Most books about public power and the state deal with their subject from the point of view of legal theory, sociology or political science. This book, without claiming to deliver a comprehensive theory of law and state, aims to inform by offering a fresh reading of history and institutions, particularly as they have developed in continental Europe and European political and legal science. Drawing on a remarkably wide range of sources from both Western and Eastern Europe, the author suggests that only by knowing the history of the state, and state administration since the twelfth century, can we begin to comprehend the continuing importance of the state and public powers in modern Europe. In an era of globalization, when the importance of international law and institutions frequently lead to the claim that the state either no longer exists or no longer matters, the truth is in fact more complex. We now live in an era where the balance is shifting away from the struggle to build states based on democratic values, towards fundamental values existing above and beyond the borders of nations and states, under the watchful gaze of judges bound by the rule of law.