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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the two principal ways in which ‘communications’ in early modern Europe have been interpreted. It first looks at the traditional road and river system, shown to be as much an obstacle to as a means of travel, and discusses the limited improvements between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. The shortcomings of the infrastructure, however, did not prevent extensive travelling at all social levels, sometimes over extremely long distances. It then examines the creation of an efficient postal system during the sixteenth century, which facilitated the transmission of news and subsequently people too. Above all, this network provided the foundation of the printed newspapers, which began to appear during the seventeenth century and would eventually transform communications completely. Nevertheless, the oral transmission of news and information remained vital until the very end of the ancien régime and far beyond, in towns as in the countryside.

Keywords: Canals, communications, handwritten newsletters, oral communications, newspapers, postal system, roads, rivers, travel

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