Internal Barriers to Commerce in 18th Century Europe: Exploring their Impact on Transportation and Communication
The article delves into the internal barriers that impeded commerce in Europe during the 18th century. Specifically, it explores how tolls, customs duties, and disputes between governing bodies hindered the movement of goods, people, and information. The article highlights the impact of the postal service and letter-writing, which emerged as key tools for communication during this time. Furthermore, it delves into significant treatises on population that were published during this period, with differing views on population growth and its implications for humanity.
Table of Contents
- Toll Roads, Customs Duties, and Disputes
- Rise of Turnpikes and Mail Coaches in Great Britain
- Enhancing Communication Through Postal Services
- The Rise of Letter-Writing as a Popular Activity
- Role of Postal Services in Intellectual Exchange
- Views on Population Growth in Europe
Q: What were the primary internal barriers that hindered commerce in Europe during the 18th century?
A: Toll roads and customs duties were prevalent, and the disputes between governing bodies made it challenging to ensure commercial liberty. For instance, the Habsburg Monarchy had several tolls and excise duties that impeded commerce. In addition, the absence of uniform laws meant that regions and cities within a single political entity had disputes and conflicts over commercial regulations.
Q: How was road travel in Great Britain advancing compared to the waterways?
A: Road travel in Great Britain was rapidly evolving, thanks to turnpikes and mail coaches. On the other hand, travel by water was still quite cumbersome, with barges moving at a slow pace.
Q: What role did postal services play in communication during the 18th century?
A: The development of postal services and letter writing in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries played a significant role in physical and symbolic communication. For instance, the Thurn and Taxis family’s postal service monopoly created a dense network that could transport letters all across Europe in just 24 hours. France also had a royal postal service network with over 1,320 post offices by 1763. Similarly, in England, private postal systems like William Dockwra’s and Ralph Allen’s cross-post system helped establish a national network that linked major towns with the capital.
Q: How did the increased efficiency of the postal service facilitate letter-writing?
A: The increased efficiency of the postal service meant that people could easily send and receive letters, facilitating the exchange of opinions, information, and gossip among intellectuals across Europe. Letter-writing became a popular activity, and manuals and formularies on letter-writing enjoyed heightened popularity during this period.
Q: Why was the Thurn and Taxis postal service blamed for the rise in sentimental style correspondence?
A: The Thurn and Taxis postal service’s dense network made it easier and faster for people to exchange letters, thereby facilitating sentimental style correspondence. This overly emotional style of writing letters was in contrast to the more formal and straightforward style prevalent earlier.
Q: What were the differing views on population growth among intellectuals during the period?
A: In 1798, two significant treatises on population were published: one by Joseph von Sonnenfels and the other by Thomas Malthus. Sonnenfels believed that the world’s population was declining, and a growing population promoted material comfort and physical security. Malthus, on the other hand, predicted a bleak future for humanity, citing the exponential growth of population compared to the arithmetic expansion of agriculture. He believed that this growth would eventually lead to misery and “vice” like contraception.
The article sheds light on the internal barriers that hindered commerce in Europe during the 18th century. Despite cities and regions falling under a single political entity, commercial liberty was not guaranteed, as disputes between different governing bodies led to different regulations and customs duties. It also highlights the critical role played by postal services in enhancing physical and symbolic communication during this period. The rise of letter-writing and the popularity of manuals and formularies on letter-writing illustrate the impact of these services on Europe’s cultural landscape. Finally, the differing views on population growth and its implications for humanity during the period offer an insight into the intellectual ferment of the time.