Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Long distance....a different concept

For some folks, a 50-mile commute is routine.

For some folks, worldwide travel is a hoot, every so often.

It wasn’t always so.

Barbara Tuchman, in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, mentioned that 14th century manorial peasants might live their whole lives without venturing more than a mile from the spot where they were born.


In Pre-Industrial Societies: New Perspectives on the Past, Prof. Patricia Crone discussed the limitations on development of a market economy (trade) in those pre-industrial societies that evolved all over the world before the late 18th century advent of the Industrial Revolution. The peasants who did subsistence farming in Europe and on other continents were effectively limited to selling or bartering any meager surplus within a range of 4-5 miles from their homesteads, because it was neither practical not profitable to tote the foodstuffs beyond that range. Goods could be profitably transported to distant markets by boat (via river or sea), but peasants didn’t own boats.

It was a small world, in spirit and in fact.

Sources:
Barbara Tuchman,  A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century  (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978).

Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies: New Perspectives on the Past (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1989 repr. 1993), 23.


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