How to do Transregional History: A Concept, Method and Tool for Early Modern Border Research

in Journal of Early Modern History
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This article argues that the method of transregional history offers a valuable new tool for studying early modern territorial borders. Where existing research strands do not always suffice to accommodate the complexity of such boundaries, this new concept can serve as an alternative. Firstly, transregional history points out that early modern boundaries were not the outcome of actions that were pursued at one spatial level, be it local, regional, national, transnational, or global, but existed at multiple negotiated levels at once. Secondly, the method prompts historians: a) to not predefine “the” singular border of the region under scrutiny, but to follow historical actors as they shifted from one course of action to another in dealing with these multiple borders; and b) to question what transcended the boundaries of a region instead of highlighting how they separated one “unique” area from the next. In doing so, transregional history helps to reformulate questions about territorial boundaries, to make novel heuristic choices in research where and when borders matter, and, hence, to improve our understanding of transboundary historical change.

How to do Transregional History: A Concept, Method and Tool for Early Modern Border Research

in Journal of Early Modern History




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Simon Ditchfield“Preface to the 20th Anniversary Issue: The Pasts and Futures of Early Modernity in Global Perspective,” Journal of Early Modern History 20 (2016): 509-511and the contributions to that thematic issue.


For example: Michiel van Groesen“Officers of the West India Company, their networks, and their personal memories of Dutch Brazil,” in The Dutch Trading Companies as Knowledge Networks (Intersections 14) ed. Siegfried Huigen Jan L. de Jong and Elmer Kolfin (Boston 2010) 39-58.


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E.g. Ole Peter Grell“The Creation of a Transnational, Calvinist Network and its Significance for Calvinist Identity and Interaction in Early Modern Europe,” European Review of History 16 (2009): 619-636and Jeffrey D. Burson and Ulrich L. Lehner eds. Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe: a Transnational History (Notre Dame 2014).


NordmanFrontières de France27-29.


See Günter Vogler“Borders and Boundaries in Early Modern Europe: Problems and Possibilities,” in Frontiers and the Writing of History 1500-1800 The formation of Europe. Historische Formationen Europasvolume 1 ed. Steven G. Ellis and Raingard Esser (Hannover-Laatzen 2006) 25-30.


Harald Gustafsson“The Conglomerate State: a Perspective on State Formation in Early Modern Europe,” Scandinavion Journal of History 23 (1998): 189-213; John Morrill “‘Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears a Crown’: Dynastic Crises in Tudor and Stewart Britain 1504-1746” The Stenton Lecture 2003 (Reading 2005).


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HerzogFrontiers of Possession207-208.


HerzogFrontiers of Possession239.


See in this respect also Angelika Epple“The Global, the Transnational and the Subaltern: The Limits of History beyond the National Paradigm,” in Beyond Methodological Nationalism: Research Methodologies for Cross-Border Studiesed. Anna Amelina Devrimsel D. Nergiz Thomas Faist and Nina Glick Schiller (New York 2012) 155-175.


Alexander Soetaert“Printing at the Frontier. The Emergence of a Transregional Book Production in the Ecclesiastical Province of Cambrai (ca. 1560-1659),” De Gulden Passer: Journal for Book History 94 (2016): 137-163. For a specific case-study regarding French translations printed in the Cambrai province see Ib. “Translating and distributing Italian religious literature in the ecclesiastical province of Cambrai (late 16th early 17th century)” Incontri: Rivista Europea de studi Italiani 30 (2015): 29-40.


Bram De Ridder“Benchmarking the Past: Politico-Legal Connotations of Tradition, Custom and Common Practice in the Diplomacy of the Eighty Years War,” Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studiespublished online 25 February 2016 (


Jonathan Spangler“Those in Between: Princely Families on the Margins of the Great Powers—The Franco-German Frontier, 1477-1830,” in Transregional and Transnational Families in Europe and Beyond131-154; Violet Soen “The Chièvres Legacy the Croÿ Family and Litigation in Paris. Dynastic Identities between the Low Countries and France (1519-1559)” in Dynastic Identity in Early Modern Europe: Rulers Aristocrats and the Formation of Identities ed. Liesbeth Geevers and Mirella Marini (Farnham 2015) 87-102.


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