Around the year 1000 Rodulfus Glaber described France as being in the throes of a building boom. He may have been the first writer to perceive the early medieval period as a Dark Age that was ending to be replaced by a better world. In the articles gathered here distinguished medieval historians discuss the ways in which this transformation took place. European society was becoming more stable, the climate was improving, and the population increasing so that it was necessary to increase food production. These circumstances in turn led to the cutting down of forests, the draining of wetlands, and the creation of pastures on higher elevations from which the glaciers had retreated. New towns were established to serve as economic and administrative centers. These developments were witness to the processes of internal colonization that helped create medieval Europe.
Contents: Introduction. Part 1 The Matrix: Mentality and Demography: The ascent of Latin Europe, Karl Leyser; On the evidence of growth of population in the West from the 11th to the 13th century, Léopold Génicot; The 'feudal' economy and capitalism: words, ideas and reality, Jacques Heers; Cultural climates and technological advance in the Middle Ages, Lynn White Jr. Part 2 Infrastructure and Ecology: Economic development and aquatic ecosystems in medieval Europe, Richard C. Hoffmann; The extent of the English forest in the 13th century, Margaret Ley Bazeley; The evolution of land transport in the Middle Ages, R.S. Lopez; A day's journey in medieval France, Marjorie Nice Boyer; The Cistercian order and the settlement of Northern England, R.A. Donkin. Part 3 The Rural Economy: The chronology of labour services, M. Postan; An Italian estate, 900-1200, P.J. Jones; Lords and peasants: a reappraisal of medieval economic relationships, M. Toch; An industrial revolution of the 13th century, E.M. Carus-Wilson. Part 4 Urban and Commercial Expansion: Urban evolution during the early Middle Ages, M. Lombard; Settlement patterns, urban functions and capital formation in medieval Flanders, D. Nicholas; Index.
The 'rise of the west' is the most familiar and most elusive topic in global history. Everyone agrees it happened. No one can say how, when, where or why, without provoking dissent. Yet the world we inhabit is, by universal acknowledgement, the outcome.
In recent years, controversy has focussed on the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - the 'early modern period', when Western expansion became a conspicuous phenomenon in a world of colliding empires and unprecedented long-range cultural exchange. But, like most such apparently new departures in history, Western European activity in the 'expanding world' of early modernity is best understood against a background of long, sometimes faltering preparation in the Middle Ages.
Therefore, following the success of the series An Expanding World, a series of key papers on the period, published by Routledge and edited by A.J.R. Russell-Wood, Ashgate has commissioned an attempt to collect cutting-edge research on the medieval background and events of European expansion. Felipe Fernandez-Armesto and James Muldoon have gathered classic and key contributions from learned journals and other arcane publications to give readers a conspectus of knowledge, analysis and reflection on the history of the frontiers, mental horizons, internal expansion and means of growth of Latin Christendom from the eleventh to the early sixteenth centuries.