Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspective

Traditional Dutch buildings with a canal in the foreground.

Prinsengracht, Amsterdam: The commercial capital of the 17th century. (Photo by Prof. Anne McCants.)


MIT Course Number

21H.134J / 14.70J

As Taught In

Spring 2012



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course will survey the conditions of material life and changing social and economic conditions in medieval Europe with reference to the comparative context of contemporary Islamic, Chinese, and central Asian experiences. Subject covers the emergence and decline of feudal institutions, the transformation of peasant agriculture, living standards and the course of epidemic disease, and the ebb and flow of long-distance trade across the Eurasian system. Particular emphasis will be placed on the study of those factors, both institutional and technological, which have contributed to the emergence of capitalist organization and economic growth in Western Europe in contrast to the trajectories followed by the other major medieval economies.

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Anne McCants. 21H.134J Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspective. Spring 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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