Early_Medieval_land_structures_and_their

Early_Medieval_land_structures_and_their - Debate Manors...

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tijdschrift voor sociale en economische geschiedenis 8 [2011] nr. 2, pp. 61-138 DEBATE Manors and Markets. Economy and Society in the Low Countries 500-1600 tseg_2011-2-def.indd 61 23-6-2011 16:40:15
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62 » Bas van Bavel Manors and markets. Economy and society in the Low Countries (500-1600): a synopsis The recent publication Manors and Markets. Economy and society in the Low Countries 500-1600 by Bas van Bavel offers an international audience a first- hand account of more than a thousand years of social and economic develop- ments in one of the most dynamic regions of medieval Europe. Inspired by the book, and challenged by its provocative arguments, several historians engage in an in-depth discussion of its methodological and analytical strengths, and Van Bavel’s basic assumption that a mix of region-specific social relations and institutions dating back to the period of initial land reclamation can explain regional trajectories of economic growth and decline, social welfare or polariza- tion. Through the issues they raise, the different contributions gradually define the research agenda in the field of social and economic history for years to come. Opening this debate, Van Bavel first gives an overview of the main argument developed in Manors and markets. The Low Countries formed a patchwork of varied economic and social devel- opments in the Middle Ages, with some regions displaying a remarkable dynamism. Manors and markets charts the history of these vibrant economies and societies, and contrasts them with alternative paths of development, from the early medieval period to the beginning of the seventeenth century. It also offers an explanation for the differences in long-term development, differ- ences which are most apparent at the regional level. The various reviews in this volume, and also my reply to them, discuss the methodological and ana- lytical aspects of the book; this synopsis is primarily meant to summarise the contents of Manors and markets . The book first introduces the various explanations offered in historiogra- phy for the patterns of social change and economic development in the pre- industrial period, and for the regional differences in this process. It proposes employing a combination of new institutional economics and an analysis of the social distribution of power and property in order to understand these dif- ferences better. It argues that the relevant factors are located at the regional level and show a strong path-dependency. This approach is tested on the Low Countries, starting from the hypothesis that the regional socio-institutional structures formed in the early and high Middle Ages exercised a determin- ing influence on later development, resulting in distinctive paths of regional development. In order to understand the genesis of these regional structures, chapter 2 investigates the landscapes and soils, and discusses the interaction between land, water and men in the Low Countries. This interaction contributed to Debate tseg_2011-2-def.indd 62 23-6-2011 16:40:15
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Debate: Manors and Markets » 63
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  • Summer '14
  • Middle Ages, Low Countries, Van Bavel, Bas van Bavel

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