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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History

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Edited By 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 18 th 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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Tuscan Postmasters in the 18th Century: Cristina Badon

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Cristina BADON

The Hapsburg-Lorraine dynasty reorganized the management and administration of the Tuscan postal services by means of a series of legislative provisions, such as the general laws of May 14, 1746 and 1762 which established the monopoly on the transport of correspondence and passengers and 1782 which ceded the property and management of the sector to the General Department of Postal Services.1 In particular, the aforementioned laws provided for a monopoly on the change of postmasters at the postal stations, by which an attempt was made to end the competition between the postmasters, publicans, and innkeepers. This provision would have consequences for the mechanism of the entire transportation structure for the rest of the century. As the years progressed, the post-horse system would receive little modernization or, what little it did receive, would be adopted with considerable slowness. By the end of the century, such politics would lead consequently to lesser and lesser earnings for the postmasters (this is also pointed out by Pietro Leopoldo in his Relazioni). In fact, in the next century, after the confirmation of the system of monopolies in 1814, protests and unrest over the system of mail transportation became increasingly more incisive. On December 19, 1827 the 18th century provision would be abolished as it was recognized as the main obstacle to real development in communications, with the motivation that “to promote the activity of individual industries improves public convenience.”2 The new provision would regulate the postal system up until the...

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