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1. Introduction 2. The origins of patrimonial absolutism in Latin Europe 3. The triumph of patrimonial absolutism and the failure of reform in Latin Europe, c. 1500-1789 4. Bureaucratic constitutionalism in Britain 5. Bureaucratic absolutism in Germany 6. Patrimonial constitutionalism in Hungary and Poland and its premature demise in Scandinavia 7. Conclusion.