Reply To: The 14th Century Crisis

Jason Jewell

Great questions!

I think what’s going on here is that when Rothbard uses the term “crisis” he’s referring specifically to the economy, mainly commerce, whereas I’m using the term in a more general sense. All the things that Rothbard mentions took place, and of course they had harmful economic effects. There’s a sense in which those policies in places like France could have made populations more vulnerable to outbreaks of plague, but of course they couldn’t _bring_ the plague to those regions.

There is a taxation-of-clergy question involved in the Boniface/Philip dispute with the issuance of the bull “Clericis Laicos” several years earlier which forbade bishops from paying taxes to the king. The appointment question revolves around whose guys are going to be in those positions. Philip’s guys would pay the tax; Boniface’s guys wouldn’t. So Rothbard and I are talking about different aspects of the same thing.

The same with the Hundred Years War. The seizure of Gascony was what I referred to in the lecture (if I remember correctly) of the Valois king (Philip IV was dead by that time) attempting to force Edward III to pay traditional feudal service for the French lands he held. The kings of England had not done this for 150 years. When Gascony was seized, Edward pressed the inheritance issue. Again, two aspects of the same thing.

Rothbard is always looking for economic explanations for things; that’s the point of his book. He appears to be assuming that his readers are already familiar with traditional interpretations, something I am not doing in these lectures (for many viewers, these lectures are their first exposure to the material). He’s presenting accurate information, and the things he mentions have an impact. Here I’m trying to present a general overview of things. If there’s ever a “second edition” of this course, I’ll talk some about Rothbard’s interpretation to show how it complements what I’m saying.