Ideal Types and Negotiated Identities: A Comparative Approach to the City-State


Historians often leave the comparative analysis of the city-state in Europe to their colleagues in political science and sociology. But two recent volumes—Scott, The City-State in Europe, and Gamberini and Lazzarini (eds.), The Italian Renaissance State—address a number of traditional assumptions about the differences between Italian and transalpine cities and the differences between princely and republican regimes. Both volumes show how historians can make a valuable interdisciplinary contribution to comparative analysis by paying attention to diverse historical trajectories and contingencies—along the way revealing the resilience of urban forms of political life long thought to have declined with the rise of the territorial state.