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an inexhaustible source of information for legal history social status of the litigants, the subject matter and location of disputes, the intervention of the public prosecutor’s office, and the rate of confirmations or reversals of the first instance decisions.21 Factor analysis methods have also been used to chart possible interdependencies between the different variables. However, the history of the European central courts goes far beyond a history of litigation, institutional organization and procedural rules, or sources of law. The history of the central courts is above all a history of modern state-building. In many countries, as England, France, or Sweden, the high courts have been an essential factor in the unification, centralization, and professionalization of modern states in the making. Is not justice first and foremost an expression and instrument of sovereignty? It was not a coincidence that Bernhard Diestelkamp included in the title of his book echoes of the terms ‘Oberste Gerichtsbarkeit’ and ‘Zentrale Gewalt’. In fact, it was a premonition of the direction research would take in future. 21 Filippo Ranieri, Recht und Gesellschaft im Zeitalter der Rezeption. Eine rechts- und sozialgeschichtliche Analyse der Tätigkeit des Reichskammergerichts im 16. Jahrhundert (Quellen und Forschungen zur höchsten Gerichtsbarkeit im Alten Reich, 17; Cologne: Böhlau, 1985); see also id. (ed.), Rechtsgeschichte und quantitative Geschichte: Arbeitsberichte (Ius Commune, 7; Frankfurt: Vittorio Klostermann, 1977). 93