By exploring the fundamental issues of property rights and markets in land, this book will offer important insights into long-term economic change in Europe. The essays gathered here provide a major consideration of the institutional constraints which can be employed by historians and other commentators in order to explain both the slowness or even absence of growth in certain areas of the European economy between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the discrete experiences of countries within Europe in this broad period. This is an issue of current interest not least because discussion of 'institutional determinism' has become a standard of explanations of historical and economic change; that said, those promoting such approach have sometimes been criticised for generalising from an 'institutional' perspective rather than taking full account of the variety of potential causative explanations within particular historical contexts. The present collection of essays will therefore explore the conditions which permitted the progress of agriculture in Europe and the emergence of capitalism in the countryside. The research presented in this volume helps to demonstrate that changes in the market (demand, relative prices...) encouraged changes in property rights but certainly did not do so in ways that were consistent or that led inexorably towards individual and exclusive rights of the kind described by the nineteenth-century liberal paradigm.
About the Author
Specialist of rural and economic history, Gerard Beaur is Directeur de Recherches at CNRS and Directeur d'Etudes at EHESS (France). He is also director of the unit of research Centre de Recherches Historiques and Chair of the action COST A35. Phillipp Schofield is Professor of Medieval History and Head of the Department of History and Welsh History, Aberystwyth University. His research interests focus on rural society in England in the high and late middle ages. Jean-Michel Chevet is a French researcher in the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique. He is a specialist in the economic history of the countryside, particularly of the development of the English and French economies and of the history of viticulture. Maria-Teresa Perez-Picazo is Professor of Economic History at the University of Murcie (Spain). Her principal work is on agrarian history and she focuses particularly on the subject of water management in the modern period.