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












Culmination of century of rapid demographic growth; possible overpopulation and Malthusian Crisis; Great Famine 1315-22; crises to Black Death

Black Death (1348)

Demographic Crises and Rapid Population Decline:

100 Years War (1336-1453) and bubonic plagues

Recurrent Plagues and Demographic Stagnation or Decline in most of Europe: 100 Years War ends in 1453; some demographic recovery in Italy Demographic Stagnation with some regional recovery, in Mediterranean. Relative peace. Signs of a European Marriage Pattern? Demographic Recovery and Population Boom: Economic Recovery and Boom (with overseas expansion to Asia and Americas) Population Growth: Steeply rising food and land prices; evidences for incipient "Malthusian" crises? Population Growth peaks: Thirty Years War (1618-48) and revival of plagues:

More evidence for establishment of the European Marriage Pattern

Population Decline or Stagnation in most of Europe: more plagues; rising mortality and falling birth rates; some emigration to North America End of Plague in Western Europe (1720); nadir of demographic slump and beginnings of demographic recovery; plague in Turkish and Russian Empires

Culmination of century of rising prices and inflation; deflation from 1320s to 1340s; gold coinages adopted in northern Europe; silver ‘famines’

Post-Plague Inflation with excess money and debasements;

Silver Mining Crisis develops from 1370s; severe deflation from 1380s

Late-Medieval "Bullion Famines" and Deflation (except during peak war years); bullion outflows to Asia and East? German and Central European Silver-Copper Mining Boom (1460-1530): new gold supplies from West Africa Inflation: Beginnings of "Price Revolution."

New gold and silver supplies from Spanish America. "Great Debasement" in England (1542-52)

Severe Inflation; Flood of Silver from Peru and Mexico, peaking around 1600; monetary inflation from credit expansion and government debt Price Revolution and inflation peak; silver influx from Americas begins to decline from 1630s; more silver retained in Americas for colonial needs Steeper decline in American silver supplies; increasing outflow of silver to the Baltic and Asia. Growing deflation in Europe Deflation and price slump; larger silver outflows to Asia; Mercantilist Heyday. New gold from Brazil; Expansion in copper coin and paper credit

Rising grain and other agricultural prices, soaring during Great Famine; spread of the three-field systems; great expansion in English wool exports; a Malthusian crisis? Italy: mezzadria system

Falling grain prices from 1370s; decline of domain farming and serfdom in western Europe; agricultural innovations in Low Countries (Flanders); Italy and southern France: spread of mezzadria (métayage) Low grain prices; shift to livestock; virtual end of serfdom in the West. Productivity growth in Flemish and Dutch agriculture England: increasing enclosures in Midlands, especially for sheep-farming and wool; nadir of (real) grain prices. Expansion of Dutch livestock farming English enclosure movement reaches its peak; grain prices begin to rise; prosperity of Dutch agriculture. Signs of increasing SERFDOM in eastern Europe (Prussia, Poland, Russia). New crops from the Americas. "New Husbandry" (re)introduced into England from the Low Countries; convertible husbandry in mixed farming regions. "Rise of the Gentry" at expense of crown, church, old aristocracy. Prussian- Polish grain exports. England: More enclosures, and more for convertible husbandry; reclamation of eastern fen lands. Shift of landed power to gentry. Greater spread, intensification of serfdom in eastern Europe. Falling grain prices; greater shift to convertible husbandry and non-grain crops. Resurgence of landed aristocracy; land consolidation in large estates. Poland and Russia: more serfdom, as small farms decline. Slump in grain prices; Severe contraction in yeomanry and small farmers with growth of large estates with more livestock. More rapid spread of convertible husbandry in England.
COMMERCE: Height of Italian supremacy in European commerce and finance; European and Mediterranean warfare from 1290s disrupts commerce; decline of Champage Fairs; rise of German power in Baltic England: wool trade peaks then declines as cloth exports rise; Hanse & Italians dominant in European commerce and finance; English gains in wool & cloth trades Rise of the Dutch: gain control of herring fisheries and defeat the Hanse; develop the fluitschip; English cloth trade expansion Dutch gain control over Baltic trades; Antwerp market dominates trade and finance; final victory of English cloth trade, based on Antwerp and German silver. Portuguese overseas expansion into Afric; then India. Dutch commercial expansion; peak of Antwerp market, South German commerce and English woollen trades. Portuguese commercial exmpire in Africa, Asia, and Brazil. Spain in Americas.; silver influx from Peru Crisis in Antwerp market and English cloth trade; Revolt of the Netherlands (1568-1609) against Spain; new English overseas trading companies; rise of English shipping. Spanish expansion; Portuguese decline. Commercial expansion & commercial rivalry by Dutch and English: in Asia, Caribbean, North America; English expand commerce in Mediterranean. Decline of Italy (Venice), Spain, Portugal. Peak of Dutch commercial power; beginnings of decline. English gain dominance in Caribbean and North America. "New Colonialism" and Mercantilism Dutch still pre-eminent but more evident decline; English colonial trade from Asia and Americas expands; slave trade. Heyday of Mercantilism.

Italians introduce bill of exchange; spread of deposit banking in Italy; large gov’t loans raised in England, France

Italians spread Bill of Exchange while dominating trade and finance; English credit: develops in wool and cloth trades Italian and Flemish dominance in banking; English develop negotiable credit South Germans control over Central European silver mining gives them dominance in European banking, based on the Antwerp market Antwerp financial market peaks, then declines with South German banks; development of better negotiability at Antwerp Italians(Genoese) regain pre-eminence in European banking and finance; development of discounting in Low Countries (Antwerp) Rise of Dutch banking based on Wisselbank of Amsterdam; London Goldsmiths become leaders of English banking, with discounting Dutch financial pre-eminence; London goldsmiths develop modern banking with paper money and other credit instruments Bank of England (1694-7) becomes dominant as "bankers' bank" and develops gov't financing and capital market; organizes, monetizes national debt
INDUSTRY : Flemish/French dominance in European woollen/worsted textiles; industrial crisis in producing cheaper textiles; innovations in shipbuilding Italians challenge Flemish dominance in textiles, esp in Medit-erranen basin; rise of English & Dutch woollen cloth industries; guns and metallurgy; Expansion then stagnation in English cloth industry; more rapid decline of Flemish cloth industry Italian/Flemish industrial decay; final dominance of England's Old Draperies (woollens); introduction of blast smelters in England. Expansion of English coal and iron industries; Dutch shipbuilding dominant; spread of sayetteries (light cloths) in the Low Countries (Re)introduction of the "New Draperies" (light cloths) in England; rapid expansion of iron and coal-burning industries England's New Draperies displace Old Draperies; English iron industry reaches a peak/plateau; Dutch industrial growth "Energy crisis" in England? Relative decline of iron industry and growth of Swedish iron imports; new coal burning industries; New Draperies expand English iron industry reaches nadir; Darby succeeds with coke-smelting (1710), but no "revolution" follows; cotton-fustian industry develops in Lancashire.