The dawning of the modern state. Institutional reform, financial reconstruction and the penetration of the state in the Austrian Netherlands

De dageraad van de moderne staat. Institutionele hervorming, fiscale sanering en de doordringing van de staat in de Oostenrijkse Nederlanden
Start - End 
2012 - 2015 (completed)



This research project aims at reconsidering the overall process of state formation in the Austrian Netherlands. Therefore, first of all three often neglected projects of institutional reform (1735, 1743 and 1749/51) will be analyzed. They all had a double goal: creating a more efficacious, qualified and cheaper central government system in Brussels and achieving stricter surveillance of the local administrations, in order to put public finances on a healthy footing. Based on a thorough examination of these reforms, this postdoctoral project proposes to bridge the gap in the knowledge of state formation in the Austrian Netherlands. By looking at the above-mentioned projects from a wider perspective, in which the government system set up for the establishment of the Austrian regime (1718, 1725) can be linked with the reforms carried out between 1753 and 1787 under Maria Theresa and Joseph II, I will try to demonstrate that all of these projects are rooted in one another and cannot be understood without insight into the success or failure of previous reforms. This perspective allows reconsidering both the process to create a modern state, based on a highly professional bureaucracy, as well as the relationship between the various actors in the decision-making process. Secondary literature on similar processes in other Habsburgs lands will enable me to draw generalizing conclusions on the long-term development of relations between centre and periphery in composite monarchies.