How Much Ruin is in a Nation?: The Spain of Philip IV

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“Be assured my young friend, there is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” Adam Smith wrote to a distraught friend after the battle of Saratoga (1777). Smith’s assurance begs a large question: Just how much ruin is there in a nation? History’s stores contain food for thought. For those seeking a classic case of precipitate unraveling, it would be difficult to better the example of Spain under Philip IV (1621“1665) … Continue Reading »