One of the most significant developments of the early modern period was the evolution of the national state from its beginnings in the feudal monarchy of the High and Late Middle Ages. The ghost of a universal state coincident with a universal church, which had lingered to the end of the Middle Ages, was finally laid to rest with the successful disruption of Christendom and recognition of the sovereignty of the national state. In its place there was a frank acceptance of the political fragmentation of Europe along the geographical lines which were already clearly discernible, at least in western Europe, by 1500. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "1. The Absolute Dynastic State. Pt IX: Early Modern Europe, 1500-1789." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 1-7.