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The Cambridge Economic History of Europe from the Decline of the Roman Empire
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    Blaydes, Lisa and Paik, Christopher 2016. The Impact of Holy Land Crusades on State Formation: War Mobilization, Trade Integration, and Political Development in Medieval Europe. International Organization, Vol. 70, Issue. 03, p. 551.


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    The Cambridge Economic History of Europe from the Decline of the Roman Empire
    • Online ISBN: 9781139054430
    • Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094
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Book description

The second volume of The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, first published in 1952, was a survey by an international group of specialist scholars covering trade and industry in pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine Europe, the medieval trade of northern and southern Europe, and the histories of medieval woollen manufacture, mining and metallurgy, and building in stone. This second edition, in addition to revising most chapters and the bibliographies appended to them, also fills gaps which arose from the wartime and post-war circumstances in which the first edition was written. New chapters provide accounts of the trade and industry of eastern Europe, of medieval Europe's trade with Asia and Africa, and of medieval coinage and currency. Taken with volumes I and III of the series, this volume is designed to complete a comprehensive review of the economic history of medieval Europe as a whole. It was planned by the late Sir Michael Postan, and was largely completed under his editorship.

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  • CHAPTER I - Trade and Industry in Barbarian Europe till Roman Times
    pp 1-70
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.003
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The history of trade and industry in barbarian Europe is essentially the history of activities which have been transformed almost beyond recognition. In the anthropological model the production and circulation of commodities is secondary to the proper functioning of a culture and operating only to satisfy its essential needs. Certain broad thresholds can be discerned in the developing economic pattern of prehistoric Europe, thresholds which have important implications for the growth of trade and industry. The most significant thresholds can be usefully employed to define six interlocking phases in which the economic patterns, and therefore the trade, the technology and the industrial potential, of Europe were cumulatively repatterned. The six phases are the gathering-hunting-fishing economies, the agrarian economies, the Aegean network and the early bronze technologies, the Mycenaean network and the developed bronze technologies, the colonial networks and the late bronze technologies, and the colonial empires and the pre-industrial iron technologies.
  • CHAPTER II - Trade and Industry under the Later Roman Empire in the West
    pp 71-131
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.004
  • View abstract
    Summary
    A review of the trade and industry of the later Empire begins with the principate. The annexation of the old-established provinces of the eastern Mediterranean under the Republic had exercised a profound influence upon the economic life of the West. Africa, Spain, Gaul, Germany, the Danube areas and Britain were all markets for Italian bronze, glass and pottery, and this trade laid the foundations of the prosperity of Aquileia, through which much of it passed. An edict such as Diocletian's would have been completely at variance with the economic practice of the early Empire. Hellenistic age provides evidence of several Greek cities legislating to fix prices, the Roman government by contrast had hitherto taken for granted the free operation of bargaining. The scanty records of trade and industry give some indication of the economic decline of the West during the last century and a half of the Empire.
  • CHAPTER III - Byzantine Trade and Industry
    pp 132-167
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.005
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Byzantine economic history shows a marked contrast to the economic history of other medieval states. In spite of political problems caused by the religious and administrativegrievances of Syria and Egypt against the government at Constantinople, the fifth century was a period of growing prosperity. Towards the end of the eleventh century Byzantine trade began to undergo drastic changes from which it was never to recover. To medieval eyes Constantinople had the air of a great industrial city. Travellers were struck by its active industries, by the buildingwork, by the furniture factories and potteries, and by all the other-works necessary for a great city's life. The manufacture of luxuries was especially impressive. Of these the silk industry was the most remarkable. The merchant Cosmas Indicopleustes, writing in the sixth century, declared that the prosperity of the Empire was due to two causes, Christianity and the coinage.
  • CHAPTER IV - The Trade of Medieval Europe: the North
    pp 168-305
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.006
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The trade of northern Europe was quite different. The significance of wine in international trade was not only in the quantities in which it was drunk, but also in the conditions under which it came to be produced. Several contiguous regions of northern Europe became successively industrialised as the Middle Ages drew to their close, and all this industrial activity grew up on imported wool. The scope of medieval trade is all the more remarkable for the various obstacles which beset the merchant. The course of medieval trade from the tenth century onwards can be traced both in its changing volume and in its expanding geography. The purely political implications of economic geography are perhaps most obvious in the opening phase of medieval trade. The one geographical feature of North European trade in the Merovingian and early Carolingian period which historians take more or less for granted is its withdrawal from the world economy of the Roman Empire.
  • CHAPTER V - The Trade of Medieval Europe: the South
    pp 306-401
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.007
  • View abstract
    Summary
    By the tenth century, Syrians and Greeks had entirely withdrawn from commerce in the western Mediterranean, and faced Italian competition in the international trade of their own countries. Before exploring the consequences of Italy's early start, it seems necessary to shift the focus from basic trends to the chronological sequences of events in the various parts of the early medieval European South. Commercialisation had to precede industrialisation: so long as artisans had inadequate machines, they could not, like merchants, make sufficient profit to accumulate capital or attract credit at a low cost. Leaving for treatment elsewhere an analysis of the commercial methods and tools that carried forward the Commercial Revolution, it is necessary to describe in detail its progress from take-off to full speed in the European South. The main axis of commerce continued to run from the north-west to the south-east, from eastern and southern Europe to Muslim and Byzantine countries, as it did in the early Middle Ages.
  • CHAPTER VI - Asia, Africa and the Trade of Medieval Europe
    pp 402-473
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.008
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter investigates the major trade routes, carrying gold and spices towards Europe, textiles and slaves out of Europe. The cities of Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia had a long history of commercial prosperity. Towards the end of the twelfth century a new force in Egyptian trade seems to emerge, with commercial interests in Yemen, India and also nearer home in Damascus. The two means of access to the Far East from the Mediterranean, overland through Central Asia and by sea round India, flourished at different times and rarely competed directly with one another. Turkey was in a similar trading position to Western Europe at the same period: it was exporting silver, but acquiring gold. Access to African gold helped assure the economic primacy of the Muslim shores of the Mediterranean over Iraq, Iran or Byzantium, and, after 1200, it helped build the economic success of the Christian shores of the Mediterranean and the dominance of the Italians and the Catalans.
  • CHAPTER VII - Trade and Industry in Eastern Europe Before 1200
    pp 474-524
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.009
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Historians of the European economy, concerned with its medieval beginnings, have for long drawn attention to the importance of long-distance trade. In particular they have been interested in the links between the countries of western and Eastern Europe in their dealings with central Asia and Byzantium. The trade between the Slavonic countries and their nearer and further neighbours had its roots in the different economic and social features of the partners. The part played by the Scandinavians in organising trade from the Baltic to Central Asia and the Greek world includes their activities within the Baltic itself. Goods coming from Western Europe to the Slav countries went by several routes as well as through the Baltic. Markets and small towns possessing only rudimentary crafts acted mainly as intermediaries between customers and the big centres of handicraft production. The specific features of metallic money circulation in Slavonic territories during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries are discussed.
  • CHAPTER VIII - The Trade of Eastern Europe in the Later Middle Ages
    pp 525-612
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.010
  • View abstract
    Summary
    This chapter outlines how trade developed in Eastern Europe during the later Middle Ages fully confirms the original assertion regarding the differences between the economic conditions prevailing in the individual regions. In addition to an expanding agricultural economy, the existence of a mining industry and a favourable conjunction of important long distance trade routes exerted a powerful influence on events. Economic relations between Bohemia and Poland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were very flexible. At the end of the thirteenth century, or somewhat later, the trade routes joining the Prussian towns of the Teutonic Knights with Silesia, Bohemia and Austria probably had influence on the economic boom in western Great Poland. The supply of grey Polish cloth to Prussia reached significant proportions in the fifteenth century. Research into the history of western Pomerania is still in its early stages and there may perhaps be surprises in the future although it is doubtful whether the picture seen is radically altered.
  • CHAPTER IX - The Woollen Industry
    pp 613-690
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.011
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Romans of the early Empire supplied their need for cloth from a specialised industry. First to develop a large-scale woollen industry was southern Italy. Spain was supplying the northern industry with a certain amount of wool from her rapidly developing sheep-farms, at any rate by the mid-thirteenth century. In England, Spanish wool was used in London and Winchester at the end of the century and doubtless in other parts of the south-eastern manufacturing region. In one respect the organisation of the Italian industry in the fourteenth century differed markedly from that of the North in the thirteenth century. The advance of the English woollen industry to that position of pre-eminence which it has since enjoyed is one of the cardinal facts of the later Middle Ages. The new possibilities inherent in the development of the fulling mill gave England, with its abundant water power, one decisive advantage over Flanders.
  • CHAPTER X - Mining and Metallurgy in Medieval Civilisation
    pp 691-761
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.012
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Modern mining and metallurgy offered natural scientists new materials for speculative thought and experiment. The development of the mining and metallurgical industries has contributed to the triumph of industrial civilisation. In classical times mining was generally regarded as a much less desirable occupation than agriculture. A decline in the output of metal began in Europe in the third century. In Central Europe as far as the Balkans, the principal regions of German colonisation, the overlords generally threw open to all comers the rights to search for minerals, to mine and to convert ores to metals. In many mining communities, especially in Central Europe, the laws and customs were eventually embodied in codes written in longhand. In the Eastern Alps there is more evidence of continuity between Roman and medieval mining than in any other part of Europe. At the end of the Middle Ages the rapid development of continental mining and metallurgy showed signs of waning.
  • CHAPTER XI - Building in Stone in Medieval Western Europe
    pp 762-787
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.013
  • View abstract
    Summary
    In the years which have gone by since Werner Sombart called attention to the desirability of investigating the economic history of building, relatively little has been done in that direction with regard to medieval Europe as a whole though some notable contributions have been made in regard to particular buildings and countries. This chapter describes the characteristics of the industry by considering in turn the impetus given to building, some technical changes of importance, the chief problems of supply, the system of administration, and the conditions and organisation of master workmen and ordinary operatives in the chief building craft, that of the mason. In the main medieval builders used local stone, sometimes when it was not very suitable, because the cost of transport was high, and for the same reason as much as possible of the scappling and dressing was done at the quarry.
  • CHAPTER XII - Coinage and Currency
    pp 788-863
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521087094.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The coinage of the late Roman Empire reflected its economic decrepitude. It was basically a non-commercial coinage of gold that the barbarians had inherited. The silver penny or denier, the minting of which began during the tentative revival of trade in the seventh century was, for over five centuries, not merely the characteristic coin of western Europe, but virtually the only coin in use. In a quite remarkable way, and for the only time in the Middle Ages, non-European coins formed, in some sense at least, a part of the currency of Europe. In Florence the gold florin began as the lira in the system of money based on the denaro piccolo, whilst the grosso or silver florin was still the soldo. In the light of the present knowledge the silver famines of the late fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries appear more severe than anything that had taken place since the seventh century.

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