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Socio Economic Notes

History Notes > History of the British Isles II: 1042-1330 Notes

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Major Issues Static agrarian economy or dynamic market economy?
How many people were there?
What was the rate of population growth?
Where did people live - in towns, uplands, lowlands?
~ What conclusions should be drawn?
~ Does it make sense to generalise about England?
~ Or should we concentrate on the differing circumstances of different types of locality?
How much land was under the plough?
How free were peasants?
Did they mainly use money?
How typical were 'classical manors'?
Were there marked changes in the size of landholdings?
What were towns like?
~ How specialised was the economy?
Was 12th and 13th century England a 1st or 3rd world economy?

Economy Tutorial Salt in Droitwich
~ Secondary industry on the coast specialisation
~ Seen in Domesday Droitwich in the 9th century was known as Saltwich
~ Agriculture was still the main employer
~ Mix of full employment and by-employment Shift to a more diversified economy There at the beginning and the end
~ Expansion but also continuity Where do the state and lords fit in?
~ Gain tolls Each wants a direct stake in salting
~ Ethos - not market traders but personal property
~ Not very market-orientated
~ Only in terms of providing expensive services to peasants Lords are effectively limiting the market economy - are not moving it forwards
~ Levies and taxes curb trading All major transactions should be in front of a reeve in a burgh Customary split of profits - 2/3 king, 1/3 lord
~ Linked interest - due to the Conquest?


1086 - reports much wasteland yet some used for grazing Can overestimate expansion of land Still major examples e.g. Exmoor Matiland - 10.6 million acres under cultivation in 1086
~ 11.7 million during World War 1 - peak in cultivation How can England feed 3 times as many people?
Model of Domesday landscape with only small amounts of cultivated land is highly misleading
~ Much cultivation The average peasant had 10-15 acres Late 13th century - evidence for famine
~ Not major prior to this Key input in agriculture is human labour - twice as many people
~ Work harder on their own land Monetisation - major technological change
~ Better than bartering for that which you do not want Small-scale transactions may be driving economic growth

Some villeins have more land than others - rich and poor
~ Bribery and negotiation
~ Disparities in holdings
~ Money accumulation is very important Growth of rivers network and communications Knight etc. do not have vast estates
~ Individuals are focused on exploiting land to the maximum
~ Innovations and entrepreneurialism in markets Ireland and ethos of asset-stripping
~ Not focusing on husbandry and estate management Shift to greater exploitation of a larger population Peasants, unlike the knights, are not led astray from their agricultural employment Same levels of urbanisation as the 16th century Country can produce for seigneurial population and urban 10% population
~ Hard to sustain view of the rural world as a subsistence landscape Level of specialisation within towns
~ Winchester - urban metropolis
~ Not just elites
~ Manufacturing and trading entity Henry I stops changing the silver content - reacting to an unstable economy Are kings getting the same percentage of money?
~ Seems to have declined Welfare
~ Have no peasant testimonies
~ Contemporaries think that there is less freedom Landlords construct the law to suit them
~ In reality, there may be greater freedom - peasants find ways of circumventing laws Peasants want to move - will get money Church highlights sin fines Villeins hold more land but owe more services
~ Cottars have less land and owe less services - in a way they are freer Freedom is relative - are freer if you are poorer

Rural Economy and Society Dr Doherty Different lordships - secular, ecclesiastic, supernatural
~ Could be aggressive Borough communities - sought to collect tolls Great importance of money - monetisation of the economy
~ 1000-1300 the use of coin becomes the standard mechanism for the acquisition of goods, the payment of labourers, knights and others and an essential component of the economies of the medieval west Economic historians are particularly to prone to forming models to explain economies
~ When presented with the evidence there is variation, discrepancies and contradictions Can argue that we have over-seigneurialised the economy and landscape of England
~ Should not just focus on the king and the elite
~ 2 different types of land - 'inland' and 'warland'
~ Inland - pressure and presence of lordship was at its most intensive and searching
~ Warland - land held by freemen in loose confederations sharing arable and pasture Faith - Pre-12th century England has generally been seen through the lens of inland distorts the picture
~ Other indicators reveal the existence of property holding, land and resources sharing very different from that centred on the interests on the elite There are some clear factual points 1300 was a very different landscape in 1100 There are many more towns - in 1300 there are about 700 towns in England, 80 towns in Scotland and 50 towns in Wales
~ Almost 3 times the number as in 1100 There was also an expansion of population Almost certainly under-counted by Domesday but 1300 was far higher
~ 1300 - about 6 million
~ 2-3 times as much as it was in 1100 The impact of this expansion could be seen on the landscape
~ Cultivation and exploitation of land that had not previously been used
~ Woodland is cleared
~ Marshland and fenland are being cleared
~ Upper slopes of uplands in the north are being exploited with new and profitable techniques
~ e.g. the Cistercians with their large flocks of sheep and cattle By 1212 about 11 million pounds of tin are being mined in Devon and Cornwall Silver and lead mining Intensification of industry

Wool of several million sheep was shipped to Flanders - revenue for the commercial elite and their warmongering kings Very clear inflation from the late 12th century
~ At the beginning of the 12th century - a quarter of wheat would be sold for 2 shillings
~ By the early 1190s the same amount was being sold for 8 shillings Footsoldiers went from being paid 1 penny a day to being paid 2 pennies a day under John Peasant farmers had a range of options - growing wheat, oats, malt on carefully demarcated plots of land There would be rotation of fields Could then pasture your sheep and your oxen
~ Oxen is the stable animal of the 12th century peasant family
~ Gradual replacement of oxen with horses
~ 1100 - majority of plough teams would have had oxen
~ By 1300 peasant families and great landlords are using horses The great lords participate in the management of great herds of sheep and cattle particularly where arable land was poor Late 13th century estate survey for Henry de Lacy
~ Clitheroe - had a reeve who specialised in the raising and selling of cattle
~ Complicated management - professional and expert operation
~ 27 vacaries with about 60-80 cattle in each
~ Henry de Lacy had about 2,700 oxen
~ Also true of other lords - exorbitant ransom of Richard I extorted by the emperor was paid partially through the sheep of the Cistercians Supplemented by a range of cottage industries
~ Primary cottage industry was brewing - generally women
~ Status, wealth and life fortunes varied - some were married to major farmers whereas for others it was their livelihood
~ There are a range of different crafts which children could engage in Contemporaries had different views of their peasant communities Peasant farmers constituted the majority of the population
~ They saw kings and kingdoms come and go
~ Peasant communities were very engaged - 1173 chased down Flemish mercenaries in East Anglia Contemporary rhetoric was twofold - at one level there was resentment and jokes about their backwardness but at the same time there was an equally powerful rhetoric that saw these communities as part of the Church and the kingdom of England
~ Range of views Peasants had normal lives e.g. played early forms of football Did mourn their children Evidence in church manuals - prohibitions

St Cuthbert - elderly would pray in the church but the young people would dance and drink in the cemetery Gerald of Wales tells a story about a priest trying to write a sermon yet he is distracted by singing outside Drinking clubs - wasseilling
~ Reformers such as Gilbert of Sempringham tried to stop this Contraceptive mentality - was doubted by many historians seen to begin in 1600
~ Yet manuals of confessors and church legislation show that there were efforts to avoid conception
~ Because of the dangers of childbirth, the view that childbearing made women ugly and that children meant another mouth to feed We find that the majority of peasant families in the 12th and early 13th century have 2 to 3 children
~ Have more children in boom times - they love their children and want to be able to feed them Medieval proverb - 'if not chastely, at least cautiously'
~ Mentality from the 11th century 1180 miracle collection of St Frideswide - female Anglo-Saxon saint
~ About 99 miracles - 77 concern women
~ Came to Oxford seeking intervention
~ Teenage girls unhappy at home
~ Young women married to unpleasant husbands - one woman has a headache that she got on her wedding night and it had not gone away for 2 years Young people are very cautious about entering into marriage
~ In the same way that the secular elite considered strategies The climate at this time is very warm
~ 1250-80 series of unspoilt harvests Age of marriage is dependent upon economic prosperity Peasants do possess their own items e.g. inventories
~ Cloth
~ Tablecloths and towns
~ Tablecloths are very important - have to bring them to the lord's feast The relationship between lords and peasants was not always aggressive and argumentative Evidence seems to show ruthless and greedy impositions on tenant communities Yet there could also be collaboration, support and conviviality All sorts of barons and knights are fined by the Angevin kings for clearing forest
~ Means for gaining much money
~ But it was the peasants who were engaged in the clearance
~ 11th-13th centuries - expansion of Europe in terms of its internal frontiers

An important source of trouble, however, was when the lord expanded his forest onto the common waste land
~ Led to antagonism
~ Difficulty defining where the common land is The men of Middleton in Staffordshire tore down the lord's stakes The towns expand partly because men and women are fleeing to them - migrants are seeking work There were disputes - Emetina of Spalding abbey was one of a number of women who fled to the borough of Spalding
~ Boroughs invite more people - relatives know each other
~ Borough authorities are very sensitive to this - members of boroughs were seen to possess liberties and rights denied to other sections of the community e.g. become witnesses to charters Charters for boroughs also reveal the profits and opportunities on offer
~ Engaging in a world of commerce is dangerous but can bring all sorts of profits
~ e.g. major affrays in the streets of towns In Wales and Ireland being a burgess also means belonging to an English community there is an ethnic dimension in certain parts of the British Isles under this kind of colonial rule Monasteries have a lot of land but little cashflow - are often desperate for money
~ Can get into all sorts of debt Miracle stories tell of all sorts of journeys across Europe being taken by merchants Tensions within towns between different groups very clear penalties for the spread of gossip and rumour and street fighting The Jewish communities are urban - all they can do is loan money
~ Creates immense resentments e.g. 1190
~ Jews belong to the king and it is a serious offence to touch them - shows instability of the kingdom are safe in the king's keeps
~ Exception in York - saw an opportunity to get rid of all of their debts 1347 - had already been a serious of terrible harvests and a great Anglo-Scottish war with devastation
~ Appearance of a plague - will change and transform the contours of the English socio-economic landscape

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