Globalization and the European economy: Medieval origins to the Industrial Revolution

Findlay, Ronald E.

Any consideration of "The Europeanization of the Globe and the Globalization of Europe" must confront the problem of how to specify the spatio-temporal coordinates of the concept of Europe. When does "Europe" begin as a meaningful cultural, social and political expression and how far east from the shores of the Atlantic and the North Sea does it extend? In this paper I will begin with Charlemagne, which is to say around 800. It is at about this time that that the designations of Europe and European first begin to be used. Denys Hay (1966:25) cites an eighth-century Spanish chronicler who refers to the forces of Charles Martel, Charlemagne's grandfather, at the celebrated Battle of Poitiers in 732 as Europeenses or Europeans, rather than as Christians, and their opponents as Arabs, rather than as Muslims, a nice example of ethnic as opposed to religious identification of "ourselves" and "the other." In terms of space I will go not too much further east than the limits of the Carolingian Empire at its peak, which is conveniently depicted in the map provided by Jacques Boussard (1976:40-41). In this map it is remarkable to see how closely the empire coincides with the area covered by the "Inner Six" of the European Common Market, with the addition of Austria and Hungary. To the west the Iberian Peninsula was largely under Muslim control, with the British Isles under the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and their "Celtic Fringe". Scandinavia in the north was still pagan as was Germany east of the Elbe, while southern Italy was largely under Byzantine or Muslim rule. Thus for the purposes of this paper I shall take "Europe" to be the sum of all these territories i.e. what is conventionally regarded today as Western Europe. This is purely for analytical convenience and should not be taken to imply any sinister desire to exclude peoples and nations further to the east on historical and cultural grounds from belonging to Europe. The paper will concentrate on Europe's contacts and trading relations with other parts of the world and their reciprocal impacts upon each other, in keeping with the themes of "Europeanization" and "Globalization". As the reader of this volume will note I will be using the latter term much more broadly and loosely, in the spirit of Humpty Dumpty, than David Sylvan would like us to do in his contribution. Concentrating on the external relations of this entity "Europe" with other economic and cultural units does not imply that I regard purely internal developments as necessarily any less significant in the overall evolution of the European economy.

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Academic Units
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 0102-28
Published Here
March 22, 2011


March 2002