I pretty much agree with Stark’s dour view of slavery in ancient Greece. Roman slavery was bad also but there are stories in this book and elsewhere of people coming to Rome as slaves and rising well beyond that station. Roman slavery was not just like ours.
L 1310: Quote: “Europe in this era was blessed with lasting disunity;” Stark is perhaps a minarchist. More clearly he prefers small political units to large.
L 1400: I do not yet buy Stark’s view of the Dark Ages but it is fun to read someone defending them. For stark it was a time of progress but not contemplation and writing. Perhaps the slaves were gone and even the smart people had little idle time.
I think that there was a book burning phase just after the fall of Rome—some sort of anti-intellectual sentiment. Fortunately they didn’t find all the books and soon the monasteries choose to preserve and copy the Greek and Roman works.
Typo: “cruel and”/“crueland”
L 2356: Stark implicitly assumes that all moral sentiments of a culture stem from religious beliefs. I grant only that it would be wrong to ignore the predominant religion. I also grant that after perhaps in 700 the church’s attitude toward slavery improved the situation. I feel that Stark has mainly failed to show the contributions of the christian religion to society.
L 2874: Aftermath of the plague
This is a good section to test theories on structural unemployment. First: why was farm labor scarce if food consumers and farm labor equally diminished.
L 3328: I am pleased at Stark’s descriptions of various kinematic phenomena eventually captured in Newton’s synopsis of mechanics. I was aware of Galileo’s contributions and am especially pleased with the quotation’s from Oresmé who I have come across in other contexts.
L 3991: Stark suggests that Columbus was able to finance his expedition because of Europe’s political disunity. I tend to grant him that point.
L 4300: Stark belittles recent historians that belittle technology. I agree. I would like to hear Stark’s take on the movie “Goya’s Ghosts”.
L 4800: For all the gold and silver Spain brought from America, they spent it even faster on the military to protect and extend their empire.
L 5150: Stark samples contemporary German reports of about 1500 indicating that most people were ignorant of religion.
L 5633: Stark tries to show that Arab (Muslim) culture was that of the conquered societies. Nonetheless it was in Muslim lands that this material was being published, not Europe.
L 6607: I appreciate Stark’s enthusiasm for colonialism. I think his positive characterization of missionary efforts is fair. I agree that prestige was the motivation of European powers. The vision was that the colonies would become true parts of the empire. I think that colonialism ceased when the prestige ceased.
I think that modern China deserves more than two short sentences. Modern China has adopted, from the West, some features and pretends to reject others—sort of a synthetic mixture. So far—so good; but we shall see.
Stark reminds us of some abhorrent features of Rome; enough perhaps to celebrate its fall. Historians who bewail the fall tend to love empires, productive or not.