SHIPPING AND INLAND TRANSPORTATION
Hindrances to the development of trade during the Middle Ages were many, but certainly one of the most important was the lack of adequate means of transportation and communication. The Roman art of road construction was apparently lost, and the crude roads of the succeeding centuries were destined to experience little improvement in their construction until modern times. Inadequate at best, the roads became practically impassable in wet weather. In feudal times, roads were often constructed by serfs under a corvée exacted by the lord. Bridges, however, were frequently built by contract, though serfs might be employed in their construction.
Lacking good roads, transportation was carried on as far as possible by water -- on rivers, seas, and along the coast line of Europe. Thus the trade routes of Europe, and from Europe to the Orient, made use of rivers and large expanses of water. The hindrances and perils of transportation by water, however, were quite as great as those by land. Even following the improvements made during the Crusades, ships, though larger, were far from safe on the open sea. Added to these difficulties were the everpresent tolls on ships as well as goods, and the possibility of meeting hostile peoples, robbers, and pirates.
The materials of this section should be studied in conjunction with those of Section VI on Partnerships,. and Part VI, Section IV, on Tolls. From these two sections further information may be obtained concerning maritime practices and restrictions.
The Romans were renowned for the good roads they constructed for military and commercial purposes. The emperors did not neglect the