Explore the Museum

800 - 1400AD - Medieval

Map

In the twelfth century there was a revival in learning and trade, resulting in the growth of towns and the foundation of many famous universities. The monasteries also led to a religious resurgence.

Towns, trade guilds, universities, monasteries and groups of merchants all set up messenger services. The monastic posts helped to sustain a shared outlook and faith. Scholarship became international thanks to the university posts. Money could be moved throughout Europe by merchants' posts.

Our modern state posts in Britain, France and Germany developed from the corps of couriers kept by kings and princes. Nobles, clerks, scholars and businessmen envied their efficiency, security and long reach. Occasionally their private mail was carried by these couriers, but only unofficially. Rulers were reluctant to open their posts to private correspondence because they suspected this would interfere with urgent dispatches.

In 1505, the Imperial Emperor Maximilian I established a postal system to cover the Holy Roman Empire. To run it, he appointed Count Francis of Taxis, whose family had long been involved in the organisation of Imperial posts, earning a formidable reputation for efficiency.

Franz Von Thurn Und Taxis

Franz Von Thurn und Taxis 1450 - 1517

Stamp of Thurn Und Taxis Postal Service

Stamp of Thurn und Taxis postal service

From its start the Taxis posts were open to the public. Despite their heavy fees, correspondence grew, because of unrivalled scope, speed and efficiency of the service. As the network developed over the following century it crossed territories and set up links with other countries, including France and England. Thus, the idea of international posts began to take shape.