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Guns and Books: Legitimacy, Revolt and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Jared Rubin

    (California State University, Fullerton)

Abstract

New technologies have not always been greeted with great enthusiasm. Although the Ottomans were quick to adopt advancements in military technology, they waited for almost three hundred years to allow the first book to be printed in Arabic script. We explain differential reaction to technology through a political economy approach centered on the legitimizing relationship between the rulers and their agents (e.g., military or religious authorities). The Ottomans readily accepted new military technologies such as gunpowder and firearms because they increased the net revenue available to the ruler and reduced the expected value of revolting against him. But they objected to the printing press because it would have decreased the ruler's net revenue by undermining the legitimacy provided by religious authorities, and it would have raised the probability and expected value of a revolution. The printing press was allowed in the eighteenth century after alternative sources of legitimacy emerged.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2009-12.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2009-12

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Keywords: technology; state; military; printing; religion; legitimacy; revolt; Ottoman Empire;

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  1. Metin Cosgel & Rasha Ahmed & Thomas Miceli, 2008. "Law, State Power, and Taxation in Islamic History," Papers on Economics of Religion, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada. 08/02, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  2. Joerg Baten & Jan Zanden, 2008. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-235, September.
  3. Greif, Avner & Tadelis, Steven, 2010. "A theory of moral persistence: Crypto-morality and political legitimacy," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 229-244, September.
  4. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," NBER Working Papers 14278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Buringh, Eltjo & Van Zanden, Jan Luiten, 2009. "Charting the “Rise of the West”: Manuscripts and Printed Books in Europe, A Long-Term Perspective from the Sixth through Eighteenth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(02), pages 409-445, June.
  7. David Chilosi & Oliver Volckart, 2010. "Books or bullion? Printing, mining and financial integration in Central Europe from the 1460s," Economic History Working Papers, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History 28986, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  8. Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2008. "Religion, politics, and development: Lessons from the lands of Islam," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 329-351, November.
  9. Metin Cosgel & Thomas Miceli, 2008. "State and Religion," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2008-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2009.
  10. Jeremiah E. Dittmar, 2011. "Information Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of The Printing Press," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1133-1172.
  11. Potrafke, Niklas, 2012. "Islam and democracy," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 19273, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Krusell, Per & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1996. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 301-29, April.
  13. zmucur, S leyman & Pamuk, Sevket, 2002. "Real Wages And Standards Of Living In The Ottoman Empire, 1489 1914," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 293-321, June.
  14. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2003. "Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2003-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2004.
  15. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
  16. Ekelund, Robert B. & Hebert, Robert F. & Tollison, Robert D. & Anderson, Gary M. & Davidson, Audrey B., 1997. "Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, number 9780195103373, October.
  17. Jared Rubin, 2011. "Institutions, the Rise of Commerce and the Persistence of Laws: Interest Restrictions in Islam and Christianity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1310-1339, December.
  18. Chaudhary, Latika & Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Reading, writing, and religion: Institutions and human capital formation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Johnson, Noel D. & Koyama, Mark, 2013. "Legal centralization and the birth of the secular state," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 959-978.
  2. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  4. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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