Charles Tilly was determined to explain the way European states have evolved during the ancient times. In his explanation, he developed three distinct states in Europe. These include “tribute-taking-empires; systems of fragmented sovereignty such as city-states, and urban federations, and national states” (Tilly, 21).


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In his descriptions, Tilly developed terminologies such as capital-rich” and coercion-rich” in reference to the creation of political units. He discussed coercion, capital and European states in the same perspective to explain the city-states that existed in Europe. He noted that, after the 10th century, Europe experienced a two dimensional development characterized by either “capital-rich” or “coercion-rich” characteristics (Tilly, 30).

According to Tilly, “capital-rich” referred to those parts of Europe that established urban governments that were meant to serve the interests of capitalists. This led to the development of capital-intensive development patterns across the affected cities in Europe. This development was common in cities within Italy, Germany and Holland.

Cities such as Genoa and Florence were clear examples of capital rich political development (Tilly, 30). On the other hand, the “coercion-rich” regions of Europe referred to those areas where “rulers squeezed the means of war from their own populations and others they conquered, building massive structures of extraction in the process” (Tilly, 30).

This political development led to the emergence of empires that were characterized by poor capital and extreme coercion. The example of this political development in Europe is presented by the case in Russia and Brandenburg (Tilly, 30).

The other form of government that Tilly talks about is the capitalized coercion. In this regard, elements of “capital-rich” and “coercion-rich” were merged. This led to the development of national states in Europe. This form of government was adopted by France and England (Tilly, 30).

Works Cited

Tilly, Charles. Coercion, Capital, and European States: Ad 990-1992. Cambridge, Mass. u.a: Blackwell, 1990. Print.


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