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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Conference Papers and Proceedings
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Author(s): Oram, Richard
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Title: Breaking New Ground: the Monastic Orders and Economic Development along the Northern European Periphery c.1070 to c.1300
Editor(s): Ammannati, F
Citation: Oram R (2012) Breaking New Ground: the Monastic Orders and Economic Development along the Northern European Periphery c.1070 to c.1300 In: Ammannati F (ed.) Religion and religious institutions in the European economy, 1000-1800 (Religione e istituzioni religiose nell'economia europea, 1000-1800): atti della "Quarantatreesima Settimana di Studi", 8-12 maggio 2011, Florence, Italy: Firenze University Press. Religione e istituzioni religiose nell'economia europea. 1000-1800 - Religion and Religious Institutions in the European Economy. 1000-1800, 8.5.2011 - 12.5.2011, Florence, Italy, pp. 331-344.
Issue Date: 2012
Series/Report no.: Serie II, Atti delle Settimane di Studio e altri Convegni, 43
Conference Name: Religione e istituzioni religiose nell'economia europea. 1000-1800 - Religion and Religious Institutions in the European Economy. 1000-1800
Conference Dates: 2011-05-08T00:00:00Z
Conference Location: Florence, Italy
Abstract: Since Robert Fossier's critique of the traditional image of the Cistercians as pioneering agriculturalists and economic developers in the north-east European plain there has been a general historiographical trend towards rejection of any significant role on the part of the monastic orders as economic innovators throughout northern and western Europe generally. Rather than pioneers, they have been presented as inheritors of exisiting exploitative regimes, their role one of refinement and intensification but rarely of ground-breaking development. Gorecki's work on the Cistercians in Poland in particular has exposed the extent of the conscious manipulation of foundation traditions almost to remove any record of pre-existing populations and economic activity within the territory controlled by the monastery and thereby to enhance the image of the first generation of monastic colonists as pioneers toiling in a barren wilderness, converting waste to fruitful productivity. While this new historiographical model fits comfortably with the evidence from parts of France, Germany, Poland and southern mainland Britain, it sits less easily with the experience across a broad arc of the European periphery from Ireland to the eastern Baltic where economic systems that had been developed in western mainland Europe were implanted with varying degrees of success into areas of radically different cultural tradition and physical environment. This paper aims to offer a reassessment of the monastic impact on the economic development of this extended region through the era of monastic expansion and economic growth from the late 11th to late 13th century. The paper will focus on monasteries from four main orders (Benedictine and Cistercians monks, Augustinian and Premonstratensian canons) in south-east Ireland, north-west England and eastern Scotland, areas of contrasting climate, environment and geomorphology, and diverse socio-cultural background, and compare the insular experience to that of southern and western Scandinavia and Poland-Lithuania, setting both against the broader context of Robert Fossier and Constance Berman's models. It will examine the pre-monastic economic structures of the study regions, the strategies of the different communities in adapting to the particular circumstances of their local environments, and the consequences of decisions taken concerning modes of resource exploitation. In so doing, it will permit detailed consideration of the impact of the monastic colonists on the economic development of the regions into which they were being implanted and the ways in which they had influences upon and were influenced by the emerging economic structures. One central theme of the study will be the integration of monastic economies into wider regional, national and international trade networks and the role of the monastic orders in the establishment of monetised, market-based economies within the study area. It will consider especially their part in the rapid expansion of urbanisation within their locales and the part played in stimulating inter-regional trade through their requirement for particular commodities linked to liturgical, dietary and general cultural dictates.
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