Transferring Technical Knowledge and Innovating in Europe, c.1200-c.1800
By Stephen Epstein
XIV International Economic History Congress (2006)
Introduction: The role of technology in the transition from premodern, ‘Malthusian’ to modern economies in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe is among the major questions in economic history, but it is still poorly understood. In particular, the view that technological change before c.1800 was close to zero due to poorly specified property rights to knowledge and pervasive rent seeking by guilds is hard to square with the fact that the surge of technological innovation in the eighteenth century occurred within institutional frameworks not too dissimilar to those of 1300.