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T O P I C     R E V I E W
MariaIf a king wanted to send an urgent message to another king (from Paris to Rome, say) how fast would the message arrive? And if you want to make it faster, the messenger would have to change horses on the way?
A lot would depend on the time of year of course. As many roads did not really come into existence until the late 18th Cen. as we know them. Horses, sad to say, were sometimes ridden to the death, or near enough. Paris to Rome I don't know.
But somewhere in the U.K. ... say Chester to London. A good 200+ miles, could be achieved in 24hrs, or less. But that is staying in the same country. Crossing another country (or two!), could be even more complicated.
LevanPigeons were often used for messages that needed to be transmitted urgently. This obviously depended on a pre-existing communication network between those wishing to communicate - important people often had representatives in different locations (a precursor to the Embassy system) who would be responsible for handling communications on their behalf.

Sometimes messages would be passed between several intermediate places, so only the very last part of the journey (if at all) needed to be done by horse and rider.

The Romans were used carrier pigeons as means for relaying messages. Pigeons were recorded as used in Baghdad in 1150, although the most widespread usage is repted to be by Genghis Khan who established pigeon relay posts across and Asia and much of Eastern Europe.

In 1850 Reuters started his stock-market information service with 45 pigeons that were used to pass messages between Brussels and Aachen in Germany. This journey took the pigeons two hours - six hours faster than the railway line. Quite how long this journey would take by horse - I've no idea.

Pigeons were still used in the second world war (some winning medals); and indeed, even in today's age of satelite communication Reuters is believed still to have pigeons available in difficult locations as part of its Global communications network. Pigeons were also used to pass messages in the recent gulf war.


[This message has been edited by Levan (edited 03-13-2006).]

PeterCan't believe I forgot about the good old pigeon!
MerlinCommunication needed time in the middle ages... very much time. During my time at university I did research about envoys in carolingian times (8th to 10th century). The carolingian kings and emperors had many diplomatic contacts with other kings in europe (from Wessex to Denmark, from Saxony to the pope in Rome), but also with the emperor in Constantiopolis, with Jerusalem and Baghdad. To bring a message to the Bosporus took an envoy several months. They used to travel by ship from Italy or the south of France. Also for voyages within Europe, ships were prefered because the roads were that bad. Imagine that it was almost impossible to cross the Alps during winter!

It always was a dangerous journey, and many envoys didn't come back at all: They were killed by the kings enemys underway, caught by pirates or their ship sunk in a storm.

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