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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


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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Russian Postal Service in the 18th Century: Natalia Platonova



There were two parallel postal systems in 18th century Russia. According to sources, the first was referred to as either “German” or “foreign” and handled diplomatic correspondence as well as the private letters of Russian and foreign merchants. The second system, called jamskaja gon’ba, was older; it ensured that domestic mail was carried and delivered. The historiography of these two systems, whose tradition originated in the 19th century, established separate fields of study that trace the history of each of these postal organizations. The development of an international postal service and the routes opened to Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Holland, France, and England are well known thanks to the scholarly work of I.P. Kozlovskij, A.N. Vigilev, M.À. Fedorovič, I.P. Hruščov.1 These texts emphasize the role of foreign governments in establishing an international postal service in Russia that originated in 1665 when czar Aleksej Mihajlovič granted the exclusive privilege of carrying diplomatic mail to Riga to a Dutchman, Iohann von Sveden. He was free to choose his couriers and received a portion of the revenue from postal operations. With his death in 1667, his business was transferred, with the support of Prince A.L. Ordyn-Naščokin, to the Marselius family, of Danish origin, who developed postal exchanges with Poland via Smolensk and Vil’no and also agreed to transport merchants’ letters to Arhangel’sk in exchange for payment that guaranteed them a supplementary income. A new chapter in the history of the Russian Post began in 1675. Until then, the...

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