Uneven regional development in the Middle Ages: “younger Europe”in transcontinentaland intercontinental networks


czw. 26.11.2020 | 10:00 -
czw. 28.11.2019 | 18:00
dr hab. Dariusz Adamczyk
dr Zdeněk Nebřenský

Data konferencji: 26-28 listopada 2020

Uneven regional development in the Middle Ages: “younger Europe”in transcontinentaland intercontinental networks

The conference organized by the German Historical Institute Warsaw in cooperation with the Centre for Medieval Studies, Prague

Prague, November 26-28, 2020

Uneven development is most commonly defined in terms of thegap between highly developed, industrialized  countries  and agrarian countrieswhose  economies  are  dominated  by  primary sector activities.Historians have been pointing out for years that the inequalitiesprevailing in the world arise from structural conditions thatare resistant to change and thereforedevelop very slowly  (F.  Braudel).Thus, inequalitiesare  not  only  the consequencesof  the  Industrial Revolution;they certainly also existed inpre-modern societies.But how do inequalities arise and in which areas do they express themselves? Are they the result of thenon-simultaneity of development indifferent regions, which is partly due to geographical conditions (“disadvantaged places”) and thus a constant inpre-industrial societies? Or are they created  through  interactions  and  confrontations  with  more  economically  and  technologically advanced structures? If the latter is true, theninequalities are caused by external factors.The  starting  point  of  the  conference  is  the  recognition  that  “younger  Europe”,which J. Kłoczowski essentially equateswithEast Central Europe, although the Balkans, KievianRus,and Scandinaviacould  be  considered  a  part  of  itin  some  centuries, has  been  included  in continental and intercontinental interaction networkssince the Early Middle Ages.In the ninth and  tenth  centuries,  the  economies  of  north-western  Eurasia were alreadyremarkably entangled. For example, between about 900 and 950, silver mines in Uzbekistan were runningat full speed to serve markets that ranged from the Urals in the eastto the Celtic lands on the Atlanticcoastin the west,and from the Crimea in the south to central Swedenin the north. But such interactions did  not  just  involve  the  exchange  ofprecious  metals  and  goods,  whichstimulated commercial cycles. Foreign trade (along with tributes and booty) formed the fiscal and economic basis of the ruleof nascent early medieval dynasties. In parallel, the elites of the emerging states converted to Christianity,to both the Latin and Orthodox rites. From the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, a profound transformation of society and culture took place, resulting in the increasing emergence of cities with borough rights, the resettlement of the  countrysidewith  free  peasants, the construction  of  castles, the expansionof  written communication,and  the  founding  of  monasteries  and  universities.  These  phenomena  spread from west toeast. In the late fourteenthcenturyand throughout thefifteenth century, Ottoman campaigns led to the conquest of large parts of the Balkans, which initiated theperipheralization of this region. Thistransformationraises the questionofto what extent,and in what regional terms,networks and  interactions  deepened  or –on  the  contrary –levelled  outexisting  social  and  economic differences  in  development. Papers  that focus  onthefollowing topicsand  explore  them  in comparative perspective are encouraged:

-Trade and goods production

-Monetization and commercialization

-Sovereignsand estates

-Cities and borough rights

-The status of peasants and rural commoners

-The foundation of universities and monasteries

-Imaginationsof unevenness and the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous.


Conference languages are German and English.

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