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Friday, March 24, 2023

The Case of the Medieval Castle and the Opportunity Cost of Warfare | Press

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The popular image of the High Middle Ages, with castles and knights, does contain important elements of truth. 

As a result, decision-making under constraints is the provenance of economics, and the decisions of medieval rulers regarding war form a fertile area for the study of the making of choices. Potentially, here we have a marvelous case for examining whether military history is amenable to economic analysis. Stone fortifications became common by the end of the thirteenth century, and the development of the castle was essentially at an impasse. The disproportionate resources needed to take a castle in comparison to defending it, once it had been built, was one of the key reasons for the constant rebellions of the nobility that characterized medieval politics. Eventually, gunpowder’s effect was dramatic, and the centralization of government linked to the growing expense and scale of warfare was paralleled by the growth of cities, as monarchies steadily acquired power at the expense of the nobility. 




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