This book examines the origins of the first stage of the Thirty Years War. Taking a long-term perspective, it addresses crucial issues in the history of the royal court and the nature of state-building. It views state formation as the product of interdependence and bargaining between centre and locality, but cautions against unduly stressing collaboration at the expense of contentious politics. Karin MacHardy replaces the formular of 'absolutism' with the concept of 'coordinating state', and reconceptualizes noble interest and exchange within patrol-client relations.Focusing on the centrality of court patronage in Habsburg state formation, she questions the claim that the transformation of the cultural habits of nobles was an imposed disciplining process. Instead, her study demonstrates that nobles often made voluntary adjustments to state growth, but resisted when it threatened their social reproduction and cultural identities. This occurred before 1620, when the confessionalization of Habsburg patronage coinsided with demographic and economic change, and endangered the social and religious position of Protestant nobles.