The Carolingian Economy

The Carolingian Economy

The Carolingian Economy

The Carolingian Economy

Synopsis

The economy of the Carolingian empire (753-877), extended from the Pyrenees and the northern shores of the Mediterranean to the North Sea, and from the Atlantic coast to the Elbe and Saale rivers. Aspects of land and people, agrarian production and technique, craft and industry, and regional and international commerce are analyzed, and the Carolingian economy is reassessed in a European context.

Excerpt

The title of this book needs some explanation. 'Carolingian economy' has to be understood here as 'the economy of the Carolingian empire'. the 'economy of the Carolingian period' would be too broad, not being limited to the empire within its borders under Charlemagne, which is the point of view adopted here. Countries and regions outside the empire, such as England, Scandinavia, the Islamic empire (including the bigger part of Spain), the Byzantine empire and eastern Europe, will be considered only in so far as their commercial relations with the Carolingian empire are at stake. the chronological terms, from the middle of the eighth century to the end of the ninth, are necessarily political, but they coincide by chance with the beginning and the end of an economic period, as will be demonstrated in Chapter 10. 'Carolingian economy' can also be understood as an economy directed by the Carolingian rulers. I do not reject this interpretation altogether, but it will be elucidated in Chapter 9 on 'The economy and the state'. 'Economy' is used in its singular form although the Carolingian empire was not an economically homogeneous area. Several regional 'economies' can be defined, each having different characteristics regarding population, the use of money, the presence of towns, the intensity of trade, etc. the territories between the Loire and the Rhine, between the Rhine and the frontier of the empire on the Elbe river and northern Italy are the most striking examples. Nevertheless an inquiry into the specificity of the Carolingian economy as a whole, compared with regions outside the empire or to economic situations before and after the Carolingian period . . .

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