5

The following excerpt is from Blinkist's summary of The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan:

Europe after the plague was an altogether different place. The population had fallen dramatically, but this had served to empower the peasantry and to weaken the propertied classes.

Wealth was now more evenly distributed, and interest rates fell. These two changes to the socioeconomic landscape stimulated the economy and facilitated the development of new technologies. Of particular note were advances in military and naval technology.

I've not read the book itself, but I get the impression from Blinkist's notes that similar economic changes did not occur, at least to the same extent, in non-European territories subject to the plague (i.e. mostly the Middle East). What I'm unclear on is the following:

  1. Why did the distribution of wealth and interest rates respond as they did?
  2. Why did so much of the benefit come in the form of military and naval technologies?
  3. Why were circumstances so different outside Europe?

Not being an expert on this, my guesses are as follows:

  1. The discussion here suggests the money supply didn't fall with the population, resulting in increased wages that moved coins away from the wealthy.
  2. Presumably high interest rates encouraged investment, in whatever people thought worthy of it. The Silk Road's collapse didn't provide a motive for naval development until over a century after the plague ended, so I suspect the events described in the above excerpt were slow-burning. However, I'm probably missing something.
  3. I imagine this was partly due to only Europe having a feudal system (what was applicable elsewhere?), and partly due to the Middle East being mostly landlocked.
  • The quote kind of sounds like the author's own economic theorizing. This means that an answer would be either doubting his position on economic theory, or opening it up to a broad discussion about every reason for the economic upturn after the plague. – John Dee Sep 24 '18 at 0:39
  • 2
    A good start would be to read the actual source instead of the summary, then you would be aware of the arguments posited by Peter Frankopan. – Solar Mike Sep 24 '18 at 7:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.