Michael Depreter

michael depreter

Currently a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Academia Belgica (Rome), I am a historian of late medieval and early modern state-formation and war. My doctoral thesis, obtained at the University of Brussels (Université libre de Bruxelles), examined the dynastic state’s increasing monopoly of the legitimate use of violence through the production and use of new, costly, gunpowder artillery (15th- early 16th century). Through a study of the Valois-Habsburg use of gunpowder artillery as a tool for state-building in the Low Countries, I argued that the specific political culture of this densely urbanized area with strong traditions of political participation impeded the Valois dukes of Burgundy and their Habsburg successors from using the new weaponry’s full potential in terms of resource-extraction (money, manpower, strategic resources) to fulfill their ambitions of autocratic sovereignty.

On moving to Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher with a Wiener-Anspach Fellowship, I obtained a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. This allowed me to investigate the diplomatic side of state-formation and resource-pooling in the densely urbanized Low Countries from a comparative perspective. My goal was to understand how the progressive loss of urban autonomy, under increasing pressure from the dynastic state, led merchant communities and other groups with interests abroad to develop precocious lobbying techniques to defend their commercial and financial interests as dynastic states developed a monopoly of diplomacy, a process desired by some mercantile groups.

Within The European Fiscal-Military System, 1530-1870, I have been responsible for the Amsterdam case-study. This research brought together my interests in the history of war, politics, and diplomacy. By examining how Amsterdam and the Dutch urban network developed as a hub for fiscal-military transactions, I explore how the Dutch Revolt and the United Provinces’ political culture created the perfect conditions for the emergence of such a thriving business of war conducted on a European, if not global, scale. Currently a research fellow at the Academia Belgica (Rome), I examine how the papal armies accessed the Dutch fiscal-military hub, and how confessional strife, in particular the impact of the Reformation and Contra-Reformation, influenced such access in the 17th and 18th centuries.