Economic History Seminar: Nico Voigtländer (UCLA)

Title: "Organizing a Kingdom" (with Charles Angelucci, Simone Meraglia)

  • Date: 20 June 2024 from 14:30 to 15:30

  • Event location: Auditorium - Piazza Scaravilli, 1 + Microsoft Teams Meeting


We develop a framework that examines the organizational challenges faced by central rulers governing large territories, where administrative power needs to be delegated to local elites. We describe how economic change can motivate rulers to empower different elites and emphasize the interaction between local and nationwide institutions. We show that rising economic potential of towns leads to local administrative power  (self-governance) of urban elites. As a result, the ruler summons them to central assemblies in order to ensure effective communication and coordination between self-governing towns and the rest of the realm. This framework can explain the emergence of municipal autonomy and towns’ representation in early modern European parliaments – a blueprint for Western Europe’s institutional framework that promoted state-formation and economic growth in the centuries to follow. We provide empirical evidence for our core mechanisms and discuss how the model applies to other historical dynamics, and to alternative organizational setting. 

Local Organizer: Jonathan Chapman