Transformation of governance and change of rule in imperial transitional spaces around 1800


The rapid succession of external and inner conflicts during the so-called Age of Revolution brought movement into the political landscape of East Central and Southeast Europe. Thus, new border and transitional spaces emerged in the contact zone of the four great empires – the Habsburg, the Ottoman, the Russian, and the Venetian or Napoleonic, respectively – reaching between the Adriatic and the Black Sea. In the areas concerned, change of rule was most often accompanied by the transformation of governance whether due to the total disappearance of significant states (such as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Venice or Ragusa), in connection with territorial expansion (such as Russia in the Caucasus and the northern Black Sea region, the Habsburgs in the Bukovina and Galicia, France in the eastern Adriatic) or due to the loss of influence and control (such as by the Ottoman Empire to the advantage of Montenegro, Serbia, Greece and the Danubian Principalities). Now and again, the integration of new border territories as well as the necessary reshaping of the old became the touchstone of administrative efficiency, military strength or even of the ‘civilising’ power of the state – or on the contrary, of its inefficiency, weakness and helplessness.

The study of quite different though spatially contiguous border and transitional spaces between the Adriatic and the Black Sea at the turn to the nineteenth century opens the possibility for comparative research on the knowledge and practices of governance (both dimensions of governance) in local interaction, including local resistance and repercussions for the respective imperial centre.