The Roots of Europe’s Population. Demography, Workforce, and Family in Early Medieval Provence (AD 813-814)

Irene Barbiera , University of padova
Maria Castiglioni, Università di Padova
Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, University of Padova

This paper aims at contributing to the understanding of ancient European population trends, for which very little is known. Staring from the analytical study of a particularly ancient source, an inventory of peasants working for the Abbey of Saint Victor in Marseille in the Provence region of Southern France compiled in 813-814, the data discussed in this paper offer several important insights into early medieval demographic dynamics. In particular, we reconstruct the age structure of the population from which we can infer mortality trends. Very interestingly, these resemble closely the standard life tables for Southern Europe suggested by Woods for ancient European populations (2007), suggesting different dynamics than those found in modern Europe. We also reconstruct the marriage system and fertility regime of the investigated population, which is close to that observed in other medieval populations, supporting the hypothesis of a high pressure demographic regime. We finally analyse also the way the work force was settled and exploited in the region to better clarify the relationship between population, environment and production.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course