The Medieval Europe and the "Rise of the Rest": Why Did Some Peripheral European Polities Survive the Extra-Systemic Shock and Some Did Not?

Pavel Osinsky, Appalachian State University

This paper explores why some peripheral states of the Medieval Europe survived the shocks of foreign invasions and some did not. To account for the observed variation, I develop an analytical framework that identifies three factors that affected the ultimate outcomes: a scope of the foreign invasion, the nature of relations of the polity in question with the Western Christendom, and its geopolitical resilience. My analysis of the transformations in Spain, Byzantium, and Rus indicated that in order to survive a peripheral polity either had to be located near the core of the Western Christendom and benefit from its support (like Spain) or to be a vast and impassable country frustrating any efforts of the external actors to occupy and govern it (like Rus). Byzantium did not possess such advantages and collapsed under the pressure of the external actors. This study does not extend to the political capacities of the newcomers, which will be the subject of a future research.

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 Presented in Session 119. Contingency, Networks, and Power in Long-wave Historical Development