Early modern Europe experienced an expansion of both governmental institutions and the responsibilities they assumed. These changes were accompanied by protracted conflict. This article traces the philosophy of state developed by Austria's estatist opposition during the early decades of the seventeenth century. In the writings of Georg Erasmus von Tschernembl, especially, an alternative vision of state and governance took shape, whose implementation would have transformed the history of Central Europe. It took a continental war to resolve this fundamental ideological discord in favour of the Habsburg dynasty.