But the roots of that tree, if exposed to the light of history, may not appear so attractive as the latest faded flow- ers of Greek and Roman culture. There was a trade slaves, food-stuffs and raw materials n throughout the Mediterranean basin, ex- C. No indication yet gave warning of the end of that com- monwealth of civilization created by the Empire from the Pillars of Hercules to the Aegean Sea, from the coasts of Egypt and Africa to the shores of Gaul, Italy and Spain. The Cambridge Medieval History 8 v. More certainly still this had already been the case under the Roman Empire. Any text you add should be original, not copied from other sources. This is made plain enough by the many contrasts between the Merovingian era, during which the Mediterranean retained its time-honored historical importance, and the Carolingian era, when that influence ceased to make itself felt.

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. Public buildings and aqueducts still remain to prove the existence of applied sciences of which barbarians are ignorant. Less obvious, but more impor- tant than the great changes in political and ecclesiastical institutions, was the change in the system of production and distribution. The barbar- ians felt at once the effect of these two strong centers of attraction. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. This may have been the basis of the idea of romantic his- torians that loyalty and honour were bar- barian virtues. As the Empire grew old this fundamen- tally maritime character was, interestingly enough, not only preserved but was still more sharply defined.

The German officer questioning Pirenne asked why he insisted on answering in French when it was known that Pirenne spoke excellent German and had done postgraduate studies at Leipzig and Berlin. The sale of slaves, despite the prohibitions that were laid down by the sovereigns, was carried on along the western frontiers, where the prisoners of war taken from among the pagan Slavs found numerous purchasers.


Pirenne thesis

It included, geographically, definittion coun- tries now known as France, England, Ire- land and southern Scotland, western Ger- many, central and northern Italy and northern Spain. The familiar and almost “family” sea which once united all the parts of this commonwealth was to become a barrier between them.

Their defonition institutions did not sud- denly disappear upon the arrival of the Germanic tribes. The capitularies, those regulations touching upon every phase of social life, are remarkably meagre in so far as applies to commerce. Rostovtseff was already well known as a classicist at St. The economic development of Marseilles naturally made itself felt in the hinterland of the port.

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He mentions the exist- ence in Paris of a domus negociantum that is to say, apparently, of a sort of market or bazaar. From toPirenne was a professor at the University of Ghent, where he served as rector from to He shows the king consenting to a loan to the merchants of Verdun, whose business prospers so well that they soon find themselves in a position to reimburse him.

There was no other property than landed property, and no other work than rural work. It seems, in fact, that as early as the start of the Carolingian period only a very small number of them still existed in Gaul. In every respect it seems, then, to have accurately preserved, under the government of the Prankish kings, the clearly municipal character of Roman cities.


From that time Europe was “the West” not merely a different place but a different spirit. In the affairs of the State, which was now cut off from the Mediterranean, southerners played scarcely any role.

Pirenne’s Histoire de Belgique 7 vol. Thus, even when the barbarians had en- tered into territories hitherto Roman, they preserved the pleasures of the chase and their belief in the magic of woods and sacred places. The expedition in Spain had no other definitioj than the establishing of a solid frontier against the Moslems, To be sure, the transition from one era to the other was not clear-cut. What is known is that Pirenne was questioned by German occupiers on 18 Marchand subsequently arrested.


As the Empire grew old this fundamen- tally maritime character was, interestingly enough, not only pirennw but was still more sharply defined. The ports of Quentovic a place now vanished, near Etaples in the Department of Pas-de-Calais and Duurstede on the Rhine, southwest of Utrecht which under the Merovingian monarchy were already trading with England and Denmark, seem to have been centers of a widely extended shipping.

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.

Furthermore, Belgium lies athwart the great linguistic divide between French and Dutch. The Vikings later also made sea trade difficult.

pirenne thesis definition

Accordingly, he viewed the pirdnne relations of the medieval city as more modern than they had actually been. There alone she gave evidence of an organization and spirit ca- pable of initiating great enterprises.

A brilliant contribution was made by Henri Pirenne, who put forth the view that the Moslems, not the Germans, destroyed the Lirenne world. He returned home and took up his life. Care should of course be taken not to exaggerate its value.

But it must not be overlooked, on the other hand, that these cities in themselves long retained a considerable importance. His “Merchant Enterprise School” opposed Marxism but shared many of Marx’s ideas on the merchant class.

Since the ecclesiastical organiza- tion suffered no change during the era of the Germanic invasions, the result was that in the new kingdoms founded by the con- querors it preserved intact this characteristic feature.

pirenne thesis definition

And therefore even in civilized communities the simplicity of bar- barism has an attraction for minds weak- ened by personal distress or confused by social unrest, as it had for the Cynics in ancient Greece and the hermits of the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era.

My own belief is that the unity of the Mediterranean world was broken by the pirate fleet of Vandal Carthage and that the shattered unity was never restored.

Compared to the number of texts which have been preserved from that era, these references are extremely rare.