States, State Transformation, and War

Charles Tilly

in The Oxford Handbook of World History

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199235810
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

States, State Transformation, and War


This article employs a stripped-down model of a state: a ruler, an apparatus of rule, a subject population, and external interactions of various sorts, from trade, diplomacy, and mass migration to war. It aims to identify common properties and systematic variations among states, including their involvement in war. First, using the example, of Tiglath-pileser I (ruler of Assyria, 1114–1076 bce), it places Middle Eastern empires in a much wider range of states across the entire world from the state's first emergence toward 3000 bce to the present. The rest of the discussion proceeds through four stages: an analysis of how states maintain themselves, a closer look at war's place in state transformation, a comparison among major types of state, and reflections on states and war in recent world history. Whether the states of today will break that interdependence is one of the day's most pressing political questions.

Keywords: warfare; agriculture; state formation; historical interdependence; Tiglath-pileser; Middle Eastern empires

Article.  8288 words. 

Subjects: History ; Military History

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