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2 - The Rural Economy and Demographic Growth

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

David Luscombe
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
Jonathan Riley-Smith
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

the long period extending from 1050–80 to the dawn of the thirteenth century is often described as an ‘age of great progress’, and those who favour economic terminology locate the take-off of European history within it.

Indeed, a survey of the various domains of human activity reveals all the signs of a taking wing, which would not be checked for a long time to come. The soldiers, priests, farmers and merchants of the west, who had previously been confined within the Carolingian empire or on its margins, penetrated as far as northern Scandinavia, to the heart of the Slav lands, to the south of Spain and to Sicily. They were to be found even in the Near East or in the Maghreb; the Mediterranean basin seemed once again to be Christian, as were the areas on the Baltic and the North Sea. Congregations were brought under the control of the Roman Catholic church, and of the monasteries; instruction was to be had at the universities, and was increasingly open to Jewish and Islamic culture; Romanesque and, later, Gothic edifices had an impact upon every parish. As for the social context, once the threshold of the year 1000 was crossed, the seigneurie in all its myriad forms seemed well adjusted to ruling or ordering populations, whether rural or not.

The most obvious effect of this newly flourishing condition was the triumph in the west of a common frame of mind, from which fear and doubt had all but faded. There was less anxiety over spiritual matters, a greater intellectual dynamism and, gradually, a sense of a more harmonious social existence.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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References

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