Social contract theory in early modern France, Germany, Poland, and Russia: a comparison
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While most of the ideas of social contract theory had been primarily developed in the states of Western Europe, the picture of the practical realization of the theory would be incomplete without bringing up the world of the European East. The following study is an investigation of the development and implementation of social contract theory in four major states of early modern Europe: France, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Poland, and Russia. The choice is not random. In the early modern period these four states represented four extreme cases of the practical application of the social contract theory, as the spectrum of their political organization stretched from a theoretical absolutism of Renaissance France to the patriarchal tsarism of Russia, and from the rule of elective emperors of the immense German Empire to the leadership of elective kings in tiny but exclusively nationalistic Poland. The following study is based on the premise that there is no perfection in politics. Even if there was a social contract theory which history accepted as an ideal, there could be no society in the world that could have put it into unqualified practice. This assumption guides this study.