Just wed: monarchy and commerce, toward the end of the medieval period, that is.
In Prosperity and Violence (1/3), we have explained that the private provision of societal coercion in kinship-based agrarian societies was trapped within an insurmountable trade-off between peace and prosperity. If you achieved the former, you could not have the latter; and of course, without peace there can be no prosperity either.
In the present sequel, we trace
[...] the change from the private provision of violence, based on kin and community, to the public provision of coercion, based upon the monarchy and the state. The rise of the towns [in the medieval period] produced an increase in incomes and the new wealth incited increased conflict. Specialists in the use of violence needed revenues to fight their wars; and those who prevailed were those who allied their political force with the economic fortunes of the towns. (p.51)
In the process, a new political and economic order emerged:
[O]ne based on capital and complex economic organizations, one in which prosperity profitably coexisted with peace, and one in which coercion was used not for predation but rather to enhance the productive use of society's resources. (p.51)
The rise of urban centers closely intertwined with the rise of rural prosperity [...] As the population of the urban centers rose, so too did the demand for agricultural products [...] To secure food, the urban population [...] had to trade for it, thus strengthening the role of markets in rural society. The growth of cities therefore fostered the commercialization of agriculture. (p. 52/53)
The increase in profits from agriculture permitted investments in more specialised and more efficient methods and personnel and other improvements, including greater security and enhanced military prowess thanks to a widened base of indentured retainers that were obligated to fight when called upon.
The growth of the economy of northwestern Europe was thus accompanied ny the militarization of households.
The private provision of violence was costly. Only those who stood to lose much possessed an incentive to provide it. (p. 54)
This meant that
[...] the political and the economic elite became one in the rural areas, with households that were rich also becoming the households that dominated militarily the hinterlands of northwestern Europe. (p. 54)
It is worth repeating:
Feudalism was based on the private provision of coercion; it involved the militarization of the rural household. (p.56)
The economic boom brought about by intensified urbanisation and the attendant commercialisation of agriculture put the old economic and political system under fatal stress:
Prosperity spread inland along the river systems, up the Rhine and southward into France, and across the Channel to incorporate London, East Anglia, and the southern counties of England. But along with that prosperity came violence, privately provided by elite kin groups and households, with the support of their liveried retainers.
In the course of this violence, some kin groups did better than others. Those that prevailed formed ruling lineages and provided kings. Central to the emergence of these monarchies - and central, therefore, to the emergence of the [centralised, national] state - was the alliance between militarized lineages and the new economic order. Driven by necessity, fighting lineages allied with the cities, using them as a source of finance with which to suppress and seduce elites in the countryside, and so transforming the political structure of Europe. (p.56)
Continued in Prosperity and Violence (3/3).