Rebellious Prussians Urban Political Culture under Frederick the Great and his Successors

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 5/10/2013
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Prussian discipline is legendary. Central to debates about modern German history is the view that an oppressive Prussian state cast a shadow on the development of civil society. In particular, historians have seen the absence of a revolution in the eighteenth century as a symptom of a delayed and incomplete emancipation of the Prussian bourgeoisie. Prussia's urban dwellers have often been portrayed as poor relations of the self-reliant and assertive bourgeois of Western Europe and the Atlantic world. Economically backward and politically oppressed, they were allegedly in no position to challenge the iron grip of the state and question the authority of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

Drawing from extensive and original research, Florian Schui challenges the accepted view and argues that Prussians in the eighteenth century were much more willing to challenge the state than has been recognised. Schui explores several instances where urban Prussians successfully resisted government policies and forced Frederick the Great and his successors to give in to their demands. Rebellious Prussians thus sheds light on a little-known historical reality in which weak Hohenzollern monarchs--and a still weaker Prussian bureaucracy--were confronted with prosperous, fearless, argumentative, and occasionally violent Prussian burghers.

Such conflicts between state and citizens were by no means unique to Prussia. Rather the events in Prussia were, on many levels, connected to similar contemporary developments in other parts of Europe and North America. Florian Schui systematically explores these links and thus develops a new European and Atlantic perspective on Prussian history in the eighteenth century.

Author Biography

Florian Schui completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge. He was a research fellow at St. Edmund's College, at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) in Cambridge, and at the National University of Ireland in Galway. He has published extensively on the European history of political and economic ideas in the eighteenth century and beyond.

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