| The World History Rewritten
Early medieval history
This page describes the medieval
history of Europe and Middle East till the end of XIth century AD -
it means till Crusades and appearance of populistic
city-states in Italy. Again it
is not the complete compendium of medieval history (although you may
find here some useful links), but a pretext to introduce a bunch of
History Mechanics tools.
reservation: although History Mechanics concentrates on
economic factors that direct the history, you had to remember that a
decisions of individuals also may have serious impact on history
(especially in feudal states). Simple example: feudal Great Britain had
(estimate 1350 AD) population of 3.5 million people. In feudal state
political privileges had about 5% of population (we get 175 000), minus
women and children (divide previous number by 3 or 4), and we discover
that in medieval ages political elites of England were comparable with
population of a small city today.
Again: early feudal state
resembles a big corporation, so decisions of monarch and his
court (the same way as board of directors) or some random events or
even non-important plebeians (like Joan d’Arc) may sometimes
drastically change the route of history. Powerful states could rise and
fall because of strange coincidences or because of mistakes of
individual people. My favorite example about the importance of
individual decisions is the story of Russian Tsar (emperor) Peter IIIrd.
study: Look at the history of 100-years war and
try to guess (using the Mechanics of History tools), what was the
impact of such coincidences like of madness of French and British kings
(or dynastic politics of house of Burgundy) for the history of England,
France and Netherlands in next centuries. What would happen if
Netherlands was conquered by France or England? Would the Great Britain
become democratic in 1689 without profitable exports to Netherlands in
XVI and XVII centuries? What impact this might have on the evolution of
USA political system in XIXth century? Hint: see my pages about Rome (early history) and Pre-Columbian
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consequences of Christianity
Feudal system usually
needs some strong ideology like religion to justify social hierarchy.
One of the basic reasons why Christianity but not the other religions
(like ex. Mithraism) prevailed in Roman Empire, were its social
aspects. Early Christian communes offered some social security and
self-help system for its members, very important for poorer people,
when the economy of the Empire was in decline. More or less the
same way Muslim communities gain popularity offering poor people social
help today (i.e. first years of XXIth century). Again,
scenery may change, but political processes launched by economic
processes — crisis of free-market economy — are the same.
For the history of medieval ages, is important to note that
Christianity not only protected feudal social hierarchy but also gave
some social protections for poor ones:
pattern repeat itself in every non-democratic country with
government‑driven economy: labour workers are exploited, but country’s
institutions - government or religious institutions - also offers
extensive social protections for the poors. (Communist regimes
of XXth century are another good example here.) Plus safety from
unpredictable economic fluctuations typical to free market economy, of
- From the legal point of view feudal-dependent was no longer
treated like a “pure merchandise” (as slaves were), and had some
privileges due to them as human beings.
- Sunday was guaranteed free day (so relative costs of labour
in medieval Europe increased which was some positive impact on
technology development rate).
- The church introduced some institutions that helped the
very poor people: hospitals, charity, etc.
exploitation and ideology
Also note that human, social and political rights of poor people
continually grow over time, because of technology development. New
technologies continually increase the relative profitability of
economic activities that do not involve the exploitation of poor
people. Of course there are economic cycles and periods of crisis or
very high demand for capital, when this long term tendency may reverse.
Good illustration are changes in the position of monarch:
1. In primitive, despotic societies monarch was
believed to be a god
2. Then a monarch was called “a son of god” (Egypt)
3. Then monarch was only “godlike” (populistic states of
Ancient Greece and Rome until the Christianity)
4. In medieval ages monarch rule came from God
5. Then rebellion against monarch was against the God’s laws
6. And nowadays monarchy is only a tradition
Religious support for monarchy weakens over time, because level of
exploitation decrease over time, and ideologies which justify
exploitations become weaker (more rationale).
Generally with technology development more and more economic activities
became a positive-sum
games (and the number of zero-sum
games or even negative-sum
games gradually decrease). “Cake to divide” grows faster, so
conflicts become relatively less profitable, and opposite: the
cooperation becomes relative more profitable.
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Economic crisis of the Roman Empire was the reason for the
expansion of barbaric German tribes, which finally invaded and
conquered the West Empire.
Because expansion of democratic
Rome, then populistic
incredible, the migrations launched, by its fall also had a great scale.
I have written before (see history page) that the
basic schema of barbarian invasion is:
But in real world this schema is little more complicated. First, a long
ago before the final invasion, middle-income barbarian tribes start an
expansion on territories of other, less developed barbarian nations.
They wander to get control over natural resources that can be sold to
the civilized countries: metal ores, slaves, horses, furs (compare for
the expansion of the Iroquois League in Northern America).
- First in the times of economic prosperity middle-income
barbarian tribes grew in number and strength (acquiring military
technologies of civilized countries).
- Then, the crisis comes, and civilized country starts to
trade with other (low-income) barbarian tribes. Therefore wars become
more profitable than trade for middle-income barbarian
tribes, and they invade civilized lands.
This expansion often begins a few hundreds years before the
actual invasion. For example first migrations of German tribes (Cimbri and Teutons) had
place at the end of II-nd century B.C. - more than 500 years before the
final fall of Rome! I hope you now understand, why I have written that
migration of Indo-Eropean tribes (which started more or less 2100 B.C.)
was probably launched by the fall of Minoan
Empire (destroyed more or
less 1500 B.C.).
Good illustration may be the migration of Goths. Dates
are rough (approximate):
This migration more or less coincides with the changes in
economic relation between barbarians and the Roman Empire: profitable
trade with the Empire (2),
Rome-barbarian wars at the turn of IInd and
IIIrd century AD (3), economic
fall of the West and prosperity of the
East (4), and finally the
crisis of the whole Empire and the fall of
the West (5-7).
- They set off from southern Scandianvia,
- Went to the southern coast of Baltic Sea, where probably
controlled the export of Amber to the Roman Empire (Ist-IInd centuries
- Then moved South to Central-East Poland (Masovia) where
started a mass manufacturing of iron weaponry, probably equipping other
barbarian tribes that raided Roman borders (IInd-IIIrd centuries AD).
- Then moved to the territory of today’s Ukraine, where they
could trade with Byzantine Empire (IIIrd century AD).
Then (end of IVth century AD) Goth “states” were
destroyed by migration of Huns, an
main tribes of Goths: Visigoths
(West-Goths) and Ostrogoths
(East-Goths) had to fled to the Balkan
- Visigoths first fought with Byzantine Empire
Adrianopole 378 AD), but then moved West and finally end in Spain
(beginning of the Vth century AD),
- While Ostrogoths stopped in Pannonia (more or less today’s
Hungary) from where invaded Italy destroying last remnants of (West)
Roman Empire (second half of Vth century AD).
Because at the turn of IInd and IIIrd century AD (more or
less at the
times of wars with German Marcomans)
political system of Roman Empire
changed from populistic
to feudal, the fall of the
Empire proceeded in
stages. Feudal system has lower ability to expansion than populistic
system, but some provinces that had a status of colonies in populistic
Empire got the status of core-empire provinces (and the number of
citizens increased - Edict of
Caracalla, 212 AD), so the Empire was strenghted for a
Before German tribes invaded the Roman Empire, they for some
migrated thorough the border searching for a work and better future in
civilized lands. German immigrants generally took the worst “dirty”
jobs - the same as immigrants today - become peasants (ex. Franks in
northern France), or soldiers. Rich citizens of Empire generally tried
to avoid army careers involved with death and blood (and barbarian
warriors were cheaper!), so finally Roman army became dominated by
barbarian mercenaries. Unfortunately with the decomposition of the
civil administration of the Empire, political power of army increased
and barbarian mercenaries dominated the internal politics.
So, finally the West Empire had:
Political power of
You may observe the same pattern (barbarian mercenaries dominating the
politics of feudal country) many times in history. For example Slavian
mercenaries in medieval Muslim Spain, Turkish mercenaries (Mamelucs) in
medieval Egypt, nomad mercenaries in China, etc., etc.
Only city inhabitants supported the Empire but population of
(comparing with the population of rural areas) had shrunk because of
the decline of long-range trade.
- Large population of German immigrants (peasants).
- Large share of barbarian (German) warriors in new
feudal elites of the country.
- Great mass of poor country people who hated the
bureaucratic machine of Empire because of high taxes, and prefered
barbarian occupation over the Empire administration.
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In Vth century
Huns arrived to the Central Europe. Fleeing from Hun raids German
tribes broke through the border, and invaded the West Empire. Italy was
several times. One of the raiders were Huns leaded
Still having strong economy East Empire could avoid Huns raids paying
tribute to the Attila. Finally in VIth century
Italy itself was conquered by German tribes.
Collapse was spectacular, but not so terrible as we used to think about
it. German invaders were small in number, so very quickly started to
assimilate with local populations and melted with old Roman elites.
Crisis of the economy, downfall of the trade and regress in technology
was rather the effect of the crisis inside the
Empire than the invasion itself. Centuries of diffusion processes
equalized the civilization levels of Empire and close barbarian lands,
so the Empire had fallen but large part of Europe joined the civilized
Moreover, technology regress affected mainly the high-end (high-level)
technologies, while in many low-end technologies widespread, and there
was also some important advances here. For example:
Reassuming: Roman technologies diffused from declining cities and reach
- Cheap military technologies like: stirrup (introduced by
Huns), chainmail, long swords, saddles, etc.
- Many agricultural and every day technologies (like for
example plough, watermills, iron tools) - which made peasants work
On the other hand many high-level technologies (like concrete, advanced
construction techniques and scientific discoveries) were forgotten.
Long-range trade of West Empire downfallen, because technology gaps
between different provinces shrank, and thus vertical trade (capital-intensive
goods for labour-intensive goods) became unprofitable. There were no
longer economic reasons for large trade market, and smaller, local,
protectionist markets gained importance. And there were no longer
economic base for merchant and bureaucratic elites of large empire -
shrinking economy could support only warrior elites of smaller
Therefore there was no longer need for infrastructure that supported
this trade: large cities, bureaucratic machine, highly-qualified
specialists, etc. The “sad image” of the fall we had, come from
chronicles written by the members of elites that were major victims the
crisis, not from common people.
Of course invasion of German tribes also had some negative impact on
economy. For example Vandals sea
piracy (from Northern Africa) almost completely destroyed the sea trade
in West Mediterranean region. But at the end of VIth century
European economy reached its lowest level, so the strategy of robbery
became ineffective, and new barbarian rulers of post-roman kingdoms
started to prefer the strategy of feudal conquest (expanding their new
states which became stable bases for their military operations). And
since then European economy started to recover.
primitive feudal economy
Talking about the economy of feudal
states we should remember that it
was extremely primitive. Exchange method was often barter (goods for
gods without money) or there was no noticeable trade exchange at all.
Taxes were collected in goods, or in form of involuntary work (serfdom)
feudals or for state. There were no such tools and
institutions of trade like credit, banks, etc.
But nature don’t like a vacuum, and thus there were some institutions
and mechanisms that had the same economic effect like more advanced
institutions. For example there was no such a thing like “virtual
money” in times of barbarian migrations, but there were ideologies
had exactly the same function and worked the same way as “virtual
A fortunate, brave and skillful barbarian leader (chieftain) attracted
more and more followers hoping for successful war raids and many loots,
stirred up with his fame (ideology of conquest). When the leader died
or lost his war luck, value
of ideology usually disappeared (the same
way as the value of virtual money), and barbarian nation or primitive
feudal state decomposed. It was one of the reasons for immediate fall
Hun Empire after the death of Attila.
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did not fall?
Generally there was three basic reasons:
Therefore Byzantine Empire survived the first wave of
barbarian invasions in Vth-VIth centuries and the fall of West Empire,
more or less the same way as city of Troy survived the fall of Minoan Civilization.
- Byzantine (or East) Empire neighboured not only with
barbarian lands but also with quite rich states of Persia, Armenia,
Georgia and remnants of West Empire, so the diffusion processes were
not so strong here (except northern territories of Balkan peninsula).
- While city of Rome lost its economic importance when income
levels between provinces of West Empire equalized, city of Byzantium (Constantinople)
still prospered because was located on a crossroads of important trade
routes (one of the reasons were profitable vertical trade with
barbarian lands on the north coast of Black Sea), so Byzantine Empire
still had strong economic core.
- For some period of time (because of trade position of its
capital city Constantinople)
Byzantine Empire was populistic,
and thus was all the
advantages and strengths of populistic country (ex. very effective
diplomacy, more effective economy).
As I said, for some period of time Byzantine Empire was populistic -
for example more or less at the times of Emperor Justinian
(527-565) - so was more cohesive than feudal lands of West Empire.
Byzantine Emperors had to comply with opposition, and influenced
political factions (united around four groups of chariot-racing fans),
danger of military coup’d etat or civil rebellion (ex. Nika
rebellion), but this prevented emperors from uncontained
expansion that would exhaust resources
of the Empire.
Finally Justinian broke the power of opposition and started series of
military campaigns to reclaim the west lands of Roman Empire. Army of
his general Belisarius
conquered Italy, Northern Africa (Vandals Kingdom) and Southern Spain -
thus Byzantine sea trade could regain the markets in West Mediterranean
region (economic prosperity of populistic Byzantine Empire largely
depended on sea-trade). Unfortunately great logistic cost of defending
such a large empire made Byzantium very vulnerable.
Logistic cost of
defending the empire
It is a quick and dirty summary of logistic conditions that influence
historic processes - as books of Paul Kennedy or Zbigniew Brzezinski
New conquests and new gained lands lengthens supply lines between the
core of the empire and new provinces. Long supply lines (here between
Byzantium and for example Southern Spain) made the military operations
very costly. Moreover such supply lines are vulnerable to attack, and
very long borders are hard to defend, so costs of military expansion
military faction grows in power because this is the only way to keep
the conquered lands,
thus the empire introduces higher taxation to support bigger and bigger
what inevitable suffocates the economy of empire,
- => and
is the reason for internal rebellions against oppressive government,
- => and
empire’s enemies relatively (quoting Kennedy) grow in power,
finally empire collapses (or retreats as in case of Byzantium),
defeated by citizens upheavals or the coalition of external enemies (or
Of course this schema is too simplified. Here are some
weakness of this pattern:
- Does not take into account diffusion powers, which
decompose the political system and institutions of the empire: core
lands adopt political customs and institutions of conquered lands (i.e.
despotic methods of ruling), while conquered lands import political
institutions of empire core =>
this cause them developing faster than core => and profitability of vertical trade
between core and provinces (the glue of the empire)
especially in feudal empires, there is no one core, but armies are
supported from the resources of “local cores”, which may have a great
level of independence from the central government, and finally may
evolve into independent states (resulting in feudal fragmentation -
which happened a few times in 1000 years long history of Byzantium).
- Country may do not need to expand when whole region
is in phase of economic prosperity. Governments change from “peaceful and liberal” to
“militaristic, and expansionistic” usually when prosperity ends, and
thus relative profitability of military strategies increases.
- Alliance of neighbouring states may “contain” the
empire, limiting its possibility to expansion and forcing the
modernization, which may prevent the decomposition of empire - as
really happened a few times in Byzantine history.
- Ironically, large size of empire not necessarily
it vulnerable - if empire has many but small enemies, distant from each
other, they may have problem with coordination of aggressive actions
and logistic factors will be in favour for the empire.
As a conclusion,
logistic factors may not be only one explanation of the history of
empires. We should at least take into account diffusion processes
between the core and provinces of the empire.
I will not present here the exact date of transition from
populistic to feudal system, because when populistic system
regresses to feudal, a border between political systems is fuzzy
(moreover medieval populistic countries were often ruled by monarchs).
Populistic political institutions “feudalise” gradually. But here a two
basic hints, how to distinguish both systems in medieval ages without
thorough analysis of political institutions and legal system:
In VIth century Slavians
started immigration and raids to Balkan provinces of Byzantine Empire.
Barbarian nomad tribe of Avars arrived
from the East to Pannonia (today’s Hungary). Avars subordinated Balkan
Slavians and their state became a serious threat for the European
provinces of Byzantine Empire.
- When a country starts spectacular military expansion, which
has nothing to do with dynastical politics of its monarchs (like
Byzantium under Justinian), high chances, it is populistic.
- When there are mass political factions of city dwellers
(and political life: riots, protests, coups d’etat concentrate in
cities not in the rural areas), country is probably populistic. For
Byzantine Empire we can check if riots and revolutions happened in
capital Constantinople or rather in distant provinces.
Again, as many times before, Byzantium tried to buy peace paying a
tribute to Avars. This peaceful, passive strategy of
tribute was rational for a rich country that have a big income
from taxes and trade, and border so long that no army could effective
defend it against many enemies, lihe: Persia (East), Avars (North) and
Western kingdoms (West) in case of Byzantine Empire. But this strategy
had disadvantage that Avars grew in power because of Byzantine “money
transfers”. Disadvantages of active, military
strategy were described in frame above. Compare this for example with political
strategies of USA and European Union at the turn of XXth and XXIth
century economic crisis became deeper, trade with Western
kingdoms (i.e. with former Western Empire) declined, military
strategies became more profitable, and neighbours of Byzantium was
growing in power faster than the Empire. The second wave
of barbaric invasions started - this time the East Empire was under
First Slavians and Avars plundered and conquered the Balkan Peninsula,
taking the opportunity that Byzantium was involved in serious wars with
kingdom of Persia. (We can safely assume that since the reforms of
the empire was feudal). Then in the middle of VIIth century Arabs
conquered Byzantine provinces of Syria and Egypt (and weakened kingdom
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introduction to feudalism
Gregory of Tours
The History of
Because of central location of France, reading the history of France is
a quite good way to learn the history o Western Europe. Personally I
history of France”, Perroy, Doucet, Latreille. (But it
sometimes lacks important information about institutional reforms and
short History of France
In early VIth century German tribe of Franks united
large part of the Western Europe. Under the Merowing dynasty
(shortly called Merowings) they first conquered Northern France and
Aquitaine (first Merowing king Clovis or Chlodwig),
then his descendants conquered Southern France (ex. Burgundy) and large
part of Western Germany. Here are a few basic reasons for success of
Franks under the Merowing dynasty:
- Frank kingdom were middle-income state between
half-barbarian territories of Germany and rich lands of Spain, Southern
Gallia and Italy, therefore was not so intensively plundered as richer
regions of former Roman Empire and thus the process of rebirth and
military expansion started in Northern France earlier, when kingdoms of
south were still in the phase of decline.
- Merowings were Catholics where Germanic rulers of southern
kingdoms were Arians
Christians (christianized by Arian missionaries before the fall of
Rome) and thus were in conflict with old Roman (Catholic) noble elites.
(Except Spain where Visigoths quickly melted with local inhabitants.)
Therefore Franks could ally with Roman nobles and conquer southern
kingdoms with ease. Sometimes such coincidences have a great importance
middle-income and isoquant of production
More about economies of
In economics there is a curve called isoquant
of production, which
shows what combinations of means of production (ex. capital and labour)
give us the same level of production.
Assuming for a moment
that costs of capital and labour (prices of one unit) are the same, we
can see that when the number of units of capital and labour (means of
production) used for production is the same (ex. 20), then average
combinations of capital and labour gives us bigger production than
non-average combinations (i.e. we reach better isoquant of production).
It means 10 peasants cultivating 10 fields are more effective than 1
peasant cultivating 19 fields or 19 peasants cultivating 1 field. In
other words: average combinations of means of productions are usually
most effective, so in normal conditions middle-income groups of
people and middle-income countries are more effective than
others (social groups, countries). For example middle-income country
can produce army that the best way combines the number of warriors with
the quality of their equipment.
Of course there are some assumptions here: similar technology level (the same price for one unit),
no law regulations promoting some social groups, no strong
protectionist policy in international trade, etc. - therefore some
times exceptions from this rule are possible. However the shape of this
curve is the consequence of decreasing returns on scale (at some point,
further increasing of the number of peasants cultivating a field
becomes less and less effective), which are generally the consequence
of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so the law presented here is quite
Wikipedia about Production
Wikipedia about Returns to scale.
Wikipedia about Production
And the second
law of thermodynamics.
In the second half of VIth century Frank Kingdom moved into a phase of
feudal fragmentation. However Frank Kingdom still had all advantages of
middle income country (mentioned above), and lost only some lands - no
external enemy was strong enough to be a real treat for the existence
of such large kingdom. (There
were also other reasons, but this theory like the Theory of Gravity
concentrates only on the strongest historic processes, so please
forgive me some simplifications).
Merowing kings thinks about the kingdom as their private property, and
divided the country between their sons. Moreover, having no money to
pay state officials, rulers rewarded them with land. When king was
strong, he could take off his reward (as today when government dismiss
officials), but when ruler was weak, land became the private property
of official who evolved into a class of feudals. Those feudals usually
did the same as monarch, fragmenting country even further - and it was
first of the processes that created the
feudal fief system.
When king (or their feudal
seigneur - land owner that was higher in hierarchy) was weak
officials, and local land owners (like the Church) get immunities
- they took over administrational, tax andd court competencies of
monarch in their domain (i.e. flef).
On the other hand, small land owners (farmers, poorer warriors) need
some safety in times of continuous feudal wars and robbery raids, so
they searched the protection of richer feudals. Times were so hard that
many small land owners pass on tenures
of their land to more powerful land owners only to get their
protection. This way farmers became peasants, who had to pay for the
privilege of cultivating their fields - this was the second process
that created the
feudal fief system.
The Church, which had educated personnel, developed more
system of such agreements called precarium
basic flavors: data,
See also Wikipedia article about feudal system.
Such mechanism of evolution repeats many times in history of feudal
countries (not only in Europe). Depending on how deep country’s
administration decomposed and how deep the crisis was, peasants had
only some rent (in money or in goods) of were forced to work
involuntarily for feudals (serfdom)
and sometimes had a slave-like status: were sold with fields and cannot
emigrate from their master lands.
generally we can say that the process of “feudalization” is no more
than the uncontrolled privatization of formerly government-owned state.
So, although mechanism described here is typical for feudal countries,
we can see similar economic processes even today: ex. after the
collapse of Soviet Union (if we translate feudals to oligarchs and
safety from robbery to social safety in general).
society with rulers that were chieftains of tribes (with
powerful clans and tribal meeting that might control the ruler, where
most of the warriors and clans were more or less equal) evolved into
mature feudal society with hierarchic, pyramid-like
feudal social hierarchy
Here are simplified feudal hierarchy in European states (I will try to
show today’s functional equivalents for some elements of this
At the very top is monarch
(and his court eventually). He is owner
(early medieval) or hereditary “general manager” (late medieval) of the
Below are nobles, generally
only one social class that had political privileges - like “stock
owners” in great corporations.
Nobles divide into two
(knights, representing army) and priests.
Priests generally are members of various institutions of the Church,
and the Church monopolizes the bureaucratic offices of kingdom,
propaganda supporting the system (all important media), education
system, and often had some privileges of secret police and courts
(haunting for heretics and enemies of the system in general). Because
the Church is hierarchical
institution, not the assembly of priests, it
also includes some non-noble priests.
Also feudal relations between knights (seigneurs
and their vassals -
patrons and clients) are usually hierarchical, but not so
“administrative regulated” as in the Church.
Below are plebeians
without political privileges: merchants,
craftsmen, farmers (which had personal freedom), serfs (peasants bound
to the land), other free non-noble people (bards, servants, beggars and
many more) and sometimes slaves.
In late medieval when European cities grew in number and size (and when
volume of trade increased), plebeians - actually communities of
plebeians like cities, commons, guilds - also gained some political
Remember: this is the political hierarchy,
not the income
Some nobles may be richer than monarch, some merchant richer than
It is useful to note that pyramid-like social structure do not make the
feudalism. Social and political structures always resembles
a pyramid, even in populistic or in democratic system. When people had
similar income, top of the pyramid is occupied by some institution:
army, political party (like communist party), state bureaucracy, great
financial institutions, big corporations and so on. The same hierarchy
we can find elsewhere in nature, ex. biological systems. So it is
probably a consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
What makes the feudal system is the stability of hierarchy.
Political privileges and position in social hierarchy depends almost
exclusively on the social class or family a man was born. Descendants
of noble have a guarantee of political privileges, where plebeian will
always be plebeian (thus serfs have no chance to get the personal
freedom). And all institutions of feudal society preserve this
and political system
Generally, in feudal
states political games are played only inside
feudal class. Plebeians come into the scene very rare in times of great
economic prosperity or great crisis (a peasant rebellions are extremely
rare, and happens once a century or two). Inferiors like serfs are
economically very weak, and thus had no power to defend their rights.
Nobles are like a stable monopoly, which has absolute control over the
states the number of players increases. Lower-income
people may be an important tool used by one of the players in the game.
However they are usually political clients of higher-lever players, are
brainwashed by populistic ideologies, and their economic and political
interest are underrepresented. Political game resembles oligopoly
market (two or three strong players) or unstable monopolistic market.
states, there are so many strong players with balanced
power (GPI, groups of political interests) in political game that no
one of them can win the monopolistic position. Therefore, they have to
learn how to cooperate with each others, and to obey the honest (fair)
game rules. Political game resembles a healthy free market (where power
of monopolies is contained).
So the real difference here is not the “shape” of social structure but:
- Laws and institutions that regulate political games,
of struggle used in these games (bloody and dirty tricks or quite
- Percentage of people who are to poor and cannot
political interests at all, or only in very limited way (percentage of
passive political clients).
- Opportunities of social mobility inside the hierarchy
(is the social advancement easy or prohibited).
That said, we should remember that in times of economic prosperity life
o plebeians (or inferiors) was not so bad, even for serfs. Well, they
were exploited but they usually had to pay no more than a 50% of their
income (the same level of taxation as in European Union today -
although they had no influence how these duties were spent), often were
forced buy products and services from their patrons (ex. had to grind
grain in his mill) and had no chance to advance - but had some personal
and social safety in exchange.
However when the crisis came, situation of plebeians (especially serfs)
become serious or even hopeless, because they had no political tools to
defend against exploitation and
oppression of feudals, monarch or
state. And they often end in a slave-like situation. (This happens even
today when labour workers end as serfs dependent from big corporations
time when a man have to spent more than he/she earns for
opposition in feudal countries
Here are a few reasons explaining why plebeians (inferiors, serfs) had
no chance to fight effective against the feudal system:
- Law system was constructed was against the plebeians
penalties for crimes were higher for plebeians, and laws were written
- Courts were dominated by nobles, who usually believed
plebeians were a “worse kind of man” and had to be keep down with
- Taxation system were against plebeians - they had to
pay higher taxes.
- All offices and administration were occupied by
nobles, and may be used to haunt “enemies of the system”.
- There was one, dominant ideology (religion) which
stable, hierarchical structure of society, and everybody was
brainwashed by this ideology. Plebeians too - they did not protest
against exploitation, because they believed this is natural order of
the World. When a man from early days hears day, by day from
the same ideology, he can not imagine any other point of view. Thus
ideology was even more important for the system than brute military or
administrative oppression. Therefore all social movements in medieval
ages started as heresies
to the official religion.
- There was no chance to promote a non-religious
ideology of freedom
and equality, because it was treated as heresy automatically (a kind
of medieval catch 22).
- Nobles had advantage of better military equipment
very limited contact with market, so had no money to buy weaponry),
sometimes peasants were disallowed to had any weapon.
- Nobles had organizational
advantage (may communicate and
coordinate actions much easier than peasants), so local rebellions
could be pacified with ease using reinforcements from other regions.
But again: in times of economic prosperity a lack of
representation was not so great problem for plebeians - nobles provide
them the necessary military defense from external invasions and raids,
and feudal system was a kind of symbiosis (where of course nobles had a
To the top
Byzantine Empire, Arabic expansion
Although Byzantium was not conquered by barbarians like West Empire,
technology level also declined here, because of diffusion powers which
made investments in high-end technologies relatively ineffective (see
next section). Moreover the freedom of
thinking was dangerous for bureaucratic empire. For example emperor Justinian
proscribed mathematicians and took control over the Academy of Plato
in Athens (last ancient-style academy).
Crisis of the Byzantine Empire launched social and political conflicts
which effected in heresies (ideologies of political opposition) against
the official Church. There were many of them in the history of
Byzantium (see more) but the
most important one was Monophysitism. Theological
nuances of doctrine may seem ridiculous from today’s perspective, but
were very important in empire where dominant ideology was important
tool to rule the people.
Generally Monophysitism doctrine was little more rigorist than the
doctrine of official Byzantine Church. Monophysitism was popular in
Syria and Egypt lands, because in the times of crisis economic
interests of core lands and Constantinople conflicted with the needs of
It is useful to note that some times is hard to say which ideology (of many opposing doctrines) was
actually a “heresy”. Winners usually try to prove that their ideology
is only one legal interpretation of doctrine. If Mophysitism had won,
we would learn that opposite doctrine was a heresy. Good analogy here
may be a history of communist doctrine in USSR and the “heresies”
to this doctrine (ex. trockism).
Crisis of Byzantium launched the crisis of traditional social structure
in lands of Arabia (among other
reasons, ex. the destruction of great dam, and irrigation system in
Yemen). Because Arabs were
not barbarians (they had strong trade connections with Middle East
lands for many centuries), the effect of this crisis was not an import
of external religion like in case of German tribes, but a development
of their own monotheistic religion - Islam (good analogy here might
be an development of Zoroastrianism,
after the Persian conquest of Babylonia).
century Arabian tribes united by the Prophet Muhammad
(Mahomet), after his death conquered Persia and Byzantine territories
of Palestine, Syria and Egypt (632-661). Then the lands of Central
Asia, Northern Africa and finally Spain (in VIIIth century, plus all
Mediterranean islands like Sicily). These conquests although
impressive, were actually possible because of internal decomposition of
only three states: Byzantine Empire, Persia and Spain.
In years 673-678
Arabs attacked Constantinople. City (and the Byzantine Empire) survived
only thanks to the invention of “Greek fire” - a flammable liquid used
to burn enemy ships. Although Arabian conquerors were driven by the
idea of jihad
(holy war) it is useful to note that after the conquest Arabs were very
tolerant to other religions (as
you can see, nothing stable in history). Much more tolerant than
former Byzantine administration. It was one of the reasons of their
popularity of their rule among the inhabitants of Syria and Egypt. The
main reason for the success of their religion (and religion conversions
to Islam) in conquered countries were lower taxes that believers of
Islam had to pay.
Arabs formed a great empire called “The Caliphate”,
ruled by the religious
and military leader called Caliph.
There were two basic economic reasons for the success of the Arabian
But the Empire was too large to stay united for long (different
provinces had different economic interests). So, in IXth century
Caliphate broke up into a few independent countries, and Calif become
no more than religious leader with no real political power (although
Islam did not developed such a formal institutional structure like the
- Increase of relative profitability of horizontal trade
between middle income lands of the Caliphate (as described on India
history page), when the profitability of vertical trade between the
Constantinople and the rest of Byzantine Empire decreased. Much lower
taxes introduced by Arabian conquerors also helped here.
- Arabian traders monopolized the trade between Europe
(inculding Byzantium) and India (plus China).
At the very beginning Islam broke into two basic branches:
Generaly speaking, the basic difference between them (from the
political history point of view) was that Sunnities in addition to
Muslim holy book of Qu’ran (also
Quran or Koran) accepts also later interpretations of some religious
issues that were not mentioned in Qu’ran, called sunna
(tradition). Opposite Shi’ites (simplifing terribly) were calling for a
return to the roots of Muslim religion and the rule of the descendants
of Caliph Ali, not the new dynasties of Caliphs (Umayyads and later
(Sunnis) - the majority, official interpretation of doctrine supported
by the state administration.
(Shi’is) – minority, opposition often haunted by the state
Tradition versus return
to the roots
Very the same were the nature of most religious strives between the
official Catholic Church and heresies in Europe. This kind of
ideological conflict is typical in feudal
societies. Original religion (very
often a left-winged ideology) have to be modified or extended to
support a feudal hierarchy and the laws and institutions of feudal
state (so becomes a right-winged
ideology). And these “upgrades” of religion were supported by
feudal elities. The same time ideologies of poorer people who want to
more honest redistribution of power and income were inevitable against
these modifications (postulate
“returning to roots” - to original left-winged version of religion).
Shi’itism was esspecially popular in countries like Iran which for a
long time had the status of conquered province - religious opposition
was ampliffied by national conflict here. But it is useful to note that
later when Shi’ities came to power and started to rule some Muslim
kingdoms (like Fatimids in Egypt), doctrine
was usually modified, and the rulling practices of
new elites were much or less the same as former Sunnis elites. As
usual, economic conditions and needs of feudal state affected the
evolution of ideology. There was no return to idealised times of first
To the top
Byzantine Empire and Muslim science
After the serious crisis, Byzantine Empire reborn under the rule of
Isaurian dynasty. Probably these times Byzantium become a populistic
state again (military dictatorship). Emperors of Isaurian dynasty
on strong army and rygoristic religious ideology of iconoclasm -
destruction of all sacred images of Jesus, Mary and Saints and struggle
with the cult of these icons to purify the Christianity. Some other
examples of such “militant religion” ideology in populistic states were
Puritanism in the times of Cromwell (England XVIIth century) or
ideology of Taborities (Bohemia XVth century).
As you can see, history of Byzantine Empire was “pulsative” with
several cycles of expansion and rebirth when the political system of
Empire changed from feudal to
populistic and vice versa. Another
sympthom of populistic state were war crimes (killing all men for
example) committed by Byzantines
these times and mass deportations of whole population of rebelious
provinces from Asia Minor to Balkans and vice versa.
terror and war crimes
Mass political terror was not the invention of XXth century (and
dictators like Hitler or Stalin). In many ancient or medieval
populistic states terror against political opponents or inhabitants of
rebelled provinces was a common practice. Even the army of ancient
democratic Rome were responsible for systematic war crimes (ex. in
the middle of IInd century B.C., when the democratic system were
decomposing. The scale of political terror in feudal states was
smaller, but only because the percentage of people involved in politics
here was usually lower.
These times Byzantine Empire waged serious wars with Bulgaria - a
Slavian kingdom on Balkan peninsula ruled by the narrow elite of
Bulgars. Bulgars were the nomadic Turkish tribe from the steppes
between Black Sea and Caspian Sea that was earlier sponsored by
Byzantium as allies against Avars. This
looks as a mistake of Byzantine diplomacy, but it was not. Empire were
attacked because of long border with barbarian lands and periodic
crises. If not the Bulgars, some other nomadic tribe was settle down in
Balkans. Limited resources sometimes force diplomats to play with
cards, they have at hand.
On the other hand Muslim countries of Middle East and Mediterranean,
although disunited, experienced the economic prosperity. There were a
few reasons for this:
- Silver mines of Middle East allows Muslim countries to
supply money for many neighbouring lands. Large deposits of Arabian
coins are found for example in Scandinavia. Simply speaking Arabs
gained extra income from supplying a service of international
trade currency (the same as USA today).
- Arabian sailors started a great
colonization in the India Ocean Basin, founding colonies and
factories from Zanzibar in East Africa to Indonesia and China —
dominating sea trade in the whole region.
- A status of trade
intermediary between the Europe and Orient that Muslim countries
had, as mentioned above.
Interesting side effect of this sea expansion was an populistic
merchant republic on Bahrain
island (since 894 till the middle of XIth century), which lead very
active politics in the region, even sponsoring revolutions and
political opposition in neighbouring states of Persian Gulf coast.
Thanks to the economic prosperity, the centuries of VIII-XII (since the
times of legendary Caliph Harun al-Rashid
who’s capital was Baghdad) were the period of extraordinary development
of science in Muslim lands. It was started form translating most
of ancient scientific texts to Arabian language (many times
saving these books for Renaissance European thinkers) and from learning
the secrets of India science - these times Muslims did not afraid to
translate books of other cultures or import discoveries of other
nations like compass, gunpowder (China) or decimal counting system
Them Arabian thinkers almost doubled the scientific knowledge of
ancient Greek-Roman thinkers - but, as you recall, science develops
faster when the volume of accumulated knowledge is higher, so it is
nothing strange here. Here some of the most important areas of Muslim
There were several brilliant Arabian mathematics these times, starting
from Al Khwarizmi (father of algorithm). A whole branch of math
called algebra (Arabic word again) - art of solving equations - was
actually invented by Muslim mathematicians.
(ex. Ibn Sina or Avicenna).
(about 2/3 of stars that can be seen with naked eye have Arabian
names), navigation and ship constructing technologies (that were then
adopted by Portuguese sailors).
- Basics of chemistry
(again, alchemy is an Arabic word).
- And even the basics of economics and
sociology (Ibn Khaldun).
This age of rational thinking was possible because social conflict in
Muslim states were not so strong these times, thanks to economic
prosperity. Not so rich (but enterprising) people were not contesting
(or questioning) the social hierarchy, because had a chance to get rich
and this way improve their material (and social) status or at least
could find a freedom or new hope in colonies (the same way as Greeks
before or Europeans few centuries later).
It is a simplification, but generally these centuries were the Muslim
“age of reason” and the peak of Arabian culture. Arabs were these times
much more “liberal” (i.e. freedom-oriented) than Europeans - opposite
than today. Moreover, this freedom of thought and more liberal sexual
customs were the reasons that many medieval European religious leaders
perceived Muslim civilization as “morally corrupted”. Again:
ideologies, religions or cultures are not fixed but evolve, shaped by
the economic conditions.
To the top
Empire of Charlemagne,
another wave of barbarian
In the middle of VIIIth century Frankish kingdom was reunited by Carolingians,
the family of powerful royal officials (they controlled the function of
majordomo - mayor of the palace and chancellor in one). It is nothing
unusual when old dynasty is weak, powerful officials, or army generals
(ex. shoguns in Japan) often take control over the throne in feudal
states sometimes forming a new dynasty.
Martel defeated a Muslim army invading France (battle of Poitiers
732) which strengthen his political position and reunited the kingdom.
His son, Pepin
the Short could take the crown, formally ending the rule of old
Meroving dynasty. Having the strong and united country, son of the king
(Charles the Great, ruling 771-814, more or less the same time as
Caliph Harun al-Rashid) could start the external expansion. Charlemagne
conquered Italy, and some regions of Germany (pagan Saxons for
example), borderlands of Northern Spain plus lands of today’s Austria
destroying the last remnants of Avar state in Pannonia. And crowned
himself as Roman Emperor. At end Charlemagne united most of the West
European Christian lands (except England and Ireland).
Needs of large empire forced Charlemagne to introduce some reforms:
- Standardized the coinage mincing system (adopted then by
most of the European countries), which simplified trade exchange.
- Introduced an education system - schools called trivium
where monks and state officials could broaden their knowledge. Large
empire needed educated administrational personnel.
Quite good page about Charlemagne.
Including a short descriptions of his reforms.
Although these reforms were effect of the personal decision of one man,
Charlemagne, were also a symptom of an economic process going
underneath - decreasing profitability of military conquests, and
increasing profitability of non-military enterprises like trade. A
careful analysis of economic reasons (and consequences) of new laws or
institutional changes introduced let us to make some rationale guessing
about economic and social processes that happen in the background, even
when we do not have enough statistical data.
One of the foundations of his power was scara, a standing army paid and
equipped by Charlemagne where younger sons of nobles had a chance for a
social advance. This kind of “private army” (also used as a police and
tax collectors) was a common tool of great rulers in all early medieval
countries. Of course a monarch need some stable source of income that
allow him to overpower his external and internal opponents. Even
genuine ruler like Charlemagne is nothing without resources.
At the end of his rule Frank Kingdom reached the maximum limits of
expansion for feudal country and thus started to decompose. Three
after his death kingdom were finally divided into three parts by his
of Verdun, see map).
Eastern part of Empire became the Kingdom of France, western part (more
or less today’s West Germany, Austria and Netherlands) became the
Germany. Southern territories (remnants of Lothar’s domain) divided
later into weak kingdoms of Italy and Burgundy.
More or less these times West European Lands had a negative trade
balance. Precious metals flow out to Middle East Arabic states
financing the import of eastern luxury goods. Usually negative balance
of coins and precious metals in general is an evidence that a country
is too rich. However may also happen when a country is poorer, but have
lower technology level (as in this case).
of growth and the trade balance
Below is a quick-and-dirty summary of Solow’s
model - generally also derived from the
second law of thermodynamics.
curve represents output possible at given technology level when
we invest disposed income (per capita).
represents a percentage of income that have to be spent to
renew the means of production. For example medieval peasant had to save
about 1/5 of grain to sow the field next year.
Until both lines do not cross, new investments (more people, more land,
more capital, greater army) will effect in economic growth. When they
cross, economy reach the” steady state” (income per capita Y), and
further economic growth is impossible (without inventing a new
line is a new output from investments at new, higher technology
Conclusion from this model are:
- In the long run (long period of time) only way to
growth is to invent new technologies and made new discoveries
(including geographic discoveries).
- Countries with low technology level, face the final
barrier of growth sooner.
Second picture adds an orange line
representing the net trade balance
modifying the black line
(percentage of income that is lost). It is my
personal modification (simplified here), but it comes from well known
trade-balance macroeconomic models - poor people/countries tend to
export more goods than they are importing and vice versa rich
people/countries tend to import more goods than they are exporting.
As you can see, science development may have sometimes a negative
economic effect. Outflow of money and wealth (segment between the red
point and the yellow point)
may be higher that the growth of income,
thanks to implementation of a new technology - especially in rich
countries with long open border, when the diffusion channels are wide
(like Byzantine Empire). As you can see the protectionism could be
(sometimes) a rational economic strategy, allowing the higher economic
growth - or not so deep recession - in short run (short period of
Now should be clear, why the emperors of Byzantium introduced laws
against scientific development and preferred state-regulated economy
supports protectionism). Sometimes
ideologies and policies (against
science and free-thinkers) that may seem irrational, have important
economic rationale (purpose).
Of course technology development rate will be higher in countries that
will not introduce protectionism (because of economic pressure and
competition). In the other words: life here is harder but development
is faster in long run. However if the run is very long, people
may not like to wait. So this is a trade-off as usual.
In the IXth and
first half of Xth century crisis of the former Frank Empire was
responsible for feudal fragmentation of four kingdoms: France Germany,
Italy and Burgundy. Military weakness encouraged barbarians to raid
Although range may seem impressive, these attacks were generally only
robbery raids. Barbarians of the third wave
were too small in number to be a serious threat to civilized lands.
Therefore Vikings conquests were only temporary (in England, Scotland
and Ireland) or small in size (Normandy, Sicily and Kingdom of Naples).
From the economics point of view these raids were attempts to open diffusion
channels between barbarian lands and civilized lands with brute
force. Therefore West Europeans had to invent some defensive (and thus
protectionist) policies to close these diffusion channels.
from West Scandinavia (Norway and Danemark, also called Normans)
started sea raids. At first they attacked France and England. Then,
sailing around the Europe, raided Spain, Italy, and even Byzantine
(or Magyars, nomadic tribe that arrived to Pannonia) started horse
raids to Germany, Italy, France, and even Spain.
united by Varangians
(or Waregs, Waregians - Swedish Vikings) tried to attack Constantinople.
Only Russian-Varangians raids against Byzantine Empire were serious (Greek attack on Troy is a good analogy).
Viking rulers of early Russia were more interested in trade privileges.
Trade exchange between Constantinople and Baltic Sea region thorough
the rivers of Russia were too profitable. Therefore the main effects of
Russian raids in 860 and 911 were the trade agreements that opened a
hole in Byzantine protectionism.
Again, as the middle-income country, the Kingdom of Germany was
reunited first, under the rule of Saxon Dynasty
(silver, copper and lead deposits that was discovered these times in
Saxony also helped here, giving rulers of Saxon Dynasty a stable source
of income). King Otto I
stopped Magyar raids in the Battle of Lechfeld
(955). The same as the kingdom of Charlemagne, Germany under the Saxon
Dynasty started the expansion in two general directions:
Otto I was crowned the Emperor by the pope, starting this way the Holy Roman Empire of
German Nation as the continuation of Charlemagne Empire and the
tradition of West Roman Empire. The same as Charlemagne, Otto I also
financed a private military force that supported his rule. However
these warriors (called ministerials) were not true nobles. Very often
in the early feudal states there is a social class of warriors, who
have only a partial privileges of noble man - not true knights, but
also not the plebeians.
- Against low-income lands: Slavic tribes in the valley of
river Elbe (more or less lands of former East Germany, DDR), who
arrived here in the second wave of barbarian invasions, as mentioned
- Against high-income lands: disorganized Burgundy and
Kingdom of Italy (North Italy without Kingdom of Naples and Venetia.
To the top
New feudal states in
Central Europe, Eastern
Europe and Scandinavia
A side effect of the crisis that launched the third wave of barbarian
migrations was formation of new, stable trade routes between the
barbarian lands of Central and Eastern Europe plus Scandinavia and thus
the emergence of new feudal states
here: Denmark, Norway, Sweden,
Poland, Hungary and Russia, more or les in Xth century.
Since these times civilized feudal states covered most of the Europe.
Here there are a few economic processes that were responsible for
these new feudal states:
It is useful to note that large part of export from these countries
were (at least at the beginning) slaves. Early Slavian princes often
waged wars to get slaves that could be sold to the Muslim lands of
Middle East and Spain.
- When western countries enhanced their defenses, local,
warlords that had grown in power on robbery raids had to find some
other source of income. The easiest way were to subordinate other local
rulers, becoming the local monopolist in the game of power (exploiting
local peasants, and robbery/taxation of local, tribal neighbours became
more profitable than to robber civilized lands).
- An effect of emerging markets: demand for raw resources in
Western Europe, Byzantium and Arabian lands (like furs, wood products,
slaves, horses, etc.) created profitable trade links between rich lands
of West and South and these new states. Profitable long-range trade
gave new rulers resources that gave them an advantage over leaders of
- Import of new technologies (in construction, writing,
administration, agriculture) increased the surplus (extra production
that can be sold) from land and made possible the emergency of feudal
elites that replaced former tribal communities.
Special case was Russia. Great
Rivers Easter Europe were easy trade routes between the Baltic Sea
and rich Byzantine Empire (the river Dnieper) and Muslim Middle East
(the river Volga). These trade were explored by Swedish Vikings
(Varangians). At the turn of IXth and Xth
century Varangians rulers united Slavic tribal states here. First in
the vicinity of Great
and then lands near the Kiev,
creating this way the state of Russia. That was the beginning of Rurik Dynasty.
Territory of early Russia was more or less: today’s Belorusia, Northern
Ukraine, lands around the city of Great Novgorod (close to lakes Ilmen
Ladoga) and some lands east from them close to the river Volga.
This way Varangians monopolized the trade route between Constantinople
and Scandinavia. As I mentioned before, speaking about the history of
India, at some point chaotic economic growth needs to be supported
introduction of some institutions that lower the transactional costs,
and therefore the centrally-governed state appears. It is useful to
note that this is a two-component process:
So, the emergency of Russia was an effect of symbiosis, not the brute
conquest. Vikings offered the new technologies: chainmal, swords,
ships, war tactics. While Slavians offered the goods to trade, and
people who can be recruited and trained as warriors. Without the
Varangians technologies Russia probably will be united by some local,
Slavic ruler, maybe a several decades later.
- People (i.e. merchants, craftsmen, farmers) need a central
government that can protect the trade exchange.
- Warrior-merchant Varagians and Slavic elites of greatest
cities (Great Novgorod, Kijev) had income from taxes and trade that
resources to start an expansion.
In early medieval times there were no nations as today. Therefore for
early Russian elites Variagans were allies and neighboring Slavic
tribes often enemies or “prey to conquest”. It is useful to note that
in history of early Russia there were no serious conflicts between
Vikings and Russians (opposite than for example in Bulgaria).
Varangians rulers and warriors assimilated very fast, because they were
relatively small in number, comparing with their Slavic subordinates.
As a conclusion, there were two economic reasons that created this
trade route (and Russia):
Very similar mechanism launched migration of Goths
(described earlier) and the formation of their state in Ukraine.
Although this time trade
route had two ends and therefore did not disappeared when
prosperity ended. Sole demand of Byzantine Empire (even when Byzantium
was populistic state) would not be enough to create such a big country
like Russia. Byzantine demand could create only smaller half-barbaric
states on Ukraine,
that would be destroyed by nomad tribes in times of economic crisis (as
really happened many times before).
- High demand for raw good in civilized lands of south
- Crisis of West European states that increased the relative
profitability of military enterprises for Scandinavians thus promoting
the development (and import) of new warfare technologies.
New states were christianized
in Xth and early XIth century. In case of states bordering Germany,
like Poland or Hungary, this was also protection from German expansion.
German knights and rulers lost important ideological argument for “holy
expeditions” against pagans. These tribes that were not accepted the
new ideology of Christianity were conquered and sometimes completely
Acceptance of Christian religion allowed to import new technologies
from West Europe and Byzantium. With Christian monks came knowledge
about stone architecture, agriculture, many crafts. But maybe the most
important was a management and public relations know-how — i.e. feudal
social hierarchy, administration procedures, religious ideology that
helped to rule over poor people (plebeians), etc. Quite egalitarian
tribal societies evolved into hierarchical feudal societies.
This lecture was more comprehensive than I planned, but I want to show
three basic points here:
One of the important differences between economic processes today and
in early medieval ages was that capital investments these times had to
be protected with army. Byzantium had to conquer a country to made safe
investments here. In the times of chaos, there is no guarantee that
invested money will be repaid (again, the first half of XXth century is
a good analogy here).
- Studying the economic processes launched by the
(well-documented) fall of the Roman Empire we can made reasonable
guesses about other similar crises in history: collapse of the Minoan
Empire and migrations of Indo-European tribes, migration of Celtic
tribes when Etruscan city-states declined, etc.
- Most of the processes that drive the history are quite
universal, because they derive from the basic
laws of thermodynamics. Thus economic mechanisms responsible for
barbarian invasions were very the same as for example mechanisms that
were responsible for German or Japan expansion in times of World War
- Basic analysis
of alternative strategies helps to understand the history (to
raid neighbouring lands or to exploit local peasants, that is the
question). We can use very the same tools as economists, when they
effectiveness of different economic strategies.
Warsaw 14 July 2005
December 2006 - January 2007
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