1.8 Revival

Towns had simply disappeared along with the post Roman economy by 500. But slowly by 600 there’s tiny shoots of recovery discernible – so we talk about towns. And we have a hack at something a little tiny bit more literary, and talk of Continental Missionaries.

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Revival of Towns

7-8th-century-and-townsFrom 600 there are signs that trade revives, and then from the 607’s there’s clear evidence of trading sites, which could be seasonal, called Emporia. Through the 8th Century, these develop into proper towns -at Ipswich, London, York and Southampton.

A bit of Literary stuff

For a bit of fun go and and see this article about some of the weirder Rabbits vs Dogsillustrations in medieval manuscripts. Stuff that make Terry Gilliam look normal.

Old English poetry

Beowulf filled me with boredom at school; now I confess to see the appeal! Not just the story – the insight it gives into the minds and lives the 8th century AS hall. So give it a go. There’s a  link to the opening lines in Old English, and here’s a link to Seamus Heaney reciting his famous translation

And then, less famous, is Caedmon and his prayer – a nice example of Christian themes with a hint of heroic poetry .

7 thoughts on “1.8 Revival

  1. I’ve just finished listening to David Graeber’s “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” on Audible, which I can highly recommend (though it’s bit of a Weighty Tome, length wise). One of the things he consistently takes aim at is what he calls “the myth of barter” – i.e., to put it in the language of this spisodes, trying to pay for stuff with pig and so on. He mentions the same sources recording the tallying up of money in shillings etc. that you do, but decouples it firmly from the existance of coinage, or bullion: the evidence, according to Graeber, shows that people were using virtual currency as a system of value & record-keeping, but actual transactions were rarely made in coins, & were certainly not made in the kind of simple barter that we’ve been used to thinking about – exchanging camels for shoes or whatever. To me, this makes sense: after all, just because *we* don’t take gold to the market, but use virtual money, future historians won’t be remotely justified in calling our time an age of “reverting to barter”. It complicates the popular economic history of the early Middle Ages as a time of withdrawal & regression, but it has the virtue of dispelling the rather idiotic idea (once you think about it) that just because the Romans were gone, people in Western Europe suddenly became too stupid to use their well established credit & currency systems.

  2. Hi David, I have heard your request for a guest episode and am very keen, probably on Northumbria or the Northumbrian Renaissance. However I am bogged down in my finals at university. Would waiting until June/July be OK. Feel free to email me in response. Love the podcast!

  3. Marina, sound like a good read; I must try and catch up with it. I am clearly not qualified, but I wonder if it depended on the situation a bit. Certainly I agree that the idea of paying for something in the market with a pig or pigs is absurd (which is partly why I used it!); but equally I figure that tributes and taxes very probably were paid for in kind or in goods – hence the existence of tribute centres. Whereas I agree, folks must have used some sort of credit system to manage daily purchases – anything else would have been hideously complex. Anyway, thanks for the comment – sounds like a book I need to read!

  4. Hi Liz..and that’s jolly good news! It would be good to get some class into this podcast!
    I’ll drop you an email; the offer remains open anytime. and Meanwhile, good luck with the Finals. Don’t get too stressed out, it’s only the rest of your life.
    (Just a joke btw. it really isn’t. It’ll be fine.)

  5. I have been waiting patiently for your groveling, but to no avail. This affront to my dignity shall only be forgotten on account of this being a very good episode, vellum production and all.
    BTW, if we’re talking guest episodes, would you be interested in one about Francia and the similarities and differences between its developments and those of Anglo-Saxon England?

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