Professor John Munro passed away on December 23, 2013. This site is maintained and kept online as an archive. For more infomation please visit the Centre for Medieval Studies
Prof. John H. Munro
Department of Economics
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
- (1) The Economic History of Medieval and Early-Modern Europe: The Low Countries and England, 1200 - 1600
- (2) Industrial and Labour History: with a focus on Textiles (especially medieval and early modern woollen textiles)
- (3) Monetary and Financial History: Money and Prices (including Wages)
TEACHING: MY UNDERGRADUATE COURSES IN EUROPEAN ECONOMIC HISTORY: in 2009 - 2010, and beyond
This course is closely related to my own research (and publications). Its major goal is to analyse and explain four inter-related economic phenomena, so important for global economic history: (a) how western Europe, from about the thirteenth-century, caught up with and then surpassed other previously more advanced (more advanced in both economic and military power) regions in the world: namely, the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic world (from the Atlantic to the Pacific), India, and China; (b) how, by the 17th century, Europe's economic centre of gravity shifted from the Mediterranean basin to north-west Europe (at the expense of eastern Europe); (c) how, during this era, western Europe, beginning with 15th-century Portugal, embarked on and then, for many centuries, engaged in overseas (maritime) expansion, colonialism, and imperialism: i.e., in Europe's economic and military relations with Africa, Asia, and the Americas -- in effect, establishing its economic hegemony over them; and (d) how Great Britain, from the later 18th century, became the homeland of the modern Industrial Revolution.
Although the major focus is therefore on medieval western Europe, nevertheless Europe (Prussia, the eastern Baltic, Poland, Ukraine, Russia) will also be considered, in the first term. The major regional focus in the first term is Italy; in the second term, England and the Low Countries.
This course is largely theme-based and regional in scope (rather than national): and it involves the following major themes:
(1) Socio-political economic structures: feudalism, manorialism, and serfdom; the Church; town governments and urban guilds
(2) Macro-economic trends involving demography (population changes), money, prices;
(3) In each term, that will be followed by an examination of European economic development by following major sectors: agriculture, commerce, banking & finance, industry.
(4) Economic philosophies: e.g., the Church, especially the usury doctrine; bullionism and other monetary policies; the state and Mercantilism; imperialism.
This is a course on comparative economic development and comparative industrialization (and urbanization) in modern Europe from the late seventeenth century up to (but not including) World War I and the Russian Revolution (1917). Unlike my ECO 301Y course, which is basically thematic and topical in organization, this course is based on the nation state: in view of the importance of governments and state economic policies (fiscal, monetary, commercial, social, etc.) in modern European economic development. Five nation states are covered: the Dutch Republic (the Republic of the United Provinces, which became the Kingdom of the Netherlands, after 1815), Great Britain (Ireland is omitted), France, Germany, and Russia. The first term is devoted to the Dutch (chiefly by independent readings) and the English/British Industrial Revolution. The second term, completing the British story up to 1870, then examines the industrialization of France, Germany, and Russia in the nineteenth century (from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914). Within each country or nation state, our examination of economic development and industrialization will consider, first, market integration and state economic policies; then demographic developments (population growht and urbanization); and then we shall consider the changes, and the interactions of those changes, within each of the major economic sectors: agriculture, commerce (domestic and foreign trade), banking and finance, and then industrialization itself (in the mining and manufacturing industries). The course will also consider the social consequences of economic changes, especially those of 19th-century urban industrialization -- and a major essay topic (each year) is devoted to the Standard of Living Debate during the Industrial Revolution.
MY MORE GENERAL INTERESTS IN EUROPEAN ECONOMIC HISTORY
ON THE ISSUE OF MANDATORY RETIREMENT
Simply put, older professors are some of the most valuable teachers at Harvard. The faculty who choose to keep working late into their lives do so out of passion. Often they love to teach and excel at it; others stay on because their eclectic research interests still awaken curiosity even after decades of study; and for many more it is a combination of the two. For undergraduates, the chance to interact with these dynamic professors and hear first-hand about their storied careers is one of the most exciting and unique aspects of being a Harvard student. We are grateful to these professors for dedicating their lives to academia.
Post-retirement conference and festschrift given in my honour:
(1) the EH.Net review : published in Sept 2007; and
(2) Economic History Review , published in February 2008.
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