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Islam and the ‘Great Divergence’: The Case of the Moroccan Marīnid Empire, 1269–1465 CE

Islam and the ‘Great Divergence’: The Case of the Moroccan Marīnid Empire, 1269–1465 CE

Chapter:
(p.25) 2 Islam and the ‘Great Divergence’: The Case of the Moroccan Marīnid Empire, 1269–1465 CE
Source:
The Articulation of Power in Medieval Iberia and the Maghrib
Author(s):
Maya Shatzmiller
Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265697.003.0002

Marīnid Morocco is intriguing because it displays an economic efflorescence and a political and military drive similar to the northern Atlantic empires at a moment when Islamic societies are assumed to have been in a period of economic decline. This chapter applies recent theories on economic growth in pre-industrialised societies to the Marīnid case in order to revisit this assumption of decline. It provides evidence of population growth, increased urbanisation, new crops and new technologies in agriculture, greater manufacturing capacity, strong institutions, in particular legal institutions, trade and capital formation, both physical and human. It then surveys the structural changes in the Maghribī and Mediterranean economies to see how they were linked to Moroccan developments and uses the evidence and analysis presented to question the representation of an uninterrupted economic decline in premodern Islamic societies and the ‘great divergence’ thesis.

Keywords:   Islam, ‘Great Divergence’, Morocco, Marīnids, institutions, economic performance, demography

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