Why not Spain?

Sam Pawlett rsp at SPAMuniserve.com
Wed Jun 13 20:32:26 MDT 2001

[I'm wading through 10000 e-mails as I've just changed towns,jobs and
computers. Maybe I'll be able to contribute more now.-S]

There was a thread on the "Brenner Debate" I think which discussed why
England and not Spain "took off" or developed a modern capitalist economy.
Here is an intersting take on the question from a book I just finished:

"Outside the Mediterranean, European exposure to plague was less frequent
and public administration in late medieval and early modern times was less
expert. The result was to make visitations of plague rarer and, at least
sometimes, also more catastrophic. a particularly interesting case was the
outbreak of plague in northern Spain, 1596-1602. One calculation holds that
half a million died in this epidemic alone. Subsequent outbreaks in 1648-52
and 1677-85 more than doubled the number of spaniards who died of plague in
the seventeenth century. Pasteurella pestis must thus be considered as one
of the significant factors in spains's decline as an economic and political
power." W.H. McNeill *Plagues and Peoples* p 152.

In this dated but fascinating book there is also this gem of a footnote
which should delight  members of the late Crashlist:

"..it appears that humanity's latest caper, whereby free energy extracted
from fossil fuels was employed to congregate millions of men (sic) into
industrial cities, is but the most recent and complex example of the
processes whereby millions of atoms are regularly assembled into larger

I would also note that McNeill was a teacher (diss advisor?) of Janet
Abu-Lughod and his work forms the basis of hers.

Sam Pawlett

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