A new APSR paper by Lisa Blaydes and Eric Chaney.
what was it about feudalism that promoted both ruler stability and economic growth? And how did feudal institutions compare to methods of social control and organization in the Islamic world?
European monarchs lacked the ï¬nancial resources to outsource their military needs to foreign mercenaries following the fall of the Roman Empire. The feudal relationships which evolved served as the foundation
for military human resources as the landed nobility of Europe emerged as a “warrior class.” When monarchical abuses took place, barons were able to impose forms of executive constraint on European kings that formed the basis for more secure property rights.
Sultans in the Muslim world, by contrast, inherited more capable bureaucracies from conquered Byzantine and Sassanid lands and introduced mamlukism—or the use of slave soldiers imported from non-Muslim lands—as the primary means of elite military recruitment. Mamluks—segregated from the local population—swore their allegiance to the sultan. Local elites in the Muslim world did not serve as the source of elite military recruitment and, thus, were poorly positioned to impose the types of constraints on the executive that became evident in Europe.
The important, counterintuitive bit is actually in a footnote:
This pattern suggests a “reversal of fortune”… where ï¬scal and administrative capacity actually hindered long-term economic prosperity by providing Islamic dynasties with the means to avoid bargaining with their own elite populations.
I would have expected that to be the punchline of the paper. In line with this autocracy article.