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Origins of the European Economy

Origins of the European Economy
Communications and Commerce AD 300–900

$176.00 (C)

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  • Date Published: February 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521661027
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$ 176.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This is the first comprehensive analysis of the economic transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages in over sixty years. It brings fresh evidence to bear on the fall of the Roman empire and the origins of the medieval economy. The book uses new material from recent excavations, and develops a new method for the study of hundreds of travelers to reconstitute the communications infrastructure that conveyed those travelers--ship sailings, overland routes--linking Europe to Africa and Asia, from the time of the later Roman empire to the reign of Charlemagne and beyond.

    • A broad synthesis using recent results from archaeology and science to elucidate the fall of the Roman empire and the origins of the European medieval economy
    • Offers a new history of early European commerce and shipping, based on the 'new history' of communications and their infrastructures
    • Written in clear, non-technical English, and illustrated by 41 spectacular maps and by numerous charts and graphs
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2003 Economic History Association's Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize for an outstanding book on the economic history of Europe

    Reviews & endorsements

    " erudite corpus of information, this book is impressive..." SPECULUM

    "One of the most appealing aspects of the book is McCormick's diffidence. He marshals enormous collections of evidence, makes insightful deductions....No serious academic library supporing upper level history research can be without this outstanding, if 'provisional,' survey of a topic which is now more clear to us." Catholic Library World

    "McCormick has produced a large and ambitious work whose substantive objective is to establish that travel and trade developed significanlty earlier in Europe...than some medival historians have been prepared to believe... The book is...important, addressing as it does a difficult period in economic history....Recommended for academic and research collections, upper-division undergraduate through faculty." Choice

    "McCormick has written a Decline and Fall for the twenty-first century. This big book...should transform our view of pre-modern history and the ways in which it may be studied....his brilliant book will shatter most people's conceptions of the Dark Ages." The Times Literary Supplement

    "The book is rich with practical details of early medieval travel, the storms, fevers, delays, miracles and pirates...Unlike some of his European counterparts amongst historians, McCormick is also archaelogically literate, recognizing the huge advances of the last thirty years, but accurately hitting upon many of the remaining lacunae, both in Mediterranean urban archaelogy and in northern Europe...The maps are consistent, clear and accurate...strategy, endurance, organization and resources win wars. McCormick has all of these things, and this is indeed a monumental and inspiring achievement. Cambridge University Press is to be congratulated on a polished and well-edited production." EH.NET

    "An awesome book... The results are little short of extraordinary. McCormick has established a benchmark for what, as he rightly points out, has been a virtual world lost between those studying East and West, and North and South. Time will show what a massively useful work this is." Agrarian History Review

    "Indisputably a monumental study." International Journal of Maritime History

    "McCormick's book is a masterpiece of craft … McCormick, like Bloch and Pirenne, is writing a different kind of economic history: 'economic history as cultural history' … McCormick has carried the best work of the early twentieth century on into the twenty-first - not just by adding more lanes, but by carving out a whole new route." The New Republic

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    Customer reviews

    15th Feb 2017 by MatMar

    Un libro di ampio respiro, molto utile soprattutto per farsi un'idea delle tempistiche di viaggio, della tecnologia, degli interessi commerciali che muovevano Mediterraneo e nord Euoropa dal tardo antico al medioevo. Ottimo.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2002
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521661027
    • length: 1130 pages
    • copublisher: Harvard Historical Studies
    • dimensions: 246 x 178 x 66 mm
    • weight: 2kg
    • contains: 39 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Commerce, communications and the origins of the European economy
    Part I. The End of the World:
    1. The end of the ancient world
    2. Late Roman industry: case studies in decline
    3. Land and river communications in late antiquity
    4. Sea change in late antiquity
    The end of the ancient economy: a provisional balance sheet
    Part II. People on the Move
    5. A few western faces
    6. Two hundred more envoys and pilgrims: group portrait
    7. Byzantine faces
    8. Easterners heading west: group portrait
    9. Traders, slaves, and exiles
    People on the move
    Part III. Things that Travelled:
    10. Hagiographical horizons: collecting exotic relics in early medieval France
    11. 'Virtual' coins and communications
    12. 'Real money': Arab and Byzantine coins around Carolingian Europe
    Things on the move
    Part IV. The Patterns of Change:
    13. The experience of travel
    14. Secular rhythms: communications over time
    15. Seasonal rhythms
    16. Time under way
    17. 'Spaces of sea': Europe's western Mediterranean communications
    18. Venetian breakthrough: Europe's central Mediterranean communications
    19. New overland routes
    The patterns of change
    Part V. Commerce:
    20. Early medieval trading worlds
    21. Where are the merchants?: Italy
    22. Merchants and markets of Frankland
    23. Connections
    24. Where are the wares?: eastern imports to Europe
    25. European exports to Africa and Asia
    At the origins of the European economy

  • Author

    Michael McCormick, Harvard University, Massachusetts


    • Winner of the 2003 Economic History Association's Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize for an outstanding book on the economic history of Europe
    • Winner of The Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy of America

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