This essay critically analyses the legacy of Eisenstadt’s The Political Systems of Empires for the comparative political history of preindustrial empires. It argues that Eisenstadt has given us a rich toolkit to conceptualize the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of empires by theorizing the structural relationships between social groups in large-scale polities and among such polities, and by analysing global patterns of development in the distribution of the sources of social power. The Political Systems of Empires provides an inventory of key questions and dynamics that a comparative history of power relationships in empires cannot ignore. This essay, furthermore, discusses three methodological problems in Eisenstadt’s work which have had a significant impact on comparative empire studies between the 1980s and the 2000s. The essay argues that certain shared features of comparative studies of pre-industrial empires help perpetuate Eurocentric analyses: the foregrounding of select empires and periods as ideal types (typicality), the focus on macro-historical structures and dynamics without the integration of social relationships and actions in historical conjunctures (the lack of scalability), and the search for convergence and divergence. These features need to be overcome to make Eisenstadt’s legacy viable for comparative political history.
the quarter and community based Ottoman local administrative system in their contexts. The increasing role of the state in trade necessitated the expansion of systems of administration, control, taxation and justice in their territories. Like other pre-industrialempires which tried to control large
Carolingian empire on the resultant frontier regions and the societies therein closely resembles that which occurred in other pre-industrialempires. Empires, being complex trans-ethnic and trans-regional political networks, cause changes on their fringes through expansion which reshape local power
different times, as well as relate Roman evidence to other pre-industrialEmpires. Studying Roman living standards in this way, thus, has the potential to contribute significantly to current debates about the root causes of economic development and quality of life increases in both historical and