Comments by Bob Corbett
June 1, 1999
I just finished reading: MEDIEVAL CITIES by Henri Pirenne. My copy is a paperback published in 1956 from the 1925 original.
This is an excellent book. In it one will find the details and defense of at least the following central theses:
These are roughly the main lines of the story. The details are utterly fascinating. It is also incredible of how slowly the changes took place. This was in some way related to the very slow growth of population. Medieval Europe didn't have many people and it took centuries for the populations to rise. But no matter what, change and development was phenomenally slow.
We see changes just skyrocket in speed from the Industrial Revolution until now, or at least it so seems.
Great book. I highly recommend it.
So what? What does it bring to my mind?
First of all just a better understanding of our development. As I began reading this book I could hardly believe that I had never really asked the questions:
Secondly, I began to look at Venice in a whole new light and would like to know more about this fascinating and odd-man-out place.
Further, I was intrigued at how the Medieval cities, at least on Pirenne's account, were similar in significant ways to the Greek city states of the classical era and gave rise to the democratic impulse that slowly developed into modern times.
Anyone else have thoughts on these or related topics?
I think this will next lead me to go back again and reread THE CANTERBURY TALES. I did this again a few years ago after reading Barbara Tuckman's book on the 14th century, A DISTANT MIRROR. I think Chaucer will mean much more to me this round than before.Bob Corbett firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Corbett email@example.com