Secular Cycles

Secular Cycles

by Peter Turchin, Sergey A. Nefedov

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Many historical processes exhibit recurrent patterns of change. Century-long periods of population expansion come before long periods of stagnation and decline; the dynamics of prices mirror population oscillations; and states go through strong expansionist phases followed by periods of state failure, endemic sociopolitical instability, and territorial loss. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov explore the dynamics and causal connections between such demographic, economic, and political variables in agrarian societies and offer detailed explanations for these long-term oscillations--what the authors call secular cycles.

Secular Cycles elaborates and expands upon the demographic-structural theory first advanced by Jack Goldstone, which provides an explanation of long-term oscillations. This book tests that theory's specific and quantitative predictions by tracing the dynamics of population numbers, prices and real wages, elite numbers and incomes, state finances, and sociopolitical instability. Turchin and Nefedov study societies in England, France, and Russia during the medieval and early modern periods, and look back at the Roman Republic and Empire. Incorporating theoretical and quantitative history, the authors examine a specific model of historical change and, more generally, investigate the utility of the dynamical systems approach in historical applications.

An indispensable and groundbreaking resource for a wide variety of social scientists, Secular Cycles will interest practitioners of economic history, historical sociology, complexity studies, and demography.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400830688
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/20/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 360
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Peter Turchin is professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and adjunct professor of mathematics at the University of Connecticut. Sergey A. Nefedov is senior research scientist at the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ural Branch.

Table of Contents

Table of Units and Currencies ix

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Theoretical Background 1
1.1 Development of Ideas about Demographic Cycles 1
1.2 A Synthetic Theory of Secular Cycles 6
1.3 Variations and Extensions 21
1.4 Empirical Approaches 29

Chapter 2: Medieval England: The Plantagenet Cycle (1150-1485) 35
2.1 Overview of the Cycle 35
2.2 The Expansion Phase (1150-1260) 47
2.3 Stagflation (1260-1315) 49
2.4 Crisis (1315-1400) 58
2.5 Depression (1400-1485) 69
2.6 Conclusion 77

Chapter 3: Early Modern England: The Tudor-Stuart Cycle (1485-1730) 81
3.1 Overview of the Cycle 81
3.2 Expansion (1485-1580) 87
3.3 Stagflation (1580-1640) 91
3.4 Crisis (1640-60) 97
3.5 Depression (1660-1730) 101
3.6 Conclusion 107
Appendix to Chapter 3 108

Chapter 4: Medieval France: The Capetian Cycle (1150-1450) 111
4.1 Overview of the Cycle 111
4.2 Expansion (1150-1250) 115
4.3 Stagflation (1250-1315) 117
4.4 Crisis (1315-65) 121
4.5 Depression (1365-1450) 129
4.6 Conclusion: "A Near Perfect Multi-secular Cycle" 141

Chapter 5: Early Modern France: The Valois Cycle (1450-1660) 143
5.1 Overview 143
5.2 Expansion (1450-1520) 147
5.3 Stagflation (1520-70) 149
5.4 Crisis (1570-1600) 153
5.5 A Case Study: The Norman Nobility 156
5.6 Depression (1600-1660) 169
5.7 Conclusion 174

Chapter 6: Rome: The Republican Cycle (350-30 BCE) 176
6.1 Overview of the Cycle 176
6.2 An Unusually Long Expansion (350-180 BCE) 185
6.3 Stagflation (180-130 BCE) 189
6.4 The Late Republican Crisis (130-30 BCE) 201
6.5 The End of the Disintegrative Trend 205
6.6 Conclusion 208

Chapter 7: Rome: The Principate Cycle (30 BCE-285 CE) 211
7.1 Overview of the Cycle 211
7.2 Expansion (27 BCE-96 CE) 224
7.3 Stagflation (96-165 CE) 229
7.4 Crisis (165-97 CE) 233
7.5 Depression (197-285 CE) 236
7.6 Conclusion 238

Chapter 8: Russia: The Muscovy Cycle (1460-1620) 240
8.1 The Fifteenth-Century Crisis 240
8.2 Expansion (1460-1530) 241
8.3 Stagflation (1530-65) 244
8.4 Crisis (1565-1615) 252
8.5 Conclusion 258

Chapter 9: Russia: The Romanov Cycle (1620-1922) 261
9.1 Expansion (1620-1800) 261
9.2 Stagflation (1800-1905) 274
9.3 Crisis (1905-22) 287
9.4 Conclusion 299

Chapter 10: General Conclusions 303
10.1 Population Numbers 303
10.2 Elite Dynamics 304
10.3 The State 306
10.4 Sociopolitical Instability 307
10.5 Are There General Laws of Historical Dynamics? 311

Acknowledgments 315
References Cited 317
Index 341

What People are Saying About This


I am impressed and delighted by the breadth, rigor, creativity, originality, and power of this book. The graphs present the data in a fashion that will be clear to any audience, and the text is straightforward and persuasive. This book carries the study of historical dynamics to a whole new level.
Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University

Cormac O Grada

Secular Cycles is an ambitious, audacious, and engaging achievement from two very talented scholars. This stimulating book will attract interdisciplinary attention from those interested in global history and secular economic change.
Cormac O Grada, author of "Famine"

Cormac O' Grada

Secular Cycles is an ambitious, audacious, and engaging achievement from two very talented scholars. This stimulating book will attract interdisciplinary attention from those interested in global history and secular economic change.
Cormac O Grada, author of "Famine"

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Secular Cycles 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
argyriou on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent exploration of long-term cycles in agricultural societies. Even if you disagree with, or don't care about, the thesis, there is plenty of fascinating information about the structures of various European societies, from ancient Rome through Romanov Russia.The general thesis of this book is that agricultural societies strengthen and weaken in multi-century cycles based on a modestly complex interaction of the population dynamics of the peasantry and the elite. Turchin and Nefedov provide quite a lot of data to buttress their case. One consequence of their thesis is that "golden ages" for the elites of a society are lousy times to be a peasant, while good times for the peasantry are usually times of stability, but only modest prosperity, for the nobility/elite of a society.