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date: 05 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides some of the general points focusing on three topics: exchange and trade; the pace and character of urbanization; and the inter-relationship between urban centres. Interpreting the early medieval economy as highly monetized presupposes that trading had penetrated most of society, but there is little independent evidence for this. In the eighth and ninth centuries, the urban character of the country was determined by the emporia, which were served by high-status sites, both secular and religious, which acted as collection centres for the onward transport of agricultural surpluses, giving a basic two-part core exchange structure. It is important to investigate discontinuities in the urbanization process, and not always assume that the urban network came into being relatively early and remained fixed for most of the Middle Ages.

Keywords: exchange, trade, urbanization, urban centres, emporia, agricultural surpluses

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