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Rye and Oats: The Agrarian Revolution of the Early Middle Ages

Rye and Oats: The Agrarian Revolution of the Early Middle Ages

Chapter:
(p.1) One Rye and Oats: The Agrarian Revolution of the Early Middle Ages
Source:
Why Europe
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226532387.003.0001

This chapter analyzes the European agrarian revolution, the characteristic features of which were not apparent in every location where rye or oats were grown in early medieval Europe, as demonstrated by the contrasting examples of Russia and Ireland. Even the joint appearance on the scene of the two crops in question, which can be traced back to Roman times and earlier, did not exhibit every single one of the revolution's defining features, either at the time or afterward. The “concatenation of circumstances” that constitutes the phenomenon of the European agrarian revolution stretches far beyond the combination of rye and oats, two new domesticated crops that receive priority in the total ensemble of agrarian innovations because they were the first to appear. Moreover, subsequent key effects and connections can be traced back to them.

Keywords:   medieval Europe, agrarian revolution, Russia, Ireland, agrarian innovation, crops

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