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Two distinctive regimes are distinguished in Spain over half a millennium. The first one (1270s–1590s) corresponds to a high land–labour ratio frontier economy, which is pastoral, trade-oriented, and led by towns. Wages and food consumption were relatively high. Sustained per capita growth occurred from the end of the Reconquest (1264) to the Black Death (1340s) and resumed from the 1390s only broken by late fifteenth-century turmoil. A second regime (1600s–1810s) corresponds to a more agricultural and densely populated low-wage economy which, although it grew at a pace similar to that of 1270–1600, remained at a lower level. Contrary to pre-industrial western Europe, Spain achieved its highest living standards in the 1340s, not by mid-fifteenth century. Although its death toll was lower, the plague had a more damaging impact on Spain and, far from releasing non-existent demographic pressure, destroyed the equilibrium between scarce population and abundant resources. Pre-1350 per capita income was reached by the late sixteenth century but only exceeded after 1820.