Brenner, R (1976) Class struggle and development in pre-industrial Europe

February 9, 2009

Brenner, Robert (1976) “Agrarian class structure and economic development in pre-industrial Europe”, Past and Present, 70/1, 30-75.



In this article, the author offers one of the most commented “general interpretations of the processes of long-term economic change in late medieval and early modern Europe”. He rejects the rigid Malthusian theory based solely on the laws of supply and demand and introduces class struggle as the key element driving European pre-industrial economic history (p.30). Read the rest of this entry »

Pamuk, S. (2007) The Great European Divergence

February 6, 2009

Pamuk, Şevket (2007) “The Black Death and the origins of the ‘Great Divergence’ across Europe, 1300-1600”, European Review of Economic History, 11/3, 289-317.



Recent historiography has dramatically changed the way the impact of the Black Death on the European economy was perceived. It came to be seen as a ‘creative destruction’ process, a source of “long-term changes that paved the way for the emergence of modern Europe” (p.290). In their research for the origins of the Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the West, historians have also pointed out the significance of the differences in real wages between Northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean world (p.291). Yet, the wages gap between these two regions originated even before the 1600s (p.292).
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De Moor T. and van Zanden J.L. (2005) Marrige and labour in Northwestern Europe 1300-1800

January 31, 2009

De Moor, Tine and van Zanden Jan Luiten (2005) “Girlpower. The European Marriage Pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period” in The Rise, Organozation, and Institutional Framework of Factor Markets,, 25p.


The European Marriage Pattern (EMP) was one of the most striking features of the Western European society in the Early Modern Period (late marriage, high number of single women). The authors concentrate on the “underlying structure or mechanism” that led to the EMP (p.2).

In the 9th century, the Catholic Church adopted the principle of mutual consent as the basis of marriage (p.3). Spouses were even permitted to perform the sacrament themselves and if need be in secret. The parents had officially lost any authority upon their children’s marital life. Despites resistance among the aristocracy, by the 15th century, the doctrine of consensual marriage was widespread. Read the rest of this entry »

Epstein S. R. (2000) The late medieval integration crisis

April 6, 2008

Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The late medieval crisis as “integration crisis’” in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, 38-72.


The post-war historians thought ‘traditional societies’ did not experienced growth in per caput income due to the lack of technological innovation. But recent research has shown they could be much more productive then formerly thought, so pre-modern societies operated well below their potential: technology was not a fundamental constraint. In agriculture, only a handful of regions were reaching their technological frontier: Essex, Flanders, Lombardy, etc. Elsewhere, the bulk of the medieval innovations was still to be introduced (38). Commercial progress also allowed specialisation to take place, but warfare regularly reversed these improvements (39). Read the rest of this entry »