Resetting the Urban Network: 117-2012
Do fixed geographic features such as coastlines and rivers determine town locations, or canhistorical events trap towns in unfavourable locations for centuries? We examine the effects ontown locations of the collapse of theWestern Roman Empire, which temporarily ended urbanizationin Britain, but not in France. As urbanization recovered, medieval towns were more oftenfound in Roman-era town locations in France than in Britain. The resetting of Britain’s urban networkgave it better access to natural navigable waterways, which mattered for town growth from1200-1800. We conclude that history trapped many French towns in suboptimal locations.
Economic Journal, 2016