You may be conflating the 13 Colonies of America (1700’s) with the rise of nation states in late medieval Europe.

You’d get a lot out of reading Braudel, or any of the great historians who chronicled the transition from late medievalism to the renaissance. I know it seems like the same thing as the American Revolution, but it happened centuries earlier, in a different continent, and in what we really have to think of as a different era in history.

There was feudalism in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. This meant Lords who owned the land, and peasants who worked it. As the peasants returned from the Crusades, they opened new trade routes and brought back lots of innovations — including the bazaar, or what Europeans ended up calling the market. The market helped people trade with one another, instead of delivering everything up to the king. And they helped cities grow.

As the people grew wealthy, the Lords (proto-kings, really) got relatively poorer. That’s when they established their national businesses (chartered monopolies) and currencies. And the myths that supported them.

And yes — a five or six centuries later, when American colonists fought against Britain, it was against those same sorts of corporations. But in America, it wasn’t cities so much as colonies envisioning a new way of doing government — they built a nation on different principles. Yes, partly due to Lincoln (of all people) it ended up surrendering to the corporatism it was founded to resist.

But it’s important to distinguish between the city-states of late medieval Europe, and the colonies of America.

Written by

Author of Team Human, Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, and host of the Team Human podcast

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store