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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


Muriel Le Roux and Sébastien Richez

The cursus publicus, established by the Roman Empire to connect all its conquered territories, may be considered to be the ancestor of all modern post offices. Therefore, mail service networks are part of an organization, dating from Antiquity, which is common to the entire European community.
From the 18th century onwards, the French mail service network may be divided into three successive phases. First, the consolidation of the transportation system that was being set up. Second, the development of the system’s ability to deal with increasing traffic (through broader human resources). Thirdly, the diversification of its operations and the development of its technical modernisation.
What was the situation in other European countries? Are there similarities and differences in how their networks were set up and organized? Finally, how did European Post Offices cooperate with each other in spite of their differences?
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About the Author


Muriel Le Roux is a senior researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. Having been at the Maison Française d’Oxford (UK), she is based at the Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (CNRS – ENS – Paris 1). A specialist in the history of science, technology and business, she has been in charge of research programmes for the Committee for the History of the Post Office (CHP) for many years.

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