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In this moment of history, geographic state borders are defined in official treaties between countries. These treaties determine where the territory of certain state ends and where the territory of the other one starts, by using e.g. certain latitude or following the course of a river. I suppose this type of official attestation was developed around the 18th or 19th centuries.

I want to know how did the border came to be, specifically in Europe, and I'm particularly interested in knowing how (if at all) was the concept of the border treated during the Middle Ages.

EDIT: Changed the question to be specifically about borders (as that was what I originally wanted to know).

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The start of National Consciousness as a concept for persons, and national sovereignty as a concept for countries was 1648 Peace of Westphalia. Happened at different times for different European countries though. –  DVK Dec 26 '13 at 0:25
@DVK: I think the question is not confined to national borders. What were the common principles of pinning down the borders between ancient states? middle age principalities? middle age realms? –  Michael Dec 26 '13 at 3:32
@Michael - my best understanding is that it was mostly a matter of "what you can grab and defend" coupled with "what liege lords of whatever level negotiated". At least in the territories most affected by 30-year-war. –  DVK Dec 26 '13 at 5:14
That seems pretty reasonable given the independence of the Flemish territory implies consciousness of a certain "nation" shared by some people. It is however too recent, I'm looking for the earliest thing that is still considered Medieval in a very conservative sense (5th to 15th centuries). –  user1290143 Dec 27 '13 at 22:53
The concept of a state and the concept of citizenship are separate and developed at different times. The question therefore needs clarification as it's unclear which of these you actually are looking for. Also, the bit about borders seem irrelevant to the question. –  Lennart Regebro Dec 28 '13 at 4:48

3 Answers 3

Intrinsic with the concept of national citizenship is that of a passport, the proof of membership in the body of citizens of a nation. The History of the Passport indicates antecedents dating back to both the Bible and the Islamic Caliphate (where a receipt for taxes paid entitled the bearer to travel to certain cities), but the first true passport seems to have been invented by King Henry V of England in a 1414 Act of Parliament.

Update - for question refocused on Borders:
The Rhine, Danube, Adriatic Sea and Alps, amongst other significant geographic landmarks, were all used as borders by Ancient Rome. The Aegean, Dardanelles and Western Himalayas were amongst those used earlier by the Ancient Greeks and Persians. Going further back, the Caspian and Black Sea were used by the Hittites. The use of geographic landmarks to establish borders goes back to pre-history. The notion of a first Medieval border defined in terms of geographic landmarks then becomes senseless, as all Medieval borders were established in terms of geographic landmarks, whether river, sea, mountain, Church, or hedge.

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The citizenship and fortified borders were already in ancient Rome. –  Anixx Dec 30 '13 at 7:11

The first known treaty determining the borders was concluded in 2100 BC in Mesopotamia between Lagash and Umma, the first known treaty in Europe was concluded in 493 BC between Rome and Latin League, the first known treaty in Europe that deals with borders was Peace of Callas in 450 BC.

That said, it is quite safe to assume that nearly every treaty ever concluded, clarified the border issues to an extent. This does not mean the borders were patrolled on a regular basis though.

I do not think when first permanent border fortifications emerged, but they were totally in place by the time of Roman Empire, with border checks and filtering.

It is reasonable to assume that first established fortified borders coincided with city walls.

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Do you have any sources for the border checks and filtering in the Empire? That sounds pretty interesting. –  user1290143 Apr 13 at 9:58

Just about every stone age or later settlement has a boundary ditch and/or*strong text* wall around it. Borders are as old as man is.

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