XII, 2016, 1

Accessibility and Centrality. Moldavia’s Market Towns Within the Internal Network of Great Commercial Roads in the 15th Century | p. 287–306

accessibility, adjacency matrix, caravan road network, centrality, characteristic values and vectors, Moldavia, undirected graph


With the advancement of computers and computational mathematics at the end of the 1960s, the geographers could, for the first time, acquire relevant information about the transportation networks using mathematical methods, which represent the networks as undirected graphs to which an adjacency matrix is associated. Using Perron-Frobenius Theorem from Linear Algebra, the mathematicians proved that the accessibility of the nodes of a transportation network is measured by the main eigenvector of the adjacency matrix of its associated graph. Moreover, the main eigenvalue of this matrix measures the “total connectivity” of the network. The accessibility of a node from a transportation network quantifies, basically, how easy it is to arrive at a specific node of the network starting from any other of its nodes.

Using this inter-disciplinary approach to analyse the caravan road network from Moldavia, in two stages of development reconstituted using the texts of the privileges the rulers from Suceava granted to the traders from Lvov in 1408 and 1460, the author aimed at several objectives. Firstly, to investigate if this network was indeed planned (intuitively, of course) to sustain the privileged position of Suceava as the main customs point. Then, to research whether the relocation of the main residence of the rulers of Moldavia from Suceava to Iaşi in the 16th century was a political and administrative decision, which produced important changes in the network of communication roads, or, on the contrary, the relocation was the consequence of the changes produced within the network. Thirdly, to investigate the accessibility of foreign destinations for traders transiting or starting from Moldavia, in order to reveal one or more possible “strategic directions” privileged by the network of the main commercial roads of the country. Last but not least, to reveal a “nucleus” of Moldavia (the region with the greatest density of population and with the most developed transportation and commercial network) and to describe how it extended or changed its centre of mass, in search for suggestions regarding the mechanisms and phases of the development of the country in the 15th century.