EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS07. Norms and Behaviour: Developing Princely Officers' Praxis and Regulations in European Towns (13th-18th c.)

Coordinators: Martín Romera María Ángeles (, Pierluigi Terenzi (, Hannes Ziegler (

The state-building debate has increasingly focused on the development of princely offices as one of the main instruments to secure the presence of a central power in the territory and especially in towns. In this perspective, the study of state-building is largely the analysis of an ongoing process characterised by the succession of new regulations and changing behavioural standards for princely officers from the 13th century onwards. These changes affected the central administration as well as regional and local institutions leading to the renewal of political and social urban structures.
While regulations have often been seen as a top-down mechanism, concepts like negotiation, “pactism”, resistance, co-evolution of local and central, “state-building from below” or “empowering interactions” have changed the narrative in recent studies. Following that trend, this session aims to address the daily interactions of officers and urban communities, underlining the latter’s active role both in designing officer regulations and in shaping specific behavioural standards.
Our assumption is that these behavioural standards played a key role in the officers’ regulations and in the expectations of the populations. The compliance or transgression by office holders affected the relation with the urban community thereby assuring acquiescence, obtaining collaboration or causing conflict.
We ask the participants to focus on the renewal of norms and behaviour of princely officers as a point of confluence for urban history, social history, institutional history, anthropology, and even performance studies. The papers should analyse the social and political changes brought on by the interplay between the institutional norms and the agents’ (community and officers) praxis:
- To which extent were regulations modelled by the population - through resistance, collaboration or negotiation, either directly with the officers or aiming at higher authorities, for example through petitions to the parliament or the Crown?
- How did urban populations enforce certain behavioural standards in the officers’ praxis and in the very norms of the office?
- Which divergences and convergences can be traced between praxis and regulation and how did they interact? Although we assume a sort of co-evolution of both levels, we aim for papers that can discuss concrete dynamics regarding how regulations influenced behaviour and vice versa.
Papers should concern one or more European areas – including monarchies, the Papal State and northern Italian regional states –, preferably on a long period of time (at least two centuries) between the 13th and the 18th centuries, in order to allow a comparison between different regional long-durée trends.
Keywords: princely officers; towns; State-building; behaviour; norms