The Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization

By Alfons Dopsch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V THE DIVISION OF THE SOIL AND AGRARIAN ECONOMY IN THE LATE ROMAN AND EARLY MEDIEVAL PERIODS

EARLIER scholars, in consequence of their conception of the so-called folk- migration and of the German conquest of the West Roman Empire, found themselves in a position of constraint when they came to describe German material civilization. For if the ancient and lofty civilization of the Romans had succumbed to the destructive inundations of the migration, and if all that Rome stood for had been swept away by the German barbarians during the conquest, the immediate consequence would be an interruption of civilization--a devastation in Voltaire's sense--which necessitated the assumption that afterwards everything would have to be built up again from the beginning. These utterly uncivilized German conquerors would have gradually and painfully to rediscover and work out all that had once existed on the far side of that great burial ground of civilization. This would be true both in the economic and in the social sphere. If the Germans were depicted during the land occupation of the sixth century as free and equal peasants, so far without any political organization and if, therefore, they settled in communities of families, it would seem a plausible theory that their whole agrarian economy rested on associations which had a common right to the settled land, "the Mark," without any private ownership of arable. Within the framework of this picture there was as little room in early German society for the great estate as for a stronger social organization.

Those who promulgated this earlier theory do not seem to have asked themselves seriously how, given these hypotheses, the complete economic isolation, which had logically to be ascribed to this primitive development, could possibly have been overcome in such a short time, and that by barbarians who had so recently shown themselves completely hostile to culture. The expedient by which they sought to support their theory does not give any satisfactory answer to this question. The distinction usually made between the Roman provincial regions (such as Gaul, Spain, and Italy) and the purely German districts, is essentially at variance with the theory itself, which holds that in these Roman provinces the Roman towns and settlements were burnt and destroyed and the population massacred or led away into slavery, while a scanty remnant was reduced to serfdom, and its lands expropriated. It is difficult to believe that uncultured conquerors so quickly lost their savagery under the influence of a few serfs, and that after a single century (only the seventh is left for the purpose) they are in a position to build up what had been so thoroughly overthrown and trampled under foot for at least three (the fourth to the sixth). Indeed, from the sociological point of view, it is impossible to find any plausible reason why these German landowners, living only for war and the chase and never labouring in the fields themselves, should have condescended so quickly to do the despised servile work of their Roman subjects. It was certainly easier to live upon rent than to wrest a scanty livelihood from the soil by their own labour.

-132-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 406

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.