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MDSA02 ch 3 - MAIL.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Ted Petit

MDSA02: Chapter 3 – Mail Ancient Posts  Msgs went out in a hundred disorgasnized oral and written ways over the centuries  The mail of the carrier followed two trails, the path of the govnt and the path of the private citizen and the merchant (govnt still keeps separate channels)  Postal service is the handmaiden of central govt, essential to retaining power o Kings knew if they wanted to control their land, they had to control communication  In china until recent centuries, postal service was used by the govnt only and merchants (japan – th only govt until 17 c)  The new world had no horses until European invaders introduced them, so Aztecs, incase and mayas employed relay stations of human runners  The first record of a written msg stamped w/ a seal and delivered by courier dates to King Sargon of Babylon about 2300 BCE  Egyptians had a relay system that helped maintain central control of their empire; an ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll carries the request “write to me by the letter carrier”  In rd c BCE, Ptolemy II introduced the camel into Egypt and organized camel post to carry govnt and commercial msgs to the South  They built roads and established pony colony express relay stations throughout the empire – to interfere w. mail delivery was punishable by death  In Homers day communication was by messenger or by signal fires from mountain top to mountain top  Most famous Greek msnger Pheidippides ran so hard to report the victory of Marathon that he collapsed and died uttering the msg “nike” (victory) The Romans  The large Roman postal system stretched across empire from Egypt to Britain  It was so fast that no postal organization matched its speed for nearly 1900 yrs o 1 reason – famous roman roads to improve mails, established relay stations w/ post houses that dwellers maintained o It also organized the world’s first sea post  By the 4 c, the emperor Diocletian placed the roman postal system under an imperial secret service that included officials called “curiosi”= duties included spying and catching mail fraud  Ordinary citizens devised their own means of long distance communication, but contact remained sparse bw rome and the aristocrats who preferred to live on their country estates  Over short distances, servants (usually slaves) would carry letters hw it was dangerous bc they could be killed if his masters enemies caught him, but if he failed to deliver the letters promptly his master might slay him  When the roman empire collapsed, so did the postal system roads were no longer safe for post riders Medieval Postal Service  Charlemagne, the first of the holy emperors - he restored the glory of Rome under the mantle of Christianity  He also restored the postal system by using old, deteriorating roman roads (postal routes were established) th  By the 12 c, monasteries established regular links w/ their distant brethren – they would report monastic events on a parchment scroll  Craft and merchant guilds set up their own mail operations – the illiterate feudal age of Europe was giving way to the mercantile age  Universities and expansion of towns + needs of trade increased the amount of written communication  The foundation of a truly national postal service began in france under the umbrella of the Roman catholic church  The postal carriers had some of the same privilidges as priests – the franchise to employ messengers was hugely valuable; messengers added to their income by carrying outsidemail  A growth of mail marked a renewal of civilization into the middle ages  Spreading of mercantile interests of cities/towns led to arragements to prtect their trade w/ outside world th  14 – 15 c = the Italian Della Torres family ran a private courier service that spread across Europe – rickh, powerful and operated under charters of the holy Roman Empire (swift + dependable system) o The firm took on the name Thurn and Taxis, it was then a kind of pony express  By 1500, letter routes were open to the public across europe – there were affordable post fees  In 15 c France, Louis XI revived a national postal service strictly for govntal use – anyone who dared to inject private letters was doomed to Hell  Fear of hell did not stop all private communication when a coin or 2 might change hands ($)  In 1600, Spanish ruler of the Netherlands legalized who had been a crime openly practiced – he gave the Taxis service officials permission too charge for private letter o A king appointed a postmaster – the franchisee paid for an exclusive right to pursue a profitable enterprise called a “farm”; he would pay rent to the king/govt for the privilege of managing the posts o The farmer harvest the money for those whoever used the service o This eventually led to competition The New World  In 1639 a post office was set up in the tavern + home of Richard Fairbanks of Boston  Ship captains delivered their mail packets and picked up those bound for Europe  Letters were carried by friends or trusted strangers – they walked inland or eventually through routes in the wilderness  1 private post boxes consisted of a row of old boots nailed against a wall w/ a settlers name  Benjamin Franklin, a printer and newspaper publisher was appointment postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737 o He was later promoted to be deputy postmaster general for all north American colonies – he improved service and showed the first surplus in the colonial service budget o Putting service first, he would produce a profit through greater use of mails o He established post roads from Canada to florida + set up regular schedule bw colonies
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