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The Rebirth of a Communications Network: Europe at the Time of the Carolingians

The Rebirth of a Communications Network: Europe at the Time of the Carolingians



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The Rebirth of a Communications Network: Europe at the Time of the Carolingians

By Edda Claus

Master’s Thesis, Université de Montréal, 1997

Abstract: This paper attempts to explain the accelerated economic growth of medieval Europe by incorporating communications technologies in the analysis. During the reign of Charlemagne, written and spoken Latin was effectively standardized which reduced the cost of information storage relative to transmission. This development fundamentally changed the existing communication network, based on the spoken word to a network based on the written word. Whereas large parts of Western Europe had been integrated into the centralized Roman empire of Charlemagne in 800 AD, by the turn of the millennium, Europe had evolved into a decentralized system of semi-autonomous countries and duchies. The new communications networks enhanced the diffusion and eventual improvement of existing technologies, mostly related to agriculture, which contributed to Europe’s economic take-off between 1000 AD and 1300 AD.


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