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Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories

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  • Remi Jedwab

    (George Washington University)

  • Noel D. Johnson

    (George Mason University)

  • Mark Koyama

    (George Mason University)

Abstract

We draw on theories and empirical findings from urban economics to explore and explain patterns of city growth in the Middle Ages (c. 800-1500 CE). We discuss how agricultural development and physical geography determined the location and size of cities during the medieval period. We also consider the relative importance of economies of scale, agglomeration, and human capital spillovers in medieval cities and discuss how their growth was limited by disamenities and constraints on mobility. We discuss how medieval cities responded to shocks such as the Black Death and describe how institutions became increasingly important in determining their trajectories. Avenues for future research are also laid out.

Suggested Citation

  • Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2020. "Medieval Cities Through the Lens of Urban Economic Theories," Working Papers 2020-9, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:gwi:wpaper:2020-9
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    Cited by:

    1. Melanie Krause & André Seidel, 2020. "Land Scarcity and Urban Density within Cities," CESifo Working Paper Series 8660, CESifo.
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    3. Katarzyna Łakomy, 2021. "Site-Specific Determinants and Remains of Medieval City Fortifications as the Potential for Creating Urban Greenery Systems Based on the Example of Historical Towns of the Opole Voivodeship," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(13), pages 1-25, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Medieval Era; City Growth; Urbanization; Food Surplus Hypothesis; Agglomeration Effects; Labor Mobility; Pandemics; Institutions; Europe; Asia;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R19 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Other
    • N9 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History
    • N93 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East

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