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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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References

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  1. Avner Greif & Steven Tadelis, 2010. "A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-Morality and Political Legitimacy," Discussion Papers 09-028, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Jörg Baten & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2007. "Book production and the onset of modern economic growth," Economics Working Papers 1030, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas & Ahmed, Rasha, 2009. "Law, state power, and taxation in Islamic history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 704-717, September.
  4. 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, vol. 69(02), pages 409-445, June.
  5. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
  6. Jared Rubin, 2011. "Institutions, the Rise of Commerce and the Persistence of Laws: Interest Restrictions in Islam and Christianity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1310-1339, December.
  7. 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.
  8. 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, number 9780195103373, October.
  9. Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Islam and democracy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 185-192, April.
  10. Cosgel, Metin & Miceli, Thomas J., 2009. "State and religion," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 402-416, September.
  11. Krusell, P. & Rios-Rull, J.V., 1993. "Vested Interests in a Positive Theory of Stagnation and Growth," Papers 547, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  12. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Long Term Persistence," EIEF Working Papers Series 0810, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Aug 2008.
  14. 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.
  15. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2003. "Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2003-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2004.
  16. David Chilosi & Oliver Volckart, 2010. "Books or bullion? Printing, mining and financial integration in Central Europe from the 1460s," Economic History Working Papers 28986, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  17. 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.
  18. 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, vol. 62(02), pages 293-321, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Metin Cosgel, 2012. "The Political Economy of Law and Economic Development in Islamic History," Working papers 2012-44, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Johnson, Noel D & Koyama, Mark, 2012. "Legal Centralization and the Birth of the Secular State," MPRA Paper 40887, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen, 2009. "Britain, China, and the Irrelevance of Stage Theories," MPRA Paper 18291, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Rubin, Jared, 2011. "Printing and Protestants: reforming the economics of the Reformation," MPRA Paper 31267, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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