Publisher’s presentation :
Few historical issues have occasioned such discussion since at least the time of Marx as the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Western Europe. The Brenner Debate, which reprints from Past and Present various article in 1976, is a scholarly presentation of a variety of points of view, covering a very wide range in time, place and type of approach. Weighty theoretical responses to Brenner’s first formulation followed from the late Sir Michael Postan, John Hatcher, Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie and Guy Bois; more particular contributions came from Patricia Croot, David Parker, Arnost Klìma and Heide Wunder on England, France, Bohemia and Germany; and reflective pieces from R. H. Hilton and the late J. P. Cooper. Completing the volume, and giving it an overall coherence, are Brenner’s own comprehensive response to those who had taken part in the debate, and also R. H. Hilton’s introduction that aims to bring together the major themes in the collection of essays. The debate has already aroused widespread interest among historians and scholars in allied fields as well as among ordinary readers, and may reasonably be regarded as one of the most important historical debates of recent years.
The Brenner debale, as it has come to be called, may justifiably lay claim to being one of the most important historical debates of recent years, and goes back, in one form or another, to at least the time of Marx. In general terms, it bears witness to the continuing interest among historians and scholars in allied fields in the epoch-making theme of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. More specifically, it maintains the tradition of Past and Present in fostering and stimulating discussion and debate on the fundamental issues of tbe past of which Crisis in Europe, 1560-1660 (published by Routledge and Kegan Paul in 1965) was the first and perhaps the most catalytic. The debate now reprinted from the journal has been long in the making, from Robert Brenner’s original article, published in Past and Present in 1976 but stemming from an earlier version given as a paper to the social science seminar of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in April 1974, until his response published in 1982. Regrettably two of the contributors, Professor Sir Michael Postan and Mr J. P. Cooper, died before the debate was concluded, but their contributions stand as outstanding examples of their own different but equally stimulating approaches to the question. Doubtless they and some of the other authors would now put their points in slightly different form, but it was decided, if only to preserve the structure of the debate, that the essays should be reprinted as they originally appeared in the journal, save only for minor corrections and alterations.
The debate has already aroused a most widespread interest among academics in many fields, as well as among ordinary readers, whether they are concerned with social, economic or demographic history, with the medieval or early modem periods, or whether their interests are directed to England, France or other countries of westem and central Europe; it has also had a most welcome readership among sociologists, historians of ideas, historiographers and students of peasant societies and indeed of western civilization as a whole. But it cannot aspire to be definitive and we would not wish it to be seen in that light. Rather it is our hope and belief that it will advance discussion of the great issue with which it is concerned in a most material way and that it will be essential reading for all historians and scholars in allied fields whatever the period with which they are specifically concerned.
We are most graleful to all those at the Cambridge University Press who have assisted in the preparation of the volume. and especially to Mrs Fiona Barr for kindly compiling the index.
T.H.A. / C.H.E.P.
Introduction - R. H. HILTON
1. Agrarian Oass Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industriai Europe - ROBERT BRENNER
2. Population and Class Relations in Feudal Society - M. M. POSTAN and JOHN HATCHER
3. Agrarian Class Structure and the Development of Capitalism: France and England Compared - PATRICIA CROOT and DAVID PARKER
4. Peasant Organization and Class Conflict in Eastern and Western Gennany - HEIDE WUNDER
5. A Reply to Robert Brenner - EMMANUEL LE ROY LADURlE
6. Against the Neo-Malthusian Orthodoxy - GUY BOIS
7. A Crisis of Feudalism - R. H. HILTON
8. In Search of Agrarian Capitalism - J. P. COOPER
9. Agrarian Qass Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Bohemia - ARNOST KLlMA
10. The Agrarian Roots of European Capitalism - ROBERT BRENNER
Cambridge University Press, publication date: March 1987
352 pages / 21,6 x 13,8cm / 26 euros
See Also :
— MEIKSINS WOOD Ellen, L’origine du capitalisme