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How did the world of nation-states come about? What happened to the world of empires that preceded it? How did the transition take place and how inevitable was it? These may seem (and indeed are) old questions.
It is acceptable to like bishops again. Perhaps this change in the historiographical weather (would it be too much to label it an ‘episcopal turn’?) is not so much a result of the opening up of new sources, but a reflection of academics’ own positions in the wider world. The 1970s and 1980s fixed us with a standard of bishops as intolerant heresy hunters and seekers-out of deviancy.
Hitherto, the historiography of ‘city-states’ has in general not been comparative, preferring to focus on one city, or one region, rather than taking a European perspective.