This essay hopes to throw some more light on these developments by focusing on two very heterogeneous case studies in the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. It will examine the range of means employed by the subjects of the Holy Roman Empire, mainly the territory of Hesse, and England to influence the laws by which they were governed. The emphasis, however, is not so much on spectacular, extraordinary occurrences such as riots and rebellions (whose impact is by now widely acknowledged), but on the sort of routine activities which marked everyday political life all across the Continent. Having sketched (i) the differing institutional frameworks of the two case studies, we will proceed to (ii) a comparative discussion of popular participation in legislative activities and propose (iii) some general conclusions about the importance of this phenomenon for our understanding of the making of the modern state
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