Constructing the Borderland: The Legacy of Versailles and the Small States of Central Europe

Zoltán Kelemen, Máté Szalai


The paper seeks to interpret the unique nature of the Central European region as a borderland of the Western society of states, a status which developed throughout history but crystallized most clearly as a result of the Versailles peace treaties. We track this process through understanding the specific route of Central European state formation by juxtaposing the impact of two key periods of early modern intellectual evolution on the region. Pointing to the belatedness of absolutistic centralisation and the timely arrival of nationalism in Central Europe, we show how the latter dismantled the more heterogeneous and centralised states of the region. Following this, the consequences of the Versailles Treaties are evaluated with a focus on the self-perceived image of the new countries and the role of intellectuals.

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