The Patterns of the Rise and Fall of Civilizations, Observed by the Eyes of Oswald Spengler

An analysis of previous history and a prediction of history to come

Michael Snellen


Published in the bleak but hopeful year of 1918, German slash philosopher slash historian Oswald Spengler meditated on human history with his opus The Decline of the West, more accurately translated to English as The Downfall of the Occident.

Inspired by the idea that the lives of civilizations follow similar patterns, Spengler set out to understand the death of the Western world, made clear by the desolation of The Great War, as well as to predict the birth of the future, or how a new civilization may rise out of the ashes.

This article is an adaptation of this video:

The Seasons of Culture

Spring —

Origin of a culture’s principles.

The people are strongly tied to the land; a deeply religious and heroic period.

Summer —

The time when the culture is in high form.

The country-side and city life both have equal influence; an age of increasing refinement in taste, manners and politics; traditions seem clear and obvious.

Autumn —

The culture’s principles start to break down.

Rise of the Megalopolis; urban rationalism sterilizes the culture through criticism; politics increasingly swayed by economic concerns.

Winter —

The culture petrifies into its final form.

Cities depopulate; despots take control of society; art becomes repetitive imitations of past works.

The Civilization Model

Spring, 1000–1500 A.D. — Government Form: Feudalism

Nobility and Priesthood



Michael Snellen

Founder and CEO of Catholicism for the Modern World, Writer, Podcast Host, Teacher.