Christian Skovsgaard, University of Southern Denmark

"The Heavy Plough and the European Agricultural Revolution of the Middle Ages"


This paper offers a rigorous quantitative evaluation of Lynn White’s hypothesis that the introduction and diffusion of the heavy plough was a source of population growth and urbanization in Europe in the Middle Ages. The work of White and other historians suggest that the heavy plough would be more suitable on heavy, clay soils and that its widespread adoption happened from 1000 AD onwards. Consistent with this, we find that regions with high shares of heavy plough suitable land had significantly higher population density and more cities (relative to area) after 1000 AD.

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