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War, Peace, and Prosperity in the Name of God

The Ottoman Role in Europe’s Socioeconomic Evolution

Differences among religious communities have motivated—and continue to motivate—many of the deadliest conflicts in human history. But how did political power and organized religion become so thoroughly intertwined? And how have religion and religiously motivated conflicts affected the evolution of societies throughout history, from demographic and sociopolitical change to economic growth?

War, Peace, and Prosperity in the Name of God turns the focus on the “big three monotheisms”—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity—to consider these questions. Chronicling the relatively rapid spread of the Abrahamic religions among the Old World, Murat Iyigun shows that societies that adhered to a monotheistic belief in that era lasted longer, suggesting that monotheism brought some sociopolitical advantages. While the inherent belief in one true god meant that these religious communities had sooner or later to contend with one another, Iyigun shows that differences among them were typically strong enough to trump disagreements within. The book concludes by documenting the long-term repercussions of these dynamics for the organization of societies and their politics in Europe and the Middle East.

See online technical appendices for the book.

272 pages | 24 halftones, 2 line drawings, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Economics and Business: Economics--Development, Growth, Planning, Economics--History

Religion: Comparative Studies and History of Religion


"Why have monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—been so successful compared to other religions? Did the rise of monotheisms increase or tame conflict among societies? What does the spread of the Ottoman Empire have to do with the Protestant Reformation in Europe? What effect did the imperial harem exert on the war-making tendencies of Ottomans? How did the wars between the Ottomans and the Europeans shape religious differences and political institutions in today’s societies? Iyigun’s book provides surprising answers to these questions, weaving unexpected connections among religion, conflict, and prosperity over the long course of European and the Middle Eastern history."

Dani Rodrik, Institute for Advanced Study

“Challenging many prominent theories of human history, this captivating book shows that competition among the world’s leading monotheistic religions was a more powerful driver of development than competition within them. Cogently argued, insightful, and entertaining throughout, it demonstrates that struggles between Islam and Christianity produced momentous transformations not only in Muslim-governed lands but also in Europe.”

Timur Kuran, Duke University

“Iyigun has written a fascinating and detail-rich book on the links between religion, economic growth, and conflict over a broad swath of history. War, Peace, and Prosperity in the Name of God will appeal to scholars in a number of fields, including history, political economy, and religious studies, as well as being of interest to the broader public intrigued by the historical origins of differences in modern-day development.”

Jacob N. Shapiro, Princeton University

“Iyigun presents a fascinating theory of the political and socioeconomic consequences of monotheism on world economic history. . . . [He] has done more than enough to convince the reader of the important and subtle connections between monotheistic faith, conflict, and long-run outcomes. . . . Monotheism is good for social stability because it permits an ecclesiastical monopoly that can legitimize and constrain rule; monotheistic societies therefore last longer and expand more rapidly; but, they must eventually come into contact with each other, and the importance of the 'one true God' dogma in monotheistic faith — the very element that makes monotheistic polities so successful in the first place — means that they are more likely to come into conflict once in contact.”

“Iyigun has compiled a wealth of historical data and information. . . . This highly stimulating book is worth reading for anybody interested in economic development, economic history, and political economy. It lays open a fascinating research agenda.”

Economic History Review

Table of Contents

I             The Preliminaries
1                                                                      Societies, Polities, and Religion
1.1       Faith and Social Order
1.2       Does Theistic Competition Matter?
1.2.1                Social Advantages of Economies of Scale
1.2.2                Personalized Spiritual Exchange
1.2.3                Longer Time Horizons Due to Afterlife
1.3       Monotheisms Rule…
1.4       …and Conflict
II            The Rise of Monotheism
2                                                                      Empires Strike Back…under One God
2.1       Some Definitions
2.2       Sources and Data
2.3       A Brief History
2.4       Some Generalizations
2.5       Hypothesis
2.6       Identifying Monotheisms’ Impact
2.7       Monotheisms Reign Supreme
3                                                                      Globalizing Abrahamic Monotheisms
3.1       Judaism
3.2       Christianity
3.3       Islam
3.4       The Early Contacts
3.4.1                Mohammed and Charlemagne
3.4.2                Holy Crusades
3.4.3                Moorish Spain (al-Andalus)
3.4.4                Medieval Islamic Science
3.5       From Triumph to Confrontation
III           Monotheism, Conflict, and Cooperation
4                                                                      A Conceptual Framework
4.1       An Outline
4.2       Resources, Conflict, and Territorial Conquests
4.3       What’s Faith Got to Do with It?
5                                                                      The “Dark Side” Rises
5.1       From Local Tribe to Global Empire
5.1.1                Foundations
5.1.2                Government and Polity
5.2       Gaza, Islam, and the Ottoman State
5.3       Western Conquests
5.3.1                The Golden Era
6                                                                      Ottomans’ Faith and Protestants’ Fate
6.1       Charles, Francis, and Ferdinand
6.2       The German Diets, Austria-Hungary, and the Papacy
6.3       Deals with the Infidel
6.4       Hypothesis
6.5       Data Sources and Definitions
6.6       A Descriptive Look
6.7       Main Findings
6.7.1                Ottoman Wars and Intra-European Violence
6.7.2                Ottomans and the Protestant Reformation
6.8       At the Dawn of an Oasis of Prosperity
7                                                                      Those Harem Nights
7.1       Trends in Ottoman Conquests
7.2       The Harem Hierarchy and Genealogical Links
7.3       Hypothesis
7.4       Main Results
7.5       Discussion
7.6       Mom Knows Best?
7.7       Cultural Identity, Ethnicity, and Religion
IV          Pluralism, Coexistence, and Prosperity
8                                                                      Culture, Clashes, and Peace
8.1       Ethnicity, Religion, and Conflict
8.2       What the Data Say
8.3       Key Findings
8.4       From Ethno-Religious Battles to Huntington and Beyond
9                                                                      Conflict, Political Efficacy, and National Borders
9.1       Conflicts and Institutional Quality
9.2       Caveats, Qualifications, and Channels of Impact
9.3       Borders Are a Manifestation of Conflict, Too
10                                                                    Religious Coexistence, Social Peace, and Prosperity
10.1     Is There a Link?
10.2     Individual Effects
10.3     Institutional Effects
10.4     A Comparative-Development Coda
11                                                                    Meanwhile, in the Orient…
11.1     The Cognitive Dissonance of the Sick Man of Europe
11.2     External Foes and Islamic (Dis)unity
11.3     The Pending Islamic Reformation?

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