About the book
“Susan Kilby's first book shines a fresh and original light on medieval peasants, applying insights from maps and place-names. She convinces the reader that with an imaginative and careful application of new evidence we can know something of ordinary people's sense of their surroundings and their meaning.” Chris Dyer, University of Leicester
“The book provides a model for research into a Cambridgeshire vill…” Evelyn Lord, CALH Review
“This is a fascinating study which adopts a hugely innovative approach to a familiar topic. It is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in the rural environment of late medieval England.” Joanne Sear, Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
“[A] compelling book on the nature of medieval peasantry and on the means and mechanisms of being-in-the-world they developed regarding the social construction of landscapes. This study will interest a wide range of specialists on medieval and peasant studies and represents an important historiographical landmark.” Carlos Tejerizo-García, Historia Agraria
“[A] highly novel and original study, hopefully paving the way for further similar investigations, both regional and comparative.” Philip Slavin, Economic History Review
“Kilby's aspiration for this book is set out in the introductory chapter: ‘to demonstrate that the recovery of peasant perspectives on the environments in which they lived and worked is a realistic and attainable goal’ (p. 6). It is one which she had unquestionably achieved.” Stuart Wrathmell, Medieval Settlement Research Group
This compelling new study forms part of a new wave of scholarship on the medieval rural environment in which the focus moves beyond purely socio-economic concerns to incorporate the lived experience of peasants.
For too long, the principal intellectual approach has been to consider both subject and evidence from a modern, rationalist perspective and to afford greater importance to the social elite. New perspectives are needed.
By re-evaluating the source material from the perspective of the peasant worldview, it is possible to build a far more detailed representation of rural peasant experience. Susan Kilby seeks to reconstruct the physical and socio-cultural environment of three contrasting English villages — Lakenheath in Suffolk, Castor in Northamptonshire and Elton in Huntingdonshire — between c. 1086 and c. 1348 and to use this as the basis for determining how peasants perceived their natural surroundings.
ISBN: 978-1-912260-21-8 Format: Paperback, 256pp Published: Mar 2020
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