Post-1500 Ottoman retardation and chronic plague?: Ulysse Colonna: Infectious, elegant and maybe wrong: Sketch for an explanation of the long divergence

Ulysse Colonna: Infectious, elegant and maybe wrong: sketch for an explanation of the Long Divergence: “Three different but linked literatures… blissfully ignoring each other…

  • Long Divergence: books and articles dedicated to the vexing question of why did the Ottoman Empire not develop at the same pace as Western Europe after 1500….
  • Empire of Plague: this striking expression is from Nükhet Varlik who is one of the main names in the new wave of historians looking at the history of infectious diseases in the Ottoman Empire…. The plague came to be seen as a quasi normal state of affair in the sultan’s realm, bouts of the disease became features of the Ottoman lands along with turbans and camels.
  • Health-and-Growth: macroeconomists have been exploring ties between health and development….

(full disclosure: I’m just an amateur toying with the subject, I’m nothing close to a specialist and my knowledge is far from up to speed with the state-of-the-art literature, so there is a non-trivial probability for everything I’ve said so far and for everything that will follow to be complete and utter saçmalık) Again, as far as I can tell, these three strands of literatures have not directly addressed each other…

April 21, 2018


Brad DeLong
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