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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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Foreword of the First Edition: Jean-Paul Bailly, Chairman Of La Poste Group (2004-2013)


Foreword of the First Edition

The international conference on the history of Post Offices held in Paris in June 2004 was a world premiere in its own right: it was the first learned meeting on the comparative history of the European postal networks. Under the aegis of the most important research organization in France, the CNRS, together with the most important French company with respect to the size of its employee base, La Poste Group, forty participants representing ten different nationalities presented and discussed over a period of three days a wide variety of subjects, ranging from the organization of postal networks in the 18th century to current reforms that are transforming European Post Offices, and including the darkest hours of postal history and censorship.

The richness and diversity of the material collected during this colloquium, as well as the original nature of its purpose, inspired the organizers of the event to publish the texts of all papers presented in both a French and an English edition.

The French Post Office has distinguishes itself once again by adamantly supporting historical research. The formation in 1995 of the Committee on the History of the French Post Office (le Comité pour l’histoire de La Poste – CHP), a group that brings together academicians and postal employees, has confirmed our company’s interest in acquiring a better understanding of its history. Along with the CHP, the existence of several other similar organizations also confirms this interest. The national postal...

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