The Field and the Forge: Population, Production, and Power in the Pre-industrial West

Hardcover | December 10, 2003

byJohn Landers

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The Field and the Forge offers a new approach to the pre-industrial past in Europe and the Mediterranean basin from the Roman Republic to the fall of Napoleon. Based on an original synthesis of 'structural' economic and demographic history with traditionally 'event driven' political andmilitary history, it takes as its starting point E. A. Wrigley's concept of 'organic economies' and their reliance on the land for energy and raw materials. The opening section considers the ensuing constraints on productivity, transportation, and the spatial organization of the economy. Thesecond section analyses the constraints imposed by muscle-powered military technology and by the organic economy on the tactical, operational, and strategic use of armed force, and the consequences of the spread of firearms in recorded history's first energy revolution. This is followed by ananalysis of the military and economic constraints on the political integration of space through the formation of geographically extensive political units, and the volume concludes with a section on the demographic and economic consequences of the investment of manpower and resources in war.Existing accounts of organic economies emphasize their restricted potential to support economic and political development, but this volume also considers why so much potential remained unrealized. Endemic mass poverty curtailed demand, limiting incentives for investment and innovation, and keepingoutput growth below what was technologically possible. Resource shortages prevented rulers from establishing a fiscal apparatus capable of appropriating such resources as were physically available. But economic inefficiency also created a pool of under-utilized resources that could potentially bemobilized in pursuit of political power. The volume gives an innovative account of this potential - and why it was realized in the ancient world rather than the medieval west - together with a new analysis of the gunpowder revolution and the inability of rulers to meet the consequential costswithin the confines of an organic economy.

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The Field and the Forge offers a new approach to the pre-industrial past in Europe and the Mediterranean basin from the Roman Republic to the fall of Napoleon. Based on an original synthesis of 'structural' economic and demographic history with traditionally 'event driven' political andmilitary history, it takes as its starting point ...

John Landers is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:454 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.1 inPublished:December 10, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199249164

ISBN - 13:9780199249169

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction - Time, Space, and PopulationSection I: The Organic Economy and Demographic Space2. Population Dynamics3. Production and Technology4. The Means of Transport5. Trade and TrafficSection II: Military Technology6. Battlefields before Gunpowder7. Gunpowder Revolution8. Military CapitalSection III: Force, Power, and Space9. War and the Organic Economy10. Power and Space I: Expanding Control11. Power and Space II: Maintaining ControlSection IV: War, Population, and Resources12. The Cost of War: Manpower and Resources13. Population, Production, and Technology14. The Cost of War: Mortality and Population Loss15. Spending, Taxing, and Borrowing16. ConclusionBibliographyAppendixes

Editorial Reviews

`His book is an ambitious and wide ranging synthesis that is both thoughtful and thought provoking.'The American Historical Review