Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe

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Harcourt, Brace, 1956 - Business & Economics - 239 pages
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"In this book, Henri Pirenne, the great Belgian economic historian, traces the character and general movement of the economic and social evolution of Western Europe from the end of the Roman Empire to the middle of the fifteenth century. From the breakup of the economic equilibrium of the ancient world to the revival of commerce, the redevelopment of credit, the trade of commodities, the origins of urban industry, and the rebirth of new forms of protectionism, mercantilism, and capitalism, Pirenne presents as complete a picture of the medieval world as is possible in one volume." -- Back cover.

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User Review  - jhw - LibraryThing

Points of interest: A. Generalization Exchange and trade had sunk to lowest ebb in ninth century. One lasting result of Crusades - to give Italian towns mastery of Mediterranean. Flanders the one ... Read full review

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Great book.Read his other books also.He explains the real reson of the decline of Europe.ISLAM

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Page 47 - Europe, crystallised in its agricultural civilisation, could not of itself have become so rapidly acquainted with a new sort of life, in the absence of external stimulus and example. The attitude of the Church, the most powerful landowner of the time, towards commerce, an attitude not merely passive but actively hostile, is quite enough proof of that. If the first beginnings of commercial capitalism partly evade our notice, it is much easier to follow its evolution during the course of the twelfth...
Page 10 - The large number of markets might seem at first sight to contradict the commercial paralysis of the age, for from the beginning of the ninth century they increased rapidly and new ones were continually being founded. But their number is itself proof of their insignificance. Only the fair of St. Denys, near Paris (the fair of Lendit), attracted once a year, among its pilgrims, occasional sellers and buyers from a distance. Apart from it there were only innumerable small weekly markets, where the peasants...
Page 143 - Gesellenverb&nde (Leipzig, 1877). — E. Martin Saint-Leon, Le compagnonnage (Paris, 1901). — H. Pirenne, Histoire de Belgique, t. II (Brussels, 3rd ed., 1922). — S. Salvemini, Magnati e popolani in Firenze dal 1280 al 1295 (Florence, 1899). — C. Falletti-Fossati, // tumulto dei Ciompi (Florence, 1882).
Page 11 - ... cannot be considered as anything but that of accessories. Society lost nothing essential by their disappearance. Thus, from every point of view, Western Europe, from the ninth century onwards, appears in the light of an essentially rural society, in which exchange and the move
Page 7 - It is quite plain, from such evidence as we possess, that from the end of the eighth century Western Europe had sunk back into a purely agricultural state. Land was the sole source of subsistence and the sole condition of wealth. All classes of the population, from the Emperor, who had no other revenues than those derived from his landed property, down to the humblest serf, lived directly or indirectly on the products of the soil, whether they raised them by their labour, or confined themselves to...
Page 55 - immunity," which protected the man who took refuge there from exterior authority, as if he had sought sanctuary in a church. In short, the bourgeoisie was in every sense an exceptional class. Each town formed, so to speak, a little state to itself, jealous of its prerogatives and hostile to all its neighbors.
Page 51 - Freedom became the legal status of the bourgeoisie, so much so that", according to Pirenne, "it was no longer a personal privilege only but a territorial one, inherent in urban soil just as serfdom was in manorial soil. In order to obtain it, it was enough to have resided for a year and a day within the walls of the...
Page 55 - ... surrounded on all sides by the new quarters, were falling into ruin like the old law itself. Henceforth, all who resided within the city wall, with the sole exception of the clergy, shared the privileges of the burgesses. The essential characteristic of the bourgeoisie was, indeed, the fact that it formed a privileged class in the midst of the rest of the population.
Page 145 - ... Pirenne's Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe (1937). Here he noted that the beginning of the fourteenth century marked the end of the period of medieval economic expansion, that "during the early years of the fourteenth century there is observable in all these directions [of economic activity | not perhaps a decline but a cessation of all advance. Europe lived, so to speak, on what had been acquired; the economic front was stabilized.
Page 13 - Moreover, the Church's conception of the world was admirably adapted to the economic conditions of an age in which land was the sole foundation of the social order. Land had been given by God to men in order to enable them to live here below with a view to their eternal salvation. The object of labour was not to grow wealthy but to maintain oneself in the position in which one was born, until mortal life should pass into life eternal.

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