How did the borderless religious kingdoms that populated 15th-century Europe transform into a system of territorially bounded political states? Charles Tilly (1985) has compared the process of state formation to a protection racket. According to him, ‘war made the state, and the state made war’ (Tilly, 1975). This thesis argues that as various lords competed for revenue and loyalty from their subjects, they turned to kings as the most efficient providers of protection. This displaced lesser lords and led to increasingly centralised authorities that saw it as their role to provide

protection to their subordinates in exchange for revenue.

Changes in technology have transformed the scale and organisation of rule. The introduction of gunpowder in the 14th century phased out the era of knights on horseback and replaced it with much more expensive armies of organised infantry armed with firearms and heavy artillery. Standing armies swelled in the following 400 years of European history, growing in size tenfold in England and France between the 15th and 18th centuries. The growth of large armies helps

to explain the drop in the number of independent political units from 1500–1800. As polities competed for manpower and revenue to support standing armies, they were forced to protect themselves from one another, often by annexing neighbouring territories. This led to political units of increasing size and decreasing number. The growth of large standing armies was accompanied by an increase in the number of administrators needed to recruit, train, equip and pay them. This was the start of premodern bureaucracy , when kings relied on to extract resources and taxes from society in order to pay for military protection. The growth of this bureaucracy boosted the ability of the early state to intervene in and extract resources from society, and enabled the penetration of state power over a larger territory. As kings and their administrators acquired the ability to collect resources from ever-larger domains, their budgets grew to pay for the establishment of strong military and bureaucratic institutions. These parallel developments mark the centralisation of political authority and helped to define the territorial boundaries of Europe’s early states