The Agrarian East

Edgar Melton

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, 1350-1750

Published in print July 2015 | ISBN: 9780199597253
Published online March 2015 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Agrarian East

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This chapter deals with the vast territories east of the Elbe river, including Poland–Lithuania, the Czech lands, Brandenburg–Prussia, and Russia. There are two primary and interlocking themes, first the westernization of these lands, secondly, the origins and development of the ‘second serfdom’ in the agrarian East. Westernization of the agrarian East came largely through the introduction and expansion of the ‘Frankish agrarian system’, which began around 1200 with Western colonization east of the Elbe. Westernization was essentially a repetition of basic agrarian developments that had already taken place in much of north-west Europe in the period 600–1000 AD. One of the most important of these developments was manorialism, and the so-called ‘second serfdom’ in Eastern Europe was thus not a deviation from westernization, but rather an integral part of it.

Keywords: Agrarian history of Eastern Europe; Western settlement of Eastern Europe; medieval archeology of Eastern Europe; backwardness of Eastern Europe; manorialism in medieval West; manorialism in Eastern Europe; westernization of Eastern Europe

Article.  12670 words. 

Subjects: History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; European History ; Industrial History

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