Some Belgian scholars have argued that the creation of their country was a historical chance. From to Italy, governed by Theodoric, maintained a hegemony over all the Germanic king- doms, a hegemony through which the power of the Roman tradition was perpetuated and assured. Those in the south of Gaul were in close relations with their coreligionists of Moslem Spain, to whom they are accused of having sold Christian children. It had put an end to the Mediterranean commonwealth in which it had gathered its strength. But the position which they occupied must have early led them to practise an economy of exchange.

External Websites Britannica Websites. By permission of Mrs. The importance of the trade which they kept up as much with the Moslem Empire as with the Greek, is made clear by the extraordinary number of Arab and Byzan- tine coins discovered in Russia and which mark, like a golden compass needle, the direction of the commercial routes. It had always united the countries surrounding the eastern Mediter- ranean, from which it drew its chief wealth, with the less developed countries of the West, including northern Gaul and Britain, And when, at the beginning of the fourth century, first Diocletian and then Constan- tine removed the central administration from Rome eastwards, it had become ob- vious to Roman generals and lawyers, as well as to the adherents of Christianity, that the real centre of the Empire lay at the junction of Asia and Europe. Not civilization in general, but only Roman civilization was in question in the fifth century, although most of the writers of that time thought of their own tradition as civilization itself.

They welcomed them as sol- diers, edfine found them useful and also deco- rative as slaves. It would be absurd to treat a change in social custom, such as the wearing of trousers instead of tunics in the fifth century, as a decay or decline of any- thing whatever.

His radical reinterpretation of the transition between Roman and medieval civilizations stimulated a great deal of criticism and controversy, particularly his almost exclusively economic interpretation of causation in history.


How was the world of antiquity which we call Roman transformed into the medieval society which we call European? For example, the Visigoths and Burgundians were granted leave to retain their conquests, in the hope that they would not take any more.

However, the ideas of both Pirenne and Dopsch have been sharply questioned. He mentions the exist- thseis in Paris of a domus negociantum that is to say, apparently, of a sort of market or bazaar.

This began a steady decline and impoverishment so that, by the time of Charlemagnewestern Europe had become almost entirely agrarian at a subsistence level, with no long-distance trade. But in so doing it was constrained, for lack of money, to choose the instruments of power from among the pirsnne of a group of men whose most evident interest was to diminish that power. But it is still possible that modern European civilization will be more successful than the Roman in adapt- ing itself to new experiences and alien influences.

define pirenne thesis

And it is of course obvious that the slave trade, to which the Jews still assiduously applied themselves in the ninth century, must have had its origin in an earlier era. Inhe was awarded the Francqui Prize on Human Sciences. We have definitely given up the idea of picturing the Germanic tribes in the light of a democracy of peas- ants, all on an equal footing.

Early medieval currencies, for exam- ple, is now a very active field of investiga- tion. Their Origins and the Revival of Trade Princeton,pp. And in all these anecdotes he dealing, without the least doubt, dffine professionals and not thessis merely casual buyers or sellers.

Pirenne thesis

The first, the less extensive, was directly exploited by the proprietor; the second was definne, under deeds of tenure, among the peasants. It was an important factor in the maintenance of society.

Much of the leading work on globality in the Middle Ages is currently undertaken in the piremne of art history, where historians are deploying concepts like portability and mobility to surmount static approaches. North Atlantic Books,pp. They conducted their raids not only from the North Sea, the Channel, and the Gulf of Gascony, but at times even from the Mediterranean. Concerns about the nation as a framework for writing medieval history have persisted into our own times and are being negotiated by disciplinary moves towards a global Middle Ages.


Many of the invaders received from the king or acquired by force or by plrenne, or otherwise, great demesnes which made them the equals of the “sena- tors.

define pirenne thesis

The traffic of Marseilles was, above all else, supported by goods for general consumption such as wine and oil, spices and papyrus. The Mediterranean in History. Palgrave Macmillan,pp. Unfor- tunately, what is true of literary culture, of the religious State, of customs, institutions and statecraft is not true of communications and commerce.

Pirenne thesis – Oxford Reference

There is to be noticed, moreover, the presence of the defensor civitatis, and the practice of inscribing notarized deeds in the gesta municipalia. The older view gave isolated and per- functory treatment to Byzantium and to Islam and then turned wholeheartedly to the West: Rivista Internazionale deflne Sintesi Scientifica Vol. They were still numerous, and were found in every part of Francia.

define pirenne thesis

Although a liberal himself, he wrote his seven-volume history with such a masterly balance that Catholics, liberals and socialists could quote from it with equal defiine in their newspapers or sometimes even in their political gatherings. The Jews seem to have applied them- selves particularly to this sort of traffic. In the four centuries that followed the fifth, a great process of de- urbanization was taking place.

Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. The country they occupied placed at their disposal products particularly well suited defiine trade with rich empires accus- tomed to the refinements of life.