The Making of Feudal Agricultures?

The Making of Feudal Agricultures?

The Making of Feudal Agricultures?

The Making of Feudal Agricultures?

Synopsis

Was there a discernible set of changes in the techniques of arable farming, animal husbandry and their associated technologies at the end of antiquity which marked a clear break with an established ancient world economy and ushered in the new agricultures of the early middle ages? Were such changes not already visible in antiquity? And what was the impact of political, economic, social and environmental change in these processes? The 6 papers in this volume reject simple evolutionary models charting progress from protohistory" to the "Roman period" to the "Dark Ages" to the "Middle Ages" and insisted rather on the notion of inheritance, so that the farming economy laid down in protohistoric times continued to exist during the early Middle Ages. The collapse of a capitalistic commercial economy of the later Roman Empire though accompanied by political and military crises did not entail a regression of the farming economy. The growth in farming in the 8th - 9th C, resting on a demographic increase combined with intensive land clearance episodes, owed much to the preceding centuries: the change resides more in an intensification than in the introduction of new features. With contributions by Pascal Reigniez, Catherine Rommelaere, Georges Raepsaet, G. Comet, Aline Durand and Philippe Leveau."

Excerpt

Miquel Barceló

The initial purpose of this volume was to examine the technological factors which contributed to the making of post-Roman agricultures. the original scope soon appeared to be too broadly cast and, on closer inspection, the variables enunciated in the standard literature proved resistent to any classificatory scheme that promised explanatory value. the evidence at hand only seldom permits a satisfactory conclusion regarding the decisive contribution of any one of them in the making of recognizably distinct new agricultures. Tool improvement, selective changes in cereal crops, water-mills diffusion, new ways of animal breeding, or variation of field shapes are, for example, easily placed on the record, but the meaning of any of them in relation to the rest becomes blurred. Indeed, the more precise and tightly chronological the historical context in which we expect sets of related factors to have come together, the harder it is to establish the correlation. the habitual listing of technological factors contributing to discernible “growth” by the late tenth and early eleventh centuries is clearly unsufficient to prove anything of the kind. How in any case such “growth” could have been attained is seldom satisfactorily discussed. Nor can it be clearly stated whether, beyond the stock list of technological factors, the notion of “growth” alludes to something real, that is, new agricultural systems linked perhaps to feudalization.

A notorious problem is the absence of any formal questioning of the relevance of the notion of “growth” to working peasantries as they emerge in written evidence or in the archaeological record of early feudal times. For example, I am not aware of any debate among medievalists similar to the one about “the ancient economy” (Finley 1973; Scheidel & von Reden eds. 2002). Curiously enough the question of technological change is almost entirely dismissed by “primitivists” and “modernists, ” at the same as it has been crucial for scholars seeking an explanation for the transformations of the Roman world, as if the real break with antiquity was a process of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.