Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: Theoria
China's inventiveness ended after the Mongol conquest, and the European powers who began their industrial development with borrowed Chinese technology humiliated the Middle Kingdom.

This is historically inaccurate. The Chinese expelled the Mongols around 1370. Their technological pre-eminence and inventiveness extended at least thru the later Ming, which ended in 1644.

Why it ended when it did is a great mystery, for which I've never seen a particularly logical explanation.

3 posted on 01/08/2013 10:41:37 AM PST by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies ]

To: Sherman Logan
This is historically inaccurate. The Chinese expelled the Mongols around 1370. Their technological pre-eminence and inventiveness extended at least thru the later Ming, which ended in 1644.

That's a very interesting subject, why a broad empire with so many advantages should lose out historically to a rag-bag of smelly, unbathed, crude and predictable Europeans.

The only explanation I've ever encountered was that the Ming Dynasty embodied a value of inward-turning perfection and elaboration of what it was to be Chinese. The state promoted Chinese-ness in everything, and strongly discouraged foreign imports and contacts.

I don't know when they turned to a mercantilistic economic model, under which they imported only cash and bullion, and exported only consumer nondurables like tea, whether that was during the Ming Dynasty or later; but the spirit of the time was, "Everything we Chinese need, we have here in China; anything from somewhere else, we do not need." Well, they needed improving artillery and firelocks.

6 posted on 01/08/2013 11:06:23 AM PST by lentulusgracchus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ]

To: Sherman Logan

Chinese culture was in decline for a long time. They lost their inventiveness when they became stifled by an oppressive corrupt bureaucracy that pretty much stole any profit from entrepreneurs. Sloth and graft became more rewarding (in the short term) than hard work and industriousness. In the meantime, the pace of innovation picked up tremendously in Europe, with the advent of the Renaissance, colonialism, and the Enlightenment. All of them were precursors to the industrial revolution, where innovation and production exploded. The Opium Wars of the mid 1850s clearly revealed the new strength of Europe and exposed the bankruptcy of Chinese culture.

By the way, what happened to China is exactly what we are doing to ourselves today. At some point, will the Chinese go to “war” with us to promote the sale of cocaine and heroin to the American public?

7 posted on 01/08/2013 11:07:23 AM PST by henkster ("The people who count the votes decide everything." -Joseph Stalin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ]

To: Sherman Logan
Hey Sherman, my belief is that the Chinese stagnated from the 1700s just around the same time that India stagnated for the same reasons:
  1. A stagnated "elite" -- where the elite only married among themselves and believed that they had reached the pinnacle of technology and development
  2. Foreign rulers who had no tie-in with the locals -- in China's case, the Manchu and in India's case, the Mughals from Aurangzeb onwards (not so much the British)

If you think about it, the innovation in Europe happened in a narrow triangle The places considered as the sources of this industriousness were the Netherlands primarily and secondarily parts of England. YET, the Netherlands region (present day Netherlands + Belgium) were industrious right from the 11th century - BRugges etc. were centres of industry as was Genoa and Pisa and Venice.

in fact in the 1200s the center of innovation was also narrow --Venice to Genoa

And in the ancient world it was in the Middle East

The places in which the industrial revolution really took off in the late 1700s to the 1800s was in the triangle of London-Paris-Amsterdam.

you can see more details in post 523, the second map

39 posted on 08/22/2011 7:26:54 PM PDT by Cronos ( W Szczebrzeszynie chrzaszcz brzmi w trzcinie I Szczebrzeszyn z tego slynie.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies | Report Abuse]

To: Cincinna
common historical mis-statement by some posters is whether scientific breakthrough was purely or even lead by "Protestant nations"
Let's set the historical background first -- Europe in 1500. Population estimates taken from Internet Medieval Source book


Population (millions)

Position as a nation-state

British Isles


Until the end of the 100 years wars, it seemed that England and France would merge under one king.  When the English lost and were thrown out of Western France, that led to the consolidation of both England and France as nation-states with language unity.

However, Scotland still was independent and the Welsh chaffed under English rule.

Ireland is reduced to warring clans.

France & low countries


See above.  France emerges as the strongest nation-state, but is really an empire with the northern, “French-speaking” population around Paris ruling over the southern l’Oil areas.  The French had recently destroyed and conquered the Duchy of Burgundy


The low countries (Belgium, Netherlands) are part of Spain and remain so until 1600.  These were once the capitals of the Holy Roman Empire (Bruges was once a center of trade) and hence have a larger population, more trade and commerce.  

Belgium is part of Holland until 1830 even though it is completely Catholic.  In 1830 it fights and gets independence.

Germany & Scandanavia


No sense of nation-state until Napoleon and even then as nation-states like Hesse, Bavaria, etc. not as Germany (that only happens post WWI and more especially post WWII when Germans from Eastern Europe who have lived in EE for centuries are thrown out to Germany)

Scandanavia has a stronger sense of nation-states, but the Swedes are in union with the Geats (Goths) and the Norwegians and Danes are in a union.  

The strongest nation-state is Denmark. 

Sweden is close but will not develop it until the 1600s.  

Norway is still tribal as is Iceland and Finland

Switzerland is still part of the Holy Roman Empire and has no sense of a nation-state but is a loose confederation that have nothing in common except that they band together against common enemies.  This will remain the state of Switzerland until Napoleon conquers Switzerland and creates the Helvetic Confederation (and then adds it to France!).  Post Napoleon, there is consolidation, but Switzerland still has a large civil war and only gets some semblance of a nation state in the late 1800s



No sense of nation-state, but strong city-states.  This is the most advanced “nation” in Western Europe, with an advanced financial system, manufacturing, strong in agriculture etc.  Only it does not have a central government, which puts it in a bad position compared to France and Spain who interfere in the city-states.

Italy is not united until Garibaldi in the late 1800s.



Strong nation-states formed in opposition to the Moors.  Not very advanced economically as this is still very agricultural.  However, it is tied to the economically stronger Arab world and with the discovery of gold in the Americas, it will be the most powerful state for the 1500s -1680s until the rise of Louis XIV France



Under Ottoman rule, strong sense of nation-state, but no self-rule.  

Highly advanced economies in Greece and Anatolia, arguably most advanced in all of Europe.  

Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bulgaria arespan> devastated by the Ottomans with many fleeing to the mountains.  Agriculture, culture etc. severely decline.

They are hit on two sides – by the Turks militarily and, because the Turks have a “millet” system where people of one religion are grouped together and the millet for all of these is Orthodoxy, the Bulgarians, Romanians etc. are kept under Greek Phanariotes.  Hence their culture declines while Greek culture thrives.



Still expanding south and east, conquering the Emirates of Kazan etc. This is still a barbaric state and remains so until Peter the Great.  It has a sense of purpose, but it’s purpose is Christianity as they believe they are the last Christian state and have a holy duty to push back the Moslems.  Economic and scientific development is poor as the focus is on war and agriculture – life is too hard and land too vast to develop like Western Europe.



Consolidating nation-state, however, more based on a confederacy as there are 4 nations here: Poles, Lithuanians, Ruthenians (Ukrainians, Belarusians) and Jews.  This mixed with 4 different religions (Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam (Lipka Tartars)) means a very tolerant state – tolerance levels of these are not reached by Western Europe until the late Victorian era.



Strong nation state of the Magyars in Magyaristan (we English speakers give them an exonym of Hungary while they call themselves Magyar).  However, the Magyars (descendents of Finno-Ugaric warriors) are mostly ruling class and warriors, they import Saxons as merchants.  The native Romanians, Slovaks, etc are kept as serfs.  The state is one of war



Strong nation-state but at war with the Holy Roman Empire and Poland has given it a sense of insecurity.  It will eventually be absorbed by Austria-hungary.

The net effect is that before the reformation you essentially have only 5 viable "nation"-states. In orders of strenght of national identity:
  1. England
  2. Denmark
  3. France
  4. Spain
  5. Portugal
The financial positions of these countries do NOT change as part of the reformation. They remain more or less the same until the mid-1700s. In fact, the economic position of Germany declines due to the 30 years war and even worse, the Peace of Westphalia

1683, Battle of Vienna and 1701-1714 there is the War of Spanish succession -- THAT changes everything in Europe.. At the end of this, Spain and Portugal are in decline, France is the most powerful state and will remain so until 1812. the Ottoman Turks are in precipituous decline, Russia is expanding south and east rapidly and modernizing fast from an Asian monarchy to a more European-style feudal state. Germany gets consolidated into 4 majory states: Austria, Bavaria, Brandenburg-Prussia and Hesse-Hanover. The Swedes are now extremely powerful and in 50 years invade Poland and Russia (the Deluge) -- this destroys the commonwealth and even though it reforms it is never the same under the Swedish Vasa kings of Poland nor the Saxon kings of Poland. THe commonwealth is irrevocably headed for 1791 when Poland is carved up by Prussia, Russia and Austria.


Next, urbanization in Europe in 1800

As you can see, the heaviest urbanization has been in the triangle formed by London, Paris and Amsterdam


Scientific innovation --> I couldn't find an online map for this, but there are books available and there should be something online. however, I need to figure out the right google-words!

Anyway, scientific innovations leading the industrial revolution are exclusively found in these 2 countries:
    England (right from the north to the south)
  1. France (mostly in the north)
England is Anglican, France is Catholic. Germany is Lutheran and Catholic (60-40) and the Dutch republic is reformed. The latter two have their scientific developments but in sheer quantity they lag behind England and France. Scandanavia is Lutheran and has fewer scientific developments and mostly in Sweden or Denmark i.e. in the populated states). Eastern Europe and southern Europe are in the throes of war or recovering from their declines as powerful entites, so the developments are least over here.

So, the scientific developments are not exclusively any type of Protestant -- if anything, the industrial revolution is led by High-Church Anglican Britain and Catholic France.

But does religion have a role to play in this?

I would argue yes in the case of Anglicanism -- it is far less rigid in it's structure than either the CAtholic countries OR the Lutheran/Reformed state countries. While all the countries had state religions, Anglicanism was the most "flexible" -- you had near Catholics in the High-Church Anglicans and reformed in the "Low Church Anglicans", so religion did play a factor because Anglicanism was flexible compared to Catholicism, Calvinism or Lutheranism -- but what were the other factors?

The other factors are:
Which brings me to the second fact -- war and peace. England and France mostly fight on the periphery or on overseas territories. They are not fighting like Spain or Eastern Europe or Germany on their homelands. This means that the home populations have the peace to focus on science and economy.

Finally, the last factor -- success breeds success. By the Victorian era, the momentum of scientific discovery in England and France meant that smart people were encouraged to come to these countries as they knew they'd get opportunities. It's the same reason why silicon valley is the centre of IT research -- as we reach a critical mass of smart folks, this mass expands itself, absorbing smart people from elsewhere --> on a side note, check how many American nobel laureates were born outside the US and see how the key factor affecting our scientific growth is that we no longer have the super-critical mass of smart folks we once had

13 posted on 01/09/2013 8:36:18 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson