And this brings us to the second exogenous change. Elias noted that in the late Middle Ages people began to unmire themselves from technological and economic stagnation. Money increasingly replaced barter, aided by the larger national territories in which a currency could be recognized. The building of roads, neglected since Roman times, resumed, allowing the transport of goods to the hinterlands of the country and not just along its coasts and navigable rivers.

Horse transport became more efficient with the use of horseshoes that protected hooves from paving stones and yokes that didn’t choke the poor horse when it pulled a heavy load. Wheeled carts, compasses, clocks, spinning wheels, treadle looms, windmills, and water mills were also perfected in the later Middle Ages. And the specialized expertise needed to implement these technologies was cultivated in an expanding stratum of craftsmen. The advances encouraged the division of labor, increased surpluses, and lubricated the machinery of exchange. Life presented people with more positive-sum games and reduced the attractiveness of zero-sum plunder.

To take advantage of the opportunities, people had to plan for the future, control their impulses, take other people’s perspectives, and exercise the other social and cognitive skills needed to prosper in social networks. The two triggers of the Civilizing Process— the Leviathan and gentle commerce— are related. The positive-sum cooperation of commerce flourishes best inside a big tent presided over by a Leviathan. Not only is a state well suited to provide the public goods that serve as infrastructure for economic cooperation, such as money and roads, but it can put a thumb on the scale on which players weigh the relative payoffs of raiding and trading. Suppose a knight can either plunder ten bushels of grain from his neighbor or, by expending the same amount of time and energy, raise the money to buy five bushels from him. The theft option looks pretty good. But if the knight anticipates that the state will fine him six bushels for the theft, he’d be left with only four, so he’s better off with honest toil. Not only do the Leviathan’s incentives make commerce more attractive, but commerce makes the job of the Leviathan easier. If the honest alternative of buying the grain hadn’t been available, the state would have had to threaten to squeeze ten bushels out of the knight to deter him from plundering, which is harder to enforce than squeezing five bushels out of him.