"FREELY ELECTED IN FEAR": PRINCELY ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL POWER IN EARLY MODERN TRANSYLVANIA
Author: Murdock G.
Source: Journal of Early Modern History, Volume 7, Numbers 3-4, 2003 , pp. 213-244(32)
Abstract:Transylvania's survival was threatened by both its Habsburg and Ottoman neighbors. Given this precarious international position, ruling princes required sufficient power to govern effectively, and also needed to maintain a broad consensus for their right to exercise authority over the diverse political elite. A successful balance of power between princes and the estates was built around the freedoms granted to a number of different churches, and around the right of the diet to elect princes. This article examines the elections of Gábor Bethlen and other Calvinist princes in Transylvania during the early seventeenth century. Even though these elections were rarely free or fair, they provided a key basis for the growing political authority of princes who were widely identified as divinely-appointed rulers. Transylvania thus provides a model of a competence for elective monarchy, a form of political organization often thought to lead inevitably to unstable and ineffective government.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2003-11-01