Au XIXe siècle l'administration des Postes constitue l'une des principales institutions de la France. Elle connaît un essor considérable entre 1830 et 1914, période au cours de laquelle se façonnent les fondements et les pratiques d'une administration moderne ainsi que ses principes de service public. La présente étude, qui s'appuie sur une base monographique dédiée à la Normandie, entendue au sens de la grande province d'Ancien Régime, la confronte sans cesse aux transformations nationales d'une institution qui n'a de cesse d'élargir ses prérogatives.
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 18th 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?