Chris Wickham

Abstract

This essay replies to the various criticisms made of Framing the Early Middle Ages (2005). It concedes a number of points relating to the importance of ideologies, the distinction between élites and aristocracies, the issue of money, and the question of the importance of the productive forces. It defends the comparative method and defends the discussions of coloni and of the spatial limitations of the peasant-mode of production in Framing. It also explores the nature of the state and aristocracy in this period.

Chris Wickham

Since the 1930s, three principal models (continuity, 5th c. catastrophe and the Pirenne thesis) have been used to interpret socio-economic change in the Late Roman and Early Medieval West. With minor modifications, these models have survived with little sustained attempt to replace them. Using the examples of Tunisia, Italy and northern Gaul, this paper argues that four basic parameters of change can be identified for the period AD 400- 800. These are the occurrence of war, the level of survival of state economic infrastructures, the extent of large-scale land-ownership, and the level of structural integration into the Roman world system. Since the extent to which these four factors affect a given region varies, it is concluded that long-term economic change is dependent on structures that operate at a regional and sub-regional level.

Chris Wickham

Abstract

This article returns to the debate about the relative importance of the productive forces and the relations of production in the feudal mode of production. It argues, using western medieval evidence, that this relation is an empirical one and varies between modes, maybe also inside modes; and that, in the specific case of feudalism, not only were the relations of production the driving force, but developments in the productive forces actually depended upon them.

Chris Wickham

Abstract

Egyptian land tenure in the Fāṭimid period (969-1171) is often assumed to have been based on state ownership of agricultural land and tax-farming, as was in general the case in the Mamlūk period which followed it, and as many Islamic legal theorists rather schematically thought. This article aims to show that this was not the case; Arabic paper and parchment documents show that private landowning was normal in Egypt into the late eleventh century and later. Egypt emerges as more similar to other Mediterranean regions than is sometimes thought. The article discusses the evidence for this, and the evidence for what changed after 1100 or so, and, more tentatively, why it changed.

The Long Eighth Century

Production, Distribution and Demand

Edited by Inge Lyse Hansen and Chris Wickham

The eighth century has not been analysed as a period of economic history since the 1930s, and is ripe for a comprehensive reassessment. The twelve papers in this book range over the whole of Europe and the Mediterranean from Denmark to Palestine, covering Francia, Italy and Byzantium on the way. They examine regional economies and associated political structures, that is to say the whole network of production, exchange, and social relations in each area. They offer both authoritative overviews of current work and new and original work. As a whole, they show how the eighth century was the first century when the post-Roman world can clearly be seen to have emerged, in the regional economies of each part of Europe.