The Economic Decline of Empires: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Economic Decline of Empires

1st Edition

Edited by Carlo M. Cipolla


296 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780415489508
pub: 2011-02-11
SAVE ~$11.99
Hardback: 9780415379274
pub: 2005-11-03
SAVE ~$58.00
Currently out of stock
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203709481
pub: 2013-03-07
from $28.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


The question of why empires decline and fall has attracted the attention of historians for centuries, but remains fundamentally unsolved. This unique collection is concerned with the purely economic aspects of decline. It can be observed of empires in the process of decline that their economies are generally faltering. Here the similarities in different cases of economic decline are identified, bearing in mind that individual histories are characterized by important elements of originality.

In his introduction, Professor Cipolla points out that improvements in standards of living brought about by a rising economy lead to more and more people demanding to share the benefits. Incomes increase and extravagances develop, as new needs begin to replace those which have been satisfied. Prosperity spreads to neighbouring countries, which may become a threat and force the empire into greater military expenditure. For these and other reasons, public consumption in mature empires has a tendency to rise sharply and outstrip productivity and, in general, empires seem to resist change.

The ten articles in this collection, first published in 1970, examine separate cases of economic decline, from Rome and Byzantium to the more recent histories of the Dutch and Chinese empires, and demonstrate both the resemblances and the peculiarly individual characteristics of each case.

Table of Contents

acknowledgements vii

editor’s introduction 1

{ensp}1 aurelio bernardi

The Economic Problems of the Roman Empire at the Time of its Decline 16

{ensp}2 m. i. finley

Manpower and the Fall of Rome 84

{ensp}3 charles diehl

The Economic Decay of Byzantium 92

{ensp}4 bernard lewis

The Arabs in Eclipse 102

{ensp}5 jaime vicens vives

The Decline of Spain in the Seventeenth Century 121

{ensp}6 J. H. ELLIOTT

The Decline of Spain 168

{ensp}7 carlo m. cipolla

The Economic Decline of Italy 196

{ensp}8 bernard lewis

Some Reflections on the Decline of the Ottoman Empire 215

{ensp}9 c. r. boxer

The Dutch Economic Decline 235

10 ping-ti-ho

Economic and Institutional Factors in the Decline of the Chinese Empire 264

appendix 278

bibliography 279

About the Series

Economic History

Routledge Library Editions: Economic History reprints some of the most important works on economic history published in the last century.
For further information on this collection please email

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General