Pub. Date:
Cambridge University Press
An Economic and Social History of Later Medieval Europe, 1000-1500

An Economic and Social History of Later Medieval Europe, 1000-1500

by Steven A. EpsteinSteven A. Epstein
Current price is , Original price is $38.99. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


This book examines the most important themes in European social and economic history from the beginning of growth around the year 1000 to the first wave of global exchange in the 1490s. These five hundred years witnessed the rise of economic systems, such as capitalism, and the social theories that would have a profound influence on the rest of the world over the next five centuries. The basic story, the human search for food, clothing, and shelter in a world of violence and scarcity, is a familiar one, and the work and daily routines of ordinary women and men are the focus of this volume.

Surveying the full extent of Europe, from east to west and north to south, Steven A. Epstein illuminates family life, economic and social thought, war, technologies, and other major themes while giving equal attention to developments in trade, crafts, and agriculture. The great waves of famine and then plague in the fourteenth century provide the centerpiece of a book that seeks to explain the causes of Europe's uneven prosperity and its response to catastrophic levels of death. Epstein also sets social and economic developments within the context of the Christian culture and values that were common across Europe and that were the cause of constant tension with Muslims, Jews, and dissidents within its boundaries and the great Islamic and Tartar states on its frontier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521706537
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 04/27/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 549,135
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Steven A. Epstein is Ahmanson-Murphy Distinguished Professor of Medieval History at the University of Kansas. He is the author of numerous articles and five books on aspects of medieval social and economic history, including Genoa and the Genoese, 958�528 and Purity Lost: Transgressing Boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1000�400.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations page vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1 Europe at the Millennium 10

2 Agriculture and Rural Life 40

3 Trade 1000-1350 70

4 Cities, Guilds, and Political Economy 100

5 Economic and Social Thought 129

6 The Great Hunger and the Big Death: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century 159

7 Technology and Consumerism 190

8 War and Social Unrest 223

9 Fifteenth-Century Portraits 250

Index 283

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The clarity and precision of Steven Epstein’s survey of the history of the later medieval economy are without doubt two of its most wonderful features. Students and seasoned scholars alike will actually relish reading the book. Moreover, in substance it is not limited, as many so-called surveys are, to a portrait of peasant production, market towns, business techniques, and trade, although there are excellent pages on all these topics. Epstein never forgets that there are essential cultural contexts for the economic developments he traces. His setting out of these contexts is as lucid and informative as his writing on the economy per se. This book is synthesis of a very high order." -William Chester Jordan Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University Author of The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century (Princeton, 1996)

"This social and economic history of medieval Europe has a geographic framework that stretches from Iceland to Eastern Europe, from the western Mediterranean to Byzantium and the Middle East. Muslims and Jews figure in the focus on a big Europe. Economic concepts – transaction costs, value-added commodities, sticky salaries, regressive taxes, etc. – are introduced in layman’s terms, accessible to students and scholars alike. The book provides revisionist views of agriculture and trade and new emphases on technology, consumption, and Europe’s penchant for a “culture of knowledge, valuing improvement.” The Big Death replaces the Black Death with re-evaluation of 14th- and 15th-century epidemics. The 15th century, enlivened through vignettes on the Florentine catasto of 1427, Francesco di Marco Datini, Jacques Coeur, the Pastons, the accounting of Luca Pacioli, the debate over the economic depression of the Renaissance, and Columbus’s voyages, closes a text that will stimulate reflection and engage readers." -Kathryn Reyerson, University of Minnesota

"This is a masterful book that brings together the most recent research on economic and social history in a sophisticated yet accessible manner. The topics range broadly, from the holy greyhound to game theory, to trade and agriculture, technology and innovation, guilds and public finance, climate and economic thought, religion, social unrest and warfare—to name but a few. Epstein includes comparative material on Islam and Judaism and traces developments to all of Europe, north and south, east and west. The book is a tour de force, whose modest tone will obscure (intentionally) to the casual reader and undergraduate student its striking originality. Epstein consistently offers unique juxtapositions of information and possesses such command of complex current economic theory that he is able to incorporate it effortless into his discussion of medieval event. This is a superb work of scholarship and exciting new source for teaching." -William Caferro, Vanderbilt University

Customer Reviews