December 12, 2003
A Shiver in My Spine: Chevauchee

One side effect of having the text of 10,000 books from Project Gutenberg newly-downloaded onto your laptop is that you can read the introduction to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales while proctoring your undergraduate exam. But I just ran across a passage that puts a shiver in my spine, a passage about the KNIGHT'S son, the SQUIRE: With him there was his son, a younge SQUIRE, A lover, and a lusty bacheler, With lockes crulle as they were laid in press. Of twenty year of age he was I guess. Of his stature he was of even length, And wonderly deliver, and great of strength. And he had been some time in chevachie, In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardie, And borne him well, as of so little space, In hope to standen in his lady's grace. "...had been some time in chevauchee..." (as it is usually spelled). Let me tell you how the Hundred Years War (during which Geoffrey Chaucer was an English government functionary) worked. An English army ventures into France. The French have more knights, more horses, and lots of castles. As long as the French harass the English--cutting off detachments, ambushing vanguards, surprising foraging parties--the English will (a)...

Posted by DeLong at 08:59 PM

Four Hundred Year Old Propaganda

Tudor dynasty threatrical propaganda. King Henri III Valois of France inspects the dead body of Henri of Guise. From Christopher Marlowe's second-rate Massacre at Paris: KING. Oh this sweet sight is phisick to my soule, Goe fetch his sonne for to beholde his death: Surchargde with guilt of thousand massacres, Mouns[t]er of Loraine sinke away to hell, In just remembrance of those bloudy broyles, To which thou didst alure me being alive: And heere in presence of you all I sweare, I nere was King of France untill this houre: This is the traitor that hath spent my golde, In making forraine warres and cruel broiles. Did he not draw a sorte of English priestes From Doway to the Seminary at Remes, To hatch forth treason gainst their naturall Queene? Did he not cause the King of Spaines huge fleete, To threaten England and to menace me? Did he not injure Mounser thats deceast? Hath he not made me in the Popes defence, To spend the treasure that should strength my land, In civill broiles between Navarre and me? Tush, to be short, he meant to make me Munke, Or else to murder me, and so be King. Let Christian...

Posted by DeLong at 08:57 PM

December 11, 2003
Magna Carta

Classy. Project Gutenberg's 10,000th book is Magna Carta: JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting. KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew...

Posted by DeLong at 02:21 PM

May 12, 2003
Notes: The Character of the Absolutist State in Western Europe

Perhaps the most interesting argument about why the demographic crisis produced by the Black Death did not lead to the reemergence of serfdom in Western Europe (as lords discovered that, with population down by 1/3, they would rather be labor lords than landlords) is that made by Perry Anderson in his book Lineages of the Absolutist State. Anderson argues, first, that the particular role of Western European towns made a formal reimposition of servile bondage impossible: "...the aristocracy had to adjust to a second antagonist: the mercantile bourgeoisie... towns... the intercalation of this third presence... prevented the Western nobility from settling its accounts with the peasantry in Eastern [European] fashion, by smashing its resistance and fettering it to the manor. The medieval town... hierarchical dispersion of sovereignties... feudal mode of production... freed urban economies from direct domination by a rural ruling class.... [Urban] economic and social vitality acted as a constant, objective interference in the class struggle on the land, and blocked any regressive solution to it by the nobles." Feudal lords could agree among themselves and with the king to reimpose serfdom, but they lacked the power to do so if peasants could still (as they could in Western...

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

May 01, 2003
Bradford Is Not Annoyed, But Is Rather Impressed

However, there are also a large number of very, very nice moments in William Hitchcock's Struggle for Europe as well (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)). I am impressed by: William Hitchcock on the fecklessness of European left-wing intellectuals: p. 10: Simone de Beauvoir... Americans, she write, "approved of all Truman's speeches. Their anti-Communism bordered on neurosis; their attitude towards... France... arrogant condescension"... "we had loved them, these tall soldiers in khaki who had looked so peaceful; they were our liberty." Now they represented "our dependence and a mortal threat".... de Beauvoir's line of attack on the United States, echoed in the writings of hundreds... missed a crucial part of the overall picture. The Iron Curtain was quite real... a decidely nasty form of political order... could well have been visited upon France, Germany, and Italy, were it not for those tall U.S. soldiers in khaki. De Beauvoir failed to see--did not wish to see--the nature of the "people's democracies" being erected in Eastern Europe under Soviet coercion... distressed intellectuals did not publish memoirs and go on the lecture circuit; they wrote forced confessions and went to prison... William Hitchcock on what Stalin was thinking:...

Posted by DeLong at 09:58 PM

Bradford Is Annoyed II

I find myself annoyed beyond reason by two short passages in William Hitchcock's otherwise very nicely done Struggle for Europe (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)): The second is an even more truly bizarre passage on Decolonization: p. 171: ... The independence of Ghana now led British colonial officials to accept a new logic... independence... ought to be granted swiftly so as to preserve a modicum of control over the process.... Nigeria... 1960... Gambia... 1965.... In Kenya, a large white settler population resisted a swift withdrawal, and they had to be placated.... On balance, the British experience of decolonization in Africa was a successful one... swift, done with an earnest desire to promote viable African successor states, and carried out with a marked absence of violence... I don't think many Africans today would view decolonization as "successful": I think that they would say that power was handed over to the wrong people, in successor states that had the wrong institutions, in a manner that appears in retrospect as if planned and intended to destroy Africa's hopes for progress, development, peace, and happiness for at least a full generation. Julius Nyerere and his belief that Tanzanians...

Posted by DeLong at 09:55 PM

July 01, 1989
J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Nassau Senior's `Last Hour' and the `Advances' Conception of Capital Revisited," History of Political Economy 21: 2 (Summer), pp. 309-310.

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Nassau Senior's `Last Hour' and the `Advances' Conception of Capital Revisited," History of Political Economy 21: 2 (Summer), pp. 309-310....

Posted by DeLong at 01:46 PM

September 01, 1987
J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of N.F.R. Crafts, British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 790-792.

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of N.F.R. Crafts, British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 790-792....

Posted by DeLong at 11:39 AM

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of Bernard Elbaum and William Lazonick, The Decline of the British Economy," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 792-795.

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of Bernard Elbaum and William Lazonick, The Decline of the British Economy," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 792-795....

Posted by DeLong at 11:37 AM

August 01, 1986
J. Bradford DeLong (1986), "Senior's `Last Hour': A Suggested Resolution of a Famous Blunder," History of Political Economy 18: 2 (Summer), pp. 325-333.

J. Bradford DeLong (1986), "Senior's `Last Hour': A Suggested Resolution of a Famous Blunder," History of Political Economy 18: 2 (Summer), pp. 325-333....

Posted by DeLong at 08:14 AM