Brad Delong’s morning coffee: why study economic history?

March 31, 2008

It goes without saying but it goes so much better when you say it so intelligently.

Goldstone J.A. (1988) East and West in the 17th century

March 23, 2008

Goldstone Jack A. (1988) “East and West in the Seventeenth Century: Political Crises in Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming China”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 30/1, 103-142.

Criticism of the previous interpretations:

  • Too Eurocentric: they assume that the West was the epicentre of a crisis due to the rise of capitalism and of the modern state (Marx and Weber). Significantly, the crisis seems to have had more consequences in the East than in the West. The simultaneity of the English revolution, the Anatolian turmoil and the end of the Ming is not either merely casual: “behind all of these events lay a common causal framework rooted in a wide-ranging ecological crisis” (104). The author intends to “note certain cogent similarities that make comparative analysis possible” (105). Read the rest of this entry »

Berry M.E. (2008) Market revolution in 17th-century Japan

March 16, 2008

Mary Elizabeth Berry (2008) “Is Consumption Virtuous? The Market Revolution and the Motives for Work in 17th-Century Japan”, conference given at UCLA.

The conference was introduced by prof. Sanjay Subrahmanyam in front of a very receptive audience in the great campus that is UCLA. These are my notes, the construction and the mistakes are mine. The drawing above have been ignominously stolen from the Gütenberg project’s Tales from Old Japan.


Prof. Berry started by reminding the “Tokugawa litany” to the audience: the 17th century was a time of tremendous change in the Japanese economic history; perhaps even more so than the Meiji period.

The population doubled, reaching 30 million. The proportion of urban population went from 3 to 12%. These figure are particularly impressive when one compares Japan to, say, France, which is 3 times larger and almost entirely arable (unlike Japan where at the time only 12% of the landmass could be cultivated), had only 19 million inhabitants. Read the rest of this entry »

Stouff L. (1969) Meat consumption in 15th century Provence

March 9, 2008

Stouff Louis (1969) “La viande. Ravitaillement et consommation à Carpentras au XVe siècle”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 24/6, 1431-1448.


Historians have shown that despite the image of the Middle Ages as a time of constant hunger, some regions at some periods avaided famine and even manage to feed their population regularly with meat. Germany in the 14th and 15th centuries for instance was under-populated, the best way to use the Wüstungen (deserted lands) was to have cattle grazing on them (in many places consumption close to 100kg per caput per year). This guaranteed a steady supply of meat. During the 16th century, on the other hand, inflation and demographic growth diminished the access the lower strata of the population had to a meat-based-diet. Read the rest of this entry »

Ha-Joong Chang: the world is not flat

March 8, 2008

No surprise really here, but it is fun and it shows how economic history affects everyday life

Annoucement: Conference at UCLA on March 14th

March 7, 2008

The UCLA history department will receive Professor Mary Elizabeth Berry, UC Berkeley, for a conference on the Industrious Revolution that took place in 17th century Japan. Details.

Murat J.-V. (2005) Coastal traffic in 14th-century Mediterranean

March 2, 2008

Murat Josée-Valérie (2005) “Pratiques et succès du cabotageen Méditerranée nord-occidentale au XIVe siècle”, Rives nord-méditerranéennes, Cabotage et réseaux portuaires en Méditerranée, 7 p.

The article is available on line


Cabotage is often defined as a lesser form of maritime traffic. But it can also come to be regarded as a any type of coastal seafaring without preconception about the size of the ships or of the trade they are involved in. During the middle ages this type of traffic was common in the Mediterranean (1). The ships of fourteenth-century Marseille appear to be commonly leapfrogging, even the large ones that could easily use the long haul routes. Read the rest of this entry »