Benedic, Domine, nos et haec tua dona: Northern Crusades, Institutions and Early Economic Development

Flavio Malnati (Cerge-ei)


In this paper, I propose to measure the rise and decline of economic activities in a setting with varying institutional enforcement over time. Recent literature highlights the long-run interaction between the institu- tions, urban autonomy and early economic development in Western Eu- rope before the industrial revolution. However, the role of institutional enforcement by the ruler/lord is neglected, or the causality between the rise and fall of institutions and early economic development is missing. The empirical setting proposed in this paper exploits the Northern Cru- sades between the XII and XVI centuries in the Baltic region and uses the discontinuity of town-statute institution across the border of the Teu- tonic Order. The Teutonic Order granted the Kulm Law to the cities in the region with the aim to attract German settlers from the Holy Roman Empire. I intend to employ monument data and zoo-archeological data as a proxy for urban development and for rural development, respectively. I aim to use the varying institutional environment and the arguably ex- ogenous expansion of the Teutonic Order to shed new insights on early economic development and, potentially, the reversal of the Order's eco- nomic fortune in the Prussian region.

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