Agriculture and Rural Society after the Black Death
Common themes and regional variations
Edited by Ben Dodds and Richard Britnell
"There is much to recommend this book, providing as it does a wealth of detail and much scholarly discussion on the nature of agriculture and rural society in the century after the Black Death. As such, it succeeds admirably in combining fresh perspectives on current areas of debate with new research based upon innovative approaches to the changes and upheavals of this period. It will be of immense value to all scholars working in the sphere of late medieval economic history."
Christine M. Newman, Economic History Review
"[The] section openers are extremely useful and will be invaluable to those who teach the economic history of the period.... All of the articles contain material of value and some make important contributions to existing knowledge.... As an exercise in emphasising the regional dimension to the late-medieval economy, this collection is very successful indeed."
Jonathan Healey, Local Population Studies
This is a new collection of essays on agriculture and rural society in the late Middle Ages, in particular following the Black Death. It combines a broad perspective on agrarian issues such as depopulation and social conflict with illustrative material from detailed local and regional research to show how general problems were worked out in specific contexts. The contributors explore the wide regional variety across Europe (which was influenced by climatic differences and broad spatial variables such as levels of urbanisation and commercial infrastructure), yet they argue that a European history is nevertheless possible. They also supply detailed studies from regional British contexts relating to, amongst other issues, the use of the land, the movement of prices, the distribution of property, the organisation of trade and the cohesion of village society. There is new research on several aspects of regional development in medieval England and other European countries: Robert Swanson, a leading authority on the history of the late medieval Church, discusses how the collection of tithes to maintain local clergy in the medieval Church contributed to the commercialisation of trade in grain and other agricultural products; Peter Larson shows how villagers became increasingly prone to violence in the generations following the Black Death, in response to the social upheavals caused by the epidemic. If there is a single overarching idea that gives the collection coherence, it is that trends in agriculture during the late Middle Ages were more varied than has usually been supposed. Taken as a whole, the book supplies a valuable introduction to problems and research methods together with original contributions to knowledge based on current research.
Ben Dodds is a lecturer in the Department of History in Durham, specialising in late-medieval economic and social history. He has recently published Peasants and Production in the Medieval North-East: the Evidence from Tithes, 1270-1536 (Boydell Press, 2007).
Richard Britnell taught in the University of Durham from 1966 until 2003. He is a specialist in the economic and social history of the medieval period, and is the author of several monographs and textbooks, including The Commercialisation of English Society, 1000-1500 (Manchester University Press, 1996) and Britain and Ireland, 1050-1530: Economy and Society (OUP, 2004). He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005.
Studies in Regional and Local History, Volume 6
April 2009, 288pp
Paperback £18.99 / $37.95