Boundaries and sovereignty reconsidered: Lessons from France's road to statehood
Using medieval and early modern France as an example, this dissertation reconsiders the transition from medieval to modern territoriality. Against the prevailing view in the international relations literature, it argues that the emergence of modern state boundaries was not marked by dramatic turning points or "punctuations" but rather by incremental change. Feudal and modern forms of territoriality coexisted, complicating the task of boundary definition; commissions of inquiry were unable to solve boundary disputes definitively; and treaties through the seventeenth century, if they dealt with boundaries at all, usually did not specify them with precision. However, developments connected with monarchical state-building, such as gradual improvements in mapping techniques and the rationalizing of frontier fortification, slowly pushed in the direction of continuous, juridical boundaries. This historical pattern of gradual development, coupled with contemporary evidence, suggests that the territorial boundaries of modern states will continue to evolve slowly and that their practical, legal, and symbolic dimensions will remain important. Thus, forecasts of a sweeping "deterritorialization" of the international system are, at best, premature. While the current period is witnessing experimentation with "postmodern" territorial forms, these will likely coexist with rather than displace the dominant state-based form of territoriality.