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Middle Ages

The Great Public Schools of England

  It should be mentioned at the outset that by the “Great Public Schools” are meant those open only to the members of the Public who have long purses or long pedigrees. They are institutions peculiar to England, where the sons of the propertied-class are taught to play games well, and to despise both healthy labour and those who are foolish enough to provide them with free education and free maintenance, while refusing to claim the same for their own children.

Book Review: 'Montaillou - Cathars and Catholics in a French Village, 1294-1324'

A reconstruction

'Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324', by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Penguin Books.

It is the turn of the 14th century; a small French village high in the mountains continues a tradition of life that has been rolling on for as long as anyone knows. There is a closely knit community of priests, minor nobility and peasantry, the latter free from the worst restrictions of feudal servility. Most peasants live as farmers, the poorer members being either shepherds (the men) or servants (the women). They are connected to, yet also cut off from, the mainstream of French social life.

Notes on Economic History (2)

The Mercantile System

This was the beginning of the modern era. A new form of economic practice was developing, and new theories made their appearance in the form known as Mercantilism. This term (introduced by Adam Smith) is, however, a little misleading for its advocates were quite as concerned with industrial development as with the exchange of merchandise.

The term "Mercantile system" is loosely used to denote all the principles applied by the governments and traders of those days—though it is a fact that these principles have a general conformity. Mercantilism was a growth of its time. It was a system of political absolutism and centralization in favour of the burghers and mobile capital, to the detriment of the lords of the soil. To throw light on this we must glance at the economic process of this period.

Notes on Economic History (1)

Economics before Mercantilism

The object of these notes is to provide a general introductory guide for those who would like to know more about the subject of Political Economy. They cover the period from early times to Marx and set out the main developments and theories that arose during that time, using as a key the Materialist Conception of History.

Engels in his preface to the 1888 edition of the Communist Manifesto says: "The 'manifesto' being our joint production, I consider myself bound to state that the fundamental proposition which forms its nucleus belongs to Marx. That proposition is: that in every historical epoch the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organisation necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch."

That proposition is, in short, the Materialist Conception of History.

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