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The States System of Europe, 1640–1990Peacemaking and the Conditions of International Stability$
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Andreas Osiander

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198278870

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198278870.001.0001

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Summary and Update

Summary and Update

(p.316) 6 Summary and Update
The States System of Europe, 1640–1990

Andreas Osiander

Oxford University Press

The classical European states system, at whose evolution since the mid-seventeenth century has been looked upon in this book, was not created in one piece. Originally, as seen, its structure was to a considerable extent outside the scope of abstract, programmatic principles. Such principles evolved only slowly and fitfully, gradually including more and more aspects of the system in their purview. Sanctioned by custom, structural features that the European system had already possessed in medieval times were eroded only slowly. Indeed, this process of erosion has not been completed even today. In many cases, traditional features of the system have been relegitimized successively by different consensus principles. In many cases, there is a certain continuity here in spite of changing structural principles — even though, in every case, the nature of the actors, as determined by their domestic setup, has changed drastically over the centuries.

Keywords:   European states system, medieval times, consensus principles, structural principles

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