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Provincial Governors and the Absolute State

Provincial Governors and the Absolute State: Piedmont 1713-48

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  • Christopher Storrs


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-60
Number of pages26
JournalEuropean History Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


Most studies of absolutism, particularly in Piedmont (and more broadly the Savoyard state of which it was part) focus on the emergence of intendants as an agent of the centralizing state. However, this completely ignores the role of the provincial governors. This article therefore looks in closer detail than has been done hitherto, at the role, recruitment, remuneration and social background of the provincial governors of Piedmont as an important but still rather obscure period of Savoyard state formation. Provincial governors were essentially soldiers in a highly militarized state, which was one reason for their prominent role, and they fulfilled many of the absolutist or centralizing functions (monitoring, punishing) usually attributed to other agents of the state. Among their responsibilities was watching over the local nobility. The modus operandi of governors reflected a growing formalization of practice within the Savoyard state. At the same time, however, governors sometimes clashed with the other agents of that state. In terms of remuneration, governors scored much higher than did intendants. Governors were also of more exalted social origin. More work needs to be done on the provincial governors of the early modern Savoyard state but clearly they cannot be ignored as an instrument of that state, or as an indicator that the older elite successfully inserted itself into that structure to its own advantage.



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