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Survival And Discord In Medieval Society: Essays In Honour Of Christopher Dyer (Medieval Countryside)
 2503528155, 9782503528151

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SURVIVAL AND D ISCORD IN M EDIEVAL S OCIETY

THE MEDIEVAL COUNTRYSIDE Editorial Board under the auspices of Yale University Paul Freedman, Chair, Yale University Isabel Alfonso, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid Monique Bourin, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Sandro Carocci, Università di Roma ‘Tor Vergata’ Piotr Górecki, University of California, Riverside P. C. M. Hoppenbrouwers, Universiteit Leiden Jeppe Netterstrøm, Aarhus Universitet Sigrid Schmitt, Universität Trier Phillipp Schofield, Aberystwyth University Lluís To Figueras, Universitat de Girona

Previously published volumes in this series are listed at the back of this book

V O LU M E 4

SURVIVAL AND D ISCORD IN M EDIEVAL S OCIETY Essays in Honour of Christopher Dyer

Edited by

Richard Goddard, John Langdon, and Miriam Müller

H F

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Survival and discord in medieval society : essays in honour of Christopher D yer. -- (The medieval countryside ; v. 4) 1. England – Civilization – 1066-1485. 2. England – Social conditions – 1066-1485. I. Series II. Dyer, Christopher, 1944- III. Goddard, Richard, 1967- IV. Langdon, John. V. Muller, Miriam. 942'.03-dc22 ISBN-13: 9782503528151

© 2010, Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. D/2010/0095/47 ISBN: 978-2-503-52815-1

C ONTENTS

List of Illustrations Introduction

vii 1

RICHARD GODDARD, JOHN LANGDON, AND MIRIAM MÜLLER

The Long and the Short: Rural Settlement in Medieval England GRENVILLE ASTILL (University of Reading)

11

Lords and Wastes HAROLD FOX (University of Leicester)

29

Postan’s Fifteenth Century RICHARD BRITNELL (University of Durham)

49

Surviving Recession: English Borough Courts and Commercial Contraction, 1350–1500 RICHARD GODDARD (University of Nottingham)

69

Economic Survival in Late Medieval Derbyshire: The Spirituality Income of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield, c. 1400–c. 1535 ROBERT SWANSON (University of Birmingham)

89

Waged Building Employment in Medieval England: Subsistence Safety Net or Demographic Trampoline? JOHN LANGDON (University of Alberta)

109

Town, Country, and Law: Royal Courts and Regional Mobility in Medieval England, c. 1200–c. 1400 JAMES MASSCHAELE (Rutgers University)

127

Trespass Litigation in the Manor Court in the Late Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries PHILLIPP R. SCHOFIELD (Aberystwyth University)

145

Individualism, Community, and Lordship: The Peasant Demesne Lessees of Great Horwood, 1320–1610 MATTHEW TOMPKINS (University of Leicester)

161

Monitoring Demesne Managers through the Manor Court before and after the Black Death CHRIS BRIGGS (University of Southampton)

179

Confrontation and Negotiation in a Medieval Village: Alrewas before the Black Death JEAN BIRRELL (University of Birmingham)

197

The Control of Discord in Fifteenth-Century Chester JANE LAUGHTON (University of Leicester)

213

Food, Hierarchy, and Class Conflict MIRIAM MÜLLER (University of Birmingham)

231

Rural Revolts and Structural Change in the Low Countries, Thirteenth – Early Fourteenth Centuries BAS J. P. VAN BAVEL (Universiteit Utrecht)

249

Revolts of the Late Middle Ages and the Peculiarities of the English SAMUEL K. COHN, JR (University of Glasgow)

269

Bibliography of Christopher Dyer’s Writings, 1968–2009: The Story So Far . . .

287

COMPILED BY RICHARD GODDARD

Index

295

Tabula Gratulatoria

307

ILLUSTRATIONS

Harold Fox, ‘Lords and Wastes’ Table 1, p. 45. Okehampton manor, 1534–35: sources of income.

Richard Britnell, ‘Postan’s Fifteenth Century’ Table 2, p. 61. Average annual values of combined wool and cloth exports at constant prices, 1401–10 to 1491–1500 (decadal averages).

Richard Goddard, ‘Surviving Recession’ Table 3, p. 80. Nottingham borough court burgess debt pleas, 1350–1499. Table 4, p. 81. Winchester city court debt pleas, 1350–1473.

John Langdon, ‘Waged Building Employment in Medieval England’ Table 5, p. 113. John Munro’s nominal labourers’ wages, 1266–1350. Table 6, p. 114. Daily wages for adult male labourers on various royal sites. Table 7, p. 118. Career of Alexander Lucas, operator, at Windsor Castle, 1294–1315.

Miriam Müller, ‘Food, Hierarchy, and Class Conflict’ Figure 1, p. 238. Food given to boonworkers at the manors of the Bishopric of Winchester.

Bas J. P. van Bavel, ‘Rural Revolts and Structural Change in the Low Countries’ Map 1, p. 268. Regions and towns mentioned in the text.

INTRODUCTION Richard Goddard, John Langdon, and Miriam Müller

I

n 2008, Christopher Dyer received a CBE for services to scholarship in the Queen’s birthday honours list. It is a well-earned tribute for an academic career with a tremendous influence on medieval social and economic history. It is difficult to categorize his career around a single theme or even set of themes. His current position as head of the Department of Local History at the University of Leicester underscores this difficulty, in that it is a post that celebrates the particular and the difficult to define in more general terms. In this regard, the two motifs highlighted in the title of this volume, ‘survival’ and ‘discord’, should be seen as poles of a continuum of interests by an illustrious scholar rather than necessarily defining the dominant ideas of his career. The two themes, however, do comprise a considerable part of his extensive and wide-ranging publications, which we have endeavoured to list (undoubtedly with some omissions) at the end of this volume. Survival in medieval British society is an issue which he comprehensively considered in two of his major publications, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages and Making a Living in the Middle Ages.1 Central to both of these works was exactly how well medieval people lived in physical terms and how resources were shared amongst them, the main geographical focus being the British Isles and especially England. Dyer’s intimate knowledge of both documentary and archaeological evidence gave a particular richness to these considerations and a comprehensive treatment of all sections of society, from rich to poor, so that lords commanded as much of his attention as did 1

Christopher Dyer, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; rev. edn, 1998); Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).

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Richard Goddard, John Langdon, and Miriam Müller

peasants. In examining the mechanisms by which individuals and families of all ranks sought to feed, clothe, and otherwise maintain themselves, Dyer has investigated a number of major avenues, ranging from how people structured their landscapes, the techniques they used to fashion a sufficiency from the land, how rich a life in diet and material life they could expect, and how they managed their existences generally. Equally central was his balanced treatment of urban and rural societies, indicated not only in his two major works on survival issues, but in a number of smaller publications. He has likewise been unafraid to explore the unusual or esoteric in the matter of fashioning a living in medieval society, whether it be gardens or goats.2 In short, Dyer’s research has broadened our understanding of the way that medieval people approached the problems of surviving on a day-today basis, their approach to making that living (that is, whether they can be considered capitalists, for example), how they valued leisure, and how they conceived their lives.3 In the other pole that we have used, discord, that is, going beyond the tensions of simply making a living, Dyer has been equally influential. Being trained at the University of Birmingham under the tutelage of the great historian of medieval class conflict, Rodney Hilton, it is not surprising that Dyer’s work would display some of those interests. In a way, it was reflected in his first full-length work on the medieval bishopric of Worcester, where the relationship of lord and tenants on a large estate was examined over nearly a millennium.4 But Dyer has increasingly tended to dissect these tensions in a more localized fashion, no more evident than 2

Christopher Dyer, ‘Gardens and Garden Produce in the Later Middle Ages’, in Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition, ed. by Christopher M. Woolgar, Dale Serjeantson, and Tony Waldron (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 27–40; Dyer, ‘Jardins et vergers en Angleterre au moyen âge’, in Jardins et vergers en Europe occidentale (VIIIe– XVIIIe siècles): 9e Journées internationales d’histoire, Flaran, 18–20 septembre 1987, Flaran, 9 (Valence-sur-Baise: Centre culturel départemental de l’abbaye de Flaran, 1989), pp. 145–64; Dyer, ‘Alternative Agriculture: Goats in Medieval England’, in People, Landscape and Alternative Agriculture: Essays for Joan Thirsk, ed. by Richard W. Hoyle, Agricultural History Review Supplement, 3rd series (Exeter: British Agricultural History Society, 2004), pp. 20–38; Dyer, ‘Work Ethics in the Fourteenth Century’, in The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-Century England, ed. by James Bothwell, P. J. P. Goldberg, and W. Mark Ormrod (York: York Medieval Press, 2000), pp. 21–41; Dyer, ‘Memories of Freedom: Attitudes Towards Serfdom in England, 1200–1350’, in Serfdom and Slavery: Studies in Legal Bondage, ed. by Michael L. Bush (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 277–95. 3 The latter two issues are particularly evident in his An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 4

Christopher Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

INTRODUCTION

3

in his masterful piece on some Suffolk rebels of 1381 or his groundbreaking study of the background to the 1381 rebels on individual manors.5 Also, in a sense, he has tended to blend the overt struggle of the medieval English lower classes against their lords and each other in a spectrum of tensions that affected life in the Middle Ages as a whole. This was most directly reflected in the dialectical approach he adopted in his Ford Lectures, with such headings as ‘Community and Privacy’, ‘Authority and Freedom’, ‘Consumption and Investment’, ‘Subsistence and Markets’, and ‘Work and Leisure’.6 He has thus taken the more overtly political aspect of resistance and rebellion and has followed it deeper into the fabric of medieval society, much as Rodney Hilton had earlier attempted to do in a temporal fashion by extending the roots of the 1381 rebellion back to the time of the Black Death and before.7 Although Dyer’s vision is perhaps more organic than the dissonance in ‘survival and discord’ implies, he nonetheless does not shy away from examining the layers of resentment that characterized medieval life, whether this has been a generalized reaction to their tenurial circumstances or their reaction to the labour restrictions of the post-Black-Death era.8 The result has been a richer consideration of the quality of life in the Middle Ages and its connection to how contemporaries felt about their existence and the actions they took concerning it. A cornerstone of Dyer’s work, especially on the peasantry, has been to accord agency to those who are all too often and quickly viewed as powerless. Far from being helplessly downtrodden, the peasantry in particular have been revealed as shrewd, intelligent, and capable of more than just being able to run their own affairs. In a number of groundbreaking studies Dyer has pushed the peasantry to the forefront as key to the running of local government and the manorial community, 5

Christopher Dyer, ‘The Rising of 1381 in Suffolk: Its Origins and Participants’, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 36 (1988), 274–87; Dyer, ‘The Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381’, in The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Rodney H. Hilton and Trevor H. Aston, Past and Present Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 9–42. 6

Dyer, Age of Transition?

7

Rodney H. Hilton, ‘Peasant Movements in England before 1381’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 2 (1949), 117–36. 8

Dyer, ‘Memories of Freedom’; Dyer, ‘Villeins, Bondsmen, Neifs, and Serfs: New Serfdom in England, c. 1200–1600’, in Forms of Servitude in Northern and Central Europe: Decline, Resistance, and Expansion, ed. by Paul Freedman and Monique Bourin, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 419–35; Christopher Dyer and Simon A. C. Penn, ‘Wages and Earnings in Late Medieval England: Evidence from the Enforcement of the Labour Laws’, Economic History Review, 43 (1990), 356–76.

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whether that is in the communal organization of the collection of local taxes like the lay subsidies or as integral to the running of the manor as reeves and other manorial officials.9 Peasant communities are shown to be important and generally cooperative bodies, instrumental in working together to shape the local landscape through land reclamation or in the agricultural organization of open fields, as well as organizing in resistance or open revolt against local lordship. However, while recognizing the importance of cooperation at village level, necessary to aid survival, including communal efforts in parish guilds and fraternities, Dyer has stressed that this should not be confused with romantic ideas of village harmony and utilized manorial court rolls to show that there was plenty of conflict and friction in medieval villages.10 This balanced position has led to his engagement with some very lively debates about the nature of village communities and in particular the question whether the community was in decline in the later Middle Ages, especially after the Black Death.11 In a similar vein he has explored peasant ties to their land and the changing nature of what has come to be termed the ‘peasant-land bond’, in an effort to increase our understanding of shifts and changes in landholding patterns especially again in the aftermath of the arrival of the Black Death.12 Dyer argues that some level of communal structure and cohesion was not only a village necessity in daily agricultural activities, but also important in peasant struggles with their lords. Following the research of Rodney Hilton, Dyer has highlighted social structures of inequality and exploitation, as well as the important role the village elite tended to play in

9

Christopher Dyer, ‘Taxation and Communities in Late Medieval England’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 168–90. 10

Chrisopher Dyer, ‘Power and Conflict in the Medieval English Village’, in Medieval Villages: A Review of Recent Work, ed. by Della Hooke (Oxford: Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, 1985), pp. 27–32, reprinted in Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994), pp. 1–11; Dyer, ‘The English Medieval Village Community and its Decline’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), 407–29. 11

Dyer, ‘English Medieval Village Community’; Alan Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism: The Family, Property, and Social Transition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978); J. Ambrose Raftis, ‘Changes in an English Village after the Black Death’, Medieval Studies, 29 (1967), 158–77. 12

Christopher Dyer, ‘Changes in the Link Between Families and Land in the West Midlands in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in Land, Kinship and Life-cycle, ed. by Richard M. Smith, Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 305–11; Zvi Razi, ‘Family, Land, and the Village Community in Later Medieval England’, Past and Present, 93 (1981), 3–36.

INTRODUCTION

5

providing leadership in acts of rebellion, especially in the rising of 1381.13 However, while under the control and jurisdiction of lords, peasants were not helplessly at their mercy. In the dialectical relationship between seigneurial power and peasant resistance they were able to exert an important influence on the limits of seigneurial exploitation and eventually the decline of seigneurial power, especially in the decades after the Black Death.14 A theme perhaps most strongly pursued in An Age of Transition?, the agency of individual peasants, alongside communal structures, is seen as key to the understanding of the development of agrarian capitalism. In a critique of the Brenner thesis, the peasantry are seen as active participants in agrarian developments of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries rather than the mere victims helplessly swept along by overbearing enclosing actions of the gentry and aristocracy in the wake of agrarian capitalism.15 This quick sketch of what might be called the main thrust of Christopher Dyer’s publications does not do justice to the sheer extent of them. Christopher Dyer is something of a polymath. A central theme of Dyer’s research into medieval settlements, both urban and rural, is its multidisciplinary approach. His work in this area often effortlessly combines documentary, archaeological, place-name, and topographical evidence.16 Archaeology and landscape studies have always played a prominent role in his career, as evident from many of his many publications on the subject (see Bibliography). His work often includes investigations into settlements’ pre-medieval, indeed in many cases pre-Roman, origins. An important component of this research approach, reflecting his interest in W. G. Hoskins’s work, is an understanding of the landscape in which medieval settlements lay. For example, Dyer recognized early on that successful towns often lay on the frontiers of contrasting landscapes. This multidisciplinary approach can be clearly seen in the Village, Hamlet and Field publication that studied the genesis and evolution of settlement structures in central England and in the publications of the research projects with which he has been closely associated, most notably the recent Whittlewood project.17 This project, which he headed from 2000 to 2005, was an

13

Dyer, ‘The Rising of 1381 in Suffolk’.

14

Dyer, ‘Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381’.

15

Dyer, Age of Transition?, esp. pp. 40–45.

16

See, for example, Christopher Dyer, ‘The Archaeology of Medieval Small Towns’, Medieval Archaeology, 47 (2003), 85–114. 17

Carenza Lewis, Patrick Mitchell-Fox, and Christopher Dyer, Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997).

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examination of the settlement patterns of eleven parishes in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, using techniques of archaeology, field walking, earthwork surveys, aerial photography, and general environmental analysis to complement the available documentary evidence. The project resulted in a book by the two principal investigators on the project, Richard Jones and Mark Page,18 and reflects the sort of interdisciplinary initiative for which Dyer has become justly famous. Dyer writes as authoritatively about medieval urban society as he does about the rural. Indeed much of his work has stressed the economic interconnections between the countryside and towns and, following his mentor Rodney Hilton’s lead, has described how towns and rural settlements should be seen as constituent elements of a cohesive economic system. His work on towns, as witnessed in his contributions to The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, has concentrated particularly upon both small towns and those in the English midlands, such as Pershore, Alcester, Bromsgrove, Bibury, and Stratford-upon-Avon (where he went to school) to name but a few.19 His work on towns has studied the economic interests of urban populations and has explored the role of towns as centres of consumption attracting a wide range of buyers and sellers from the greatest magnates to the humblest peasants to their markets and shops.20 Of particular significance for medieval urban studies is Dyer’s work on urban hierarchies. In two important publications he and his co-authors have formulated a clear methodology that enables historians to distinguish towns of different sizes and function and so to rank them within a regional and national framework.21 This is no mean feat for settlements whose medieval characteristics might be hidden from us by more than half a millennium of later development. A keystone of Dyer’s urban research is his discussion of medieval towns as ‘central places’. This has further refined our understanding of small towns in the medieval economy. His groundbreaking work on urban

18

Richard Jones and Mark Page, Medieval Villages in an English Landscape: Beginnings and Ends (Macclesfield: Windgather, 2006). 19

Christopher Dyer, ‘Small Towns 1270–1540’ and, with Terry J. Slater, ‘The Midlands’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, vol. I: 600–1540, ed. by David M. Palliser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 505–37, 609–38. 20

Dyer, Standards of Living, pp. 118–210; Dyer, ‘The Consumer and the Market in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 42 (1989), 305–27. 21

Christopher Dyer and Jane Laughton, ‘Small Towns in the East and West Midlands in the Later Middle Ages: A Comparison’, Midland History, 24 (1999), 24–52; Christopher Dyer, Jane Laughton, and Evan Jones, ‘The Urban Hierarchy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study of the East Midlands’, Urban History, 28 (2001), 331–57.

INTRODUCTION

7

hinterlands — wherein he used details of plaintiffs involved in debt pleas found in manorial and borough court rolls to identify and map the trading hinterlands of a number of small towns — is typical of Dyer’s innovative exploitation of well-used documentary sources. The importance of this research is reflected in his concluding chapter of the Centre for Metropolitan History’s publication on London’s medieval hinterland.22 Dyer’s work has blended aspects of both survival and discord in medieval urban society. With regard to discord, his influential article on the long-running conflict between the townspeople of Shipston-on-Stour and their lord manages to place this urban revolt within the context of the town’s origins and its medieval economy.23 But Dyer’s work on settlements often stresses survival. Whilst some rural settlements were abandoned in the later Middle Ages, due to a combination of depopulation and a preference for pastoralism, other settlements grew, new hamlets were founded, and new peasant cottages built.24 Furthermore, he argues that many of England’s markets and small towns, despite suffering significant population loss in the epidemics of the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, fared relatively well when compared to their larger neighbours which commonly experienced periods of decline after 1400. Indeed the commercialized economy of these places survived the crises of the later Middle Ages.25 In this volume, to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday in December 2009, we have brought together a number of contributions from Professor Dyer’s students (as represented, for example, by the editors), colleagues, and friends that attempt to reflect the full range of Professor Dyer’s considerations and the influence they have had on the field of medieval English social and economic history. We have arranged them in roughly the way that they address the two issues of survival and discord, starting with those contributions that deal with general survival issues

22

Christopher Dyer, ‘Market Towns and the Countryside in Late Medieval England’, Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire, 31 (1996), 17–35; Dyer, ‘Trade, Urban Hinterlands and Market Integration, 1300–1600: A Summing Up’, in Trade, Urban Hinterlands and Market Integration c. 1300–1600: A Collection of Working Papers Given at a Conference Organised by the Centre for Metropolitan History and Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, 7 July 1999, ed. by James A. Galloway, Centre for Metropolitan History Working Papers Series, 3 (London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2000), pp. 103–09. 23

Christopher Dyer, ‘Small Town Conflict in the Later Middle Ages: Events at Shipston-onStour’, Urban History, 19 (1992), 183–210. 24

Dyer, Age of Transition?, p. 227.

25

Dyer, ‘Small Towns’, p. 537; Dyer, Age of Transition?, pp. 21, 161, 227–28.

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through those that show tensions on a local level to those that show these tensions breaking out in outright conflict. Thus, we start with three considerations across the temporal stretch of Dyer’s work. Grenville Astill considers the way in which settlement patterns developed in the early Middle Ages and afterwards and whether we should see this as occurring over the longue durée or as a series of short, powerfully concentrated spurts. Harold Fox deals with the lords’exploitation of the deceptively named ‘waste’ over the long period of time from the eleventh century to the sixteenth. Finally, Richard Britnell reconsiders the fifteenth century, the end of the Middle Ages, either as a period of deep recession, as Michael Postan originally argued, or as something more positive or optimistic, with the impact that had upon people living at the time. Richard Goddard continues this theme by examining how urban credit responded to the economic conditions of the later Middle Ages, while Robert Swanson does the same for spiritual incomes in late medieval Derbyshire. John Langdon considers how wages might have impacted upon people’s chances of survival and reproduction, using evidence from royal building, particularly for the period before the Black Death, while James Masschaele considers how the development of the royal court system in the same pre-plague period reinforced the economic integration of town and country, with again the impact that that might have had on survival issues. Moving towards the discord end of the continuum, Phillipp Schofield examines trespass litigation in manorial courts, at perhaps the small-scale end of social tensions. Matthew Tompkins considers how community versus individual tensions played out in the matter of demesne leasing on the manor of Great Horwood in Buckinghamshire, while Chris Briggs examines this from the point of view of the people caught in the middle, the village elites who also acted as demesne managers for lords and often found themselves in uncomfortable situations. Jean Birrell shows how these tensions in lord-tenant relationships, and the complex manner in which they often played out, can also be revealed in a close reading of seemingly straightforward and uncontroversial documents, as for the medieval manor of Alrewas in Staffordshire. Jane Laughton does the same in an urban context examining tensions within fifteenth-century Chester. On a more general level, Miriam Müller examines how these tensions could be contested over food and diet in the later Middle Ages. Finally, the volume closes with two perspectives of revolts as a whole in medieval society. Bas van Bavel examines this in relation to the Low Countries in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, while Samuel Cohn examines revolts in late medieval Europe as a whole and the particular role that revolts in England played here. In this fashion, we hope to present a series of essays that reflect the variety of approaches and topics that Christopher Dyer has displayed in abundance throughout

INTRODUCTION

9

his career. We hope that the essays collected here move us some way towards understanding medieval society both in its constructive and destructive modes. We would like to acknowledge the help we have had in making this volume possible, particularly from Professor Erik Thoen, who suggested it be placed in the Brepols series, and to the people at Brepols itself, particularly Simon Forde, who provided sage advice and kind support throughout. Finally we should mention how fortunate we are to have Harold Fox’s chapter in the book. Professor Fox was one of the people we had originally approached for the volume, but his untimely death in the summer of 2007 deprived medieval history of a fine scholar and, initially it appeared, this volume of what would have been a typically insightful and elegant contribution. It was, however, a happy coincidence that a largely completed draft of his chapter on lords and wastes came into our hands virtually at the eleventh hour so that we were able, with the kind permission of Brepols, to include it with our other offerings to the celebration of Chris Dyer’s career. We are extremely grateful to Dr Matthew Tompkins for bringing the draft to our attention and for undertaking the work to bring it up to a publishable standard. We feel it stands as a characteristic representative of Harold’s work and undoubtedly a worthy contribution to this volume.

T HE L ONG AND THE S HORT : R URAL S ETTLEMENT IN M EDIEVAL E NGLAND Grenville Astill

C

hristopher Dyer has made a significant contribution to medieval archaeology, not only in the academic advancement of the subject in both fieldwork and synthesis, but also in guiding the discipline at an institutional level. His longstanding commitment to the integration of documentary with archaeological research to produce a more satisfying socio-economic history is reflected in his work on standards of living, with an emphasis on consumption rather than production; and on both nucleated and dispersed settlement at national and regional levels, and in particular the status of ‘marginal’ areas and the extent to which a ‘community’ functioned within such settlements and who were the dominant elements therein. Concern with the everyday life is perhaps best reflected in his work on peasant buildings, pottery, and coinage, but it is important to record that Dyer has always been concerned with the urban as well as the rural environment, stressing as he does the impact of the market on the countryside and peasant life in particular (see Bibliography). I wish to review some of these major themes in the light of his and others’ work in order to consider the state of knowledge of the medieval countryside. Linking town and countryside remains an important aim.1 The similarity in the form and fabric of medieval towns and villages has long been recognized and includes the variety of planned elements and also their origin, usually set between the ninth and thirteenth centuries. Palliser went on to suggest that the beginnings of all planned settlements should be seen in the later seventh- to ninth-century wic 1

For example, Town and Country in the Middle Ages: Contrasts, Contacts and Interconnections, 1100–1500, ed. by Kate Giles and Christopher Dyer, Society for Medieval Archaeology, 22 (Leeds: Maney, 2005).

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Grenville Astill

and burh phenomenon. Accepting that there were regional differences, he nevertheless thought we should consider a political origin for these towns, as part of state development, which influenced the whole development of medieval settlement.2 The coincidence of planned features has also been noted in the twelfth and/or thirteenth centuries with the formation of market areas in villages.3 One of the most common explanations for the (re)development of medieval settlements and field systems, including village and open-field formation, is the intensification of rural resources in order to support a growing state and urban structure, particularly in the ninth and tenth centuries.4 The demands of a centralized state should tend to confer uniformity over most of the country, so we have to consider whether the intense regional variation in rural settlements and fields, including areas of both hamlets and villages, can be explained by or seen as an appropriate response to a developing state. Plan elements common to both town and village are usually thought to indicate a similarity of function or response to common stimuli, but this falls short as an explanatory tool. One of the arguments used to support the view that the burhs represented a town-planning exercise was to compare them with the planned towns of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.5 Subsequent work on these later new towns has shown that even in successful examples part of the planned area took a long time to be developed or remained unoccupied.6 It is important therefore to draw a distinction between urban aspiration and actual urban achievement; and if we want to pursue the similarity with rural settlements, we should also consider the possibility of an interrupted sequence in the development of planned villages. 2

David Palliser, ‘On the Earlier Origins of English Towns’, British Archaeology, 24 (1997), 8–9.

3

Christopher Taylor, ‘Medieval Market Grants and Village Morphology’, Landscape History, 4 (1982), 21–28. 4

For example, Christopher Dyer, ‘The Past, the Present and the Future in Medieval Rural History’, Rural History, 1 (1990), 37–50; Carenza Lewis, Patrick Mitchell-Fox, and Christopher Dyer, Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 26–27, 235–38. 5

Martin Biddle, ‘Towns’, in The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. by David Wilson (London: Methuen, 1976), pp. 99–150 (pp. 127, 141). 6

Grenville Astill, ‘Archaeology and the Smaller Medieval Town’, Urban History Yearbook (1985), 46–53 (p. 48); we also recognize that many new towns had several plan units which were created at different times: David Palliser, Terry Slater, and Patricia Dennison, ‘The Topography of Towns 600–1300’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, ed. by David M. Palliser, Peter Clark, and Martin J. Daunton, 3 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), I: 600–1540, pp. 153–86 (pp. 161–67).

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The pace of urbanization continues to be debated for the critical period of the ninth and tenth centuries — between a short and long chronology (at least for the south). With the short chronology the creation of the burhs was seen as a townplanning exercise which was integral with Alfred’s (and his immediate successors’) scheme of defence. This interpretation also assumes that the burhs were a means to articulate a market economy which affected all sections of society and which continued to develop for the rest of the Middle Ages.7 Those who prefer a long chronology remain impressed by the political and defensive characteristics of the burhs, but are unconvinced by their economic importance. The archaeological evidence for densely occupied and economically diverse burhs does not occur until the late tenth or early eleventh centuries — at least a century after the initial foundation of these settlements.8 Two related issues follow from this latter interpretation. Firstly, it suggests that the burhs could not perform a significant function partly because they were (royally) superimposed on a settlement pattern that already had an efficient exchange system and there was no clear advantage in adding to it. Secondly, the high royal and aristocratic involvement in providing and supplying the garrisons for the burhs could have meant that the existing mechanisms of estate provision were used and so the burhs had little impact on the way the local economy was organized for at least another century. The implications for the countryside are significant: the short chronology would allow for an intensification of rural resources during the ninth century and could accommodate Palliser’s proposal that such changes were urban led. The long chronology, however, could delay the need for change in the countryside until the late tenth/early eleventh century because the burhs would have had little impact on the way goods were drawn from or circulated within the rural areas. For the northern half of the country, however, urbanization probably occurred during the ninth century and so we would expect evidence for rural change during that time, although there is a tendency to date nucleation later than for the south, that is, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

7

Biddle, ‘Towns’, pp. 120–34; Daniel G. Russo, Town Origins and Development in Early England, c. 400–900 AD (Westport: Greenwood, 1998), pp. 193–231. 8

David A. Hinton, ‘The Large Towns, 600–1300’, in Cambridge Urban History of Britain, I, 217–43 (p. 226); Grenville Astill, ‘General Survey 600–1300’, in Cambridge Urban History of Britain, I, 27–49 (pp. 34–42); Grenville Astill, ‘Community, Identity and the Later Anglo-Saxon Town: The Case of Southern England’, in People and Space in the Middle Ages, 300–1300, ed. by Wendy Davies, Guy Halsall, and Andrew Reynolds, Studies in the Early Middle Ages, 15 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), pp. 233–54 (pp. 240–50).

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Similar issues may affect the chronology of rural landscape change. Between the 1970s and 1990s there was a preference for a long chronology of rural settlement that ranged from the ninth to the twelfth or thirteenth centuries.9 The timespan was partly used to accommodate regional differences. The identification of planned villages in Durham, essentially using a retrogressive analysis (and then recognized elsewhere), for example, was placed in a documentary context of the eleventh or twelfth century, perhaps most often with the Harrowing of the North.10 The long chronology could also accommodate the development of dispersed settlement, largely seen as occurring in the twelfth century. Within the long time period proposed discussion was essentially centred on village formation as taking place at one particular time, as one stage in a sequence of settlement development — the ‘village moment’.11 Village formation as a single event naturally predisposes us to relate the occasion to a particular documented period or occasion. For some parts of the country it is common to associate village development with the tenurial changes that occurred as a consequence of the Norman Conquest.12 Moving backwards in time, the ninth and tenth centuries are seen as a particularly auspicious time for a change in rural settlement, particularly in the south. Fragmentation of the large federated — ‘multiple’ — estates occurred through a series of land grants to the (burgeoning) lesser nobility who had previously lived and been provided for as part of a magnate’s household. Ownership and the necessity of making more intensive use of their small estates may have resulted in thegns making increased demands on the peasantry. From our point of view, such developments could have produced a significant change in the settlement pattern, in particular the creation of new ‘manorial’ centres and associated villages. Another element of this new landscape was often

9 Tom Williamson, Shaping Medieval Landscapes: Settlement, Society, Environment (Macclesfield: Windgather, 2003), p. 14. 10

For further information about the retrogressive approach, see Stephen Rippon, Historic Landscape Analysis: Deciphering the Countryside (York: Council for British Archaeology, 2004); Brian Roberts, ‘Village Plans in Co. Durham: A Preliminary Statement’, Medieval Archaeology, 16 (1972), 33–56. 11

Anthony Brown and Christopher Taylor, ‘The Origins of Dispersed Settlement: Some Results from Fieldwork in Bedfordshire’, Landscape History, 11 (1989), 60–81; Christopher Taylor, ‘Nucleated Settlement: A View from the Frontier’, Landscape History, 24 (2002), 53–71. 12

Rosamund Faith, The English Peasantry and the Growth of Lordship (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1997), pp. 224–44; Susan Oosthuizen, ‘Medieval Settlement Relocation in West Cambridgeshire: Three Case Studies’, Landscape History, 19 (1997), 43–55.

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the proprietary chapel which owed its inception to the parallel fragmentation of the minsters’ parochia, often leading to the development of parish churches.13 The case for the importance of the later Saxon period for settlement redefinition is strengthened by place-name and charter evidence, which indicates a tenth-century origin for some open fields.14 Environmental evidence for increased cultivation during the later Saxon period in the upper Thames and Cotswold region could reflect such settlement and field changes.15 More recently an increased prominence has been given to the eighth century as the period when critical settlement change occurred. The period has been long known for settlement relocation — a shift — that marked the end of the early Anglo-Saxon settlement pattern.16 But the Northamptonshire material has been used to argue for nucleation starting as early as the seventh or eighth century, accompanied by the laying out of long fields.17 In nearby Whittlewood an alternative sequence sees the eighth century as the time when a new pattern of dispersed settlement was created, and in the course of the ninth and tenth centuries some hamlets might have disappeared, but others grew to become nucleated settlements.18 As Williamson has noted, if the ‘early’ and ‘quick’ scheme for nucleation is adopted, then villages were created within the framework of the multiple estates and therefore existed before the estates’ fragmentation in the later Saxon period.19 However, we do now recognize that estates broke up and re-formed throughout

13

Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 26–35; Faith, The English Peasantry, pp. 153–77. 14

Harold Fox, ‘Approaches to the Adoption of the Midland System’, in The Origins of Openfield Agriculture, ed. by Trevor Rowley (London: Croom Helm, 1981), pp. 64–111. 15

Mark Robinson and David R. P. Wilkinson, ‘The “Oxenford”: Detailed Studies of the Thames Crossing in St Aldates’, in Oxford before the University: The Late Saxon and Norman Archaeology of the Thames Crossing, the Defences and the Town, ed. by Anne Dodd (Oxford: Oxford University, 2003), pp. 65–134 (pp. 79–81). 16

Helena Hamerow, Early Medieval Settlements: The Archaeology of Rural Communities in North-West Europe 400–900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 121–24. 17

Anthony Brown and Glen Foard, ‘The Saxon Landscape: A Regional Perspective’, in The Archaeology of Landscape: Studies Presented to Christopher Taylor, ed. by Paul Everson and Tom Williamson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), pp. 67–94. 18

Richard Jones and Mark Page, Medieval Villages in an English Landscape: Beginnings and Ends (Macclesfield: Windgather, 2006), pp. 79–91. 19

Williamson, Shaping Medieval Landscapes, p. 68.

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the Middle Ages, a phenomenon increasingly acknowledged in the continued continental debate about the feudal revolution.20 The eighth century is also now seen as a time of large-scale landscape change. Earthwork and cartographic analysis demonstrates the creation of a large field system that extended along the length of the Bourn valley in Cambridgeshire, with continuous headlands of pasture which allowed access to the valley’s arable. These headlands were in effect narrow commons which allowed animal husbandry alongside cereal cultivation.21 Environmental evidence also demonstrates a similar major change in Devon, where it is argued that a system of convertible husbandry originated in about the eighth century and set the pattern of fields and settlements for the rest of the Middle Ages.22 Some of the excavated settlements regarded as anomalous because of their longevity, such as Catholme, should be seen in the context of such large-scale landscape change. Catholme and Yarnton were probably keyed into major communication routes from at least the eighth century, and at Goltho the orientation of the Middle Saxon enclosures appears to have been perpetuated in the plan of the later medieval village. Such developments should also be seen in the context of the enclosing of settlements which seems to start in the seventh century.23 Particular environmental niches, such as the Upper Tees valley or the Fenland, begin to be exploited from the eighth century.24 It is also

20 Dawn Hadley, ‘Multiple Estates and the Origins of the Manorial Structure of the Northern Danelaw’, Journal of Historical Geography, 22 (1996), 3–15: Paul Fouracre, ‘Marmoutier: Familia versus Family. The Relations between Monastery and Serfs in Eleventh-Century North-West France’, in People and Space in the Middle Ages, ed. by Davies, Halsall, and Reynolds, pp. 255–73 (pp. 256–59, 270–73). 21 Susan Oosthuizen, Landscapes Decoded: The Origins and Development of Cambridgeshire’s Medieval Fields (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2006), pp. 91–113. 22

Stephen Rippon, ‘Emerging Regional Variation in Historic Landscape Character: The Possible Significance of the “Long Eighth Century”’, in Medieval Landscapes, ed. by Mark Gardiner and Stephen Rippon (Macclesfield: Windgather, 2007), pp. 105–21. 23

Andrew Reynolds, ‘Boundaries and Settlements in Later Sixth- to Eleventh-Century England’, Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History, 12 (2003), 98–136. 24

Dennis Coggins, Kenneth Fairless, and Colleen Batey, ‘Simy Folds: An Early Medieval Settlement Site in Upper Teesdale’, Medieval Archaeology, 27 (1983), 1–27; Dennis Coggins, ‘Simy Folds: Twenty Years On’, in Land, Sea and Home: Settlement in the Viking Period, ed. by John Hines, Alan Lane, and Mark Redknap (Leeds: Maney, 2004), pp. 325–34; Philip Hayes, ‘Roman to Saxon in the South Lincolnshire Fens’, Antiquity, 62 (1988), 321–26.

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about this time that Roberts and Wrathmell see the origin of their central province with its distinctive land use and nucleated settlement.25 This short chronology throws up issues which will have to be confronted: the possibility that villages existed within multiple estates; that some settlement patterns had a greater continuity than previously suspected; and a scheme of settlement that was less strongly related to the development of field systems. Much was happening in the eighth-century countryside, although some of the evidence is part of a sequence that is only relatively, rather than absolutely, dated. Nevertheless, Moreland emphasizes the increased agricultural and industrial production; setting it in the context of the development of trading and in particular the wics, he argues the eighth century was key for the socio-economic development of the country.26 Our attention has been drawn to the importance of the eighth century, but it has not improved upon the explanations for settlement change — population growth, the increased penetration of the market, and state development remain the preferred options. However, are they as appropriate for the eighth as the succeeding centuries? The eighth and early ninth century, however, has good evidence for early medieval exchange. We have the wics as centres of production that relate to similar trading sites across the Channel and into the Baltic; they are assumed to have drawn on the resources of their hinterlands, and these were supplied from subsidiary collection, consumption, and production points such as royal or monastic estate centres. Whereas this two-part hierarchy of exchange was originally based mainly on documentary evidence, the ‘productive’ sites now give us the archaeological counterpart to the wics.27 Their function and character continue to be discussed, but the preference seems to be for fairgrounds and that a significant proportion were attached to, or controlled by, local monasteries.28 How did this exchange work, and what was its nature? We are no nearer a resolution to this issue now than we were thirty years ago. The formalist view essentially sees a full commercial system operating at this time: the wics were complex markets

25

Brian Roberts and Stuart Wrathmell, Region and Place: A Study of English Rural Settlement (London: English Heritage, 2002), pp. 134–46. 26

John Moreland, ‘The Significance of Production in Eighth-Century England’, in The Long Eighth Century, ed. by Ian Hansen and Chris Wickham (Leiden: Brill, 2000), pp. 69–104 (pp. 87–98). 27 28

Astill, ‘General Survey 600–1300’, pp. 32–34.

Tim Pestell and Katherina Ulmschneider, ‘Introduction’, in Markets in Early Medieval Europe: Trading and ‘Productive’ Sites, 650–850, ed. by Tim Pestell and Katherina Ulmschneider (Macclesfield: Windgather, 2003), pp. 1–11.

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that were supplied by commodities obtained by buying and selling at the smaller marketplaces such as the productive sites.29 The vast amount of coinage, particularly the series of secondary sceattas (the coin-type which circulated c. 710–c. 740), has been interpreted as a currency that articulated this trading system. If this were the case, then there was not a great deal of concern for a standardized coin, for there is a great variety of sceatta designs at the same time, including a significant proportion (c. 20 per cent) of Frisian issues.30 An alternative, substantivist approach would see the economy generally and exchange in particular as part of the social fabric of early medieval society, and that such exchange was part of the mechanism for reproducing and reinforcing its social structure. Renders and tribute were the main reasons why commodities were gathered at particular places and were exchanged for more portable and convenient forms of wealth.31 It is important to recognize the extent of regional difference here. The majority of the secondary sceattas have an eastern distribution, which may imply that those parts of the country preferred to use these coins. The productive sites also have a similar eastern distribution, even allowing for the fact that these may have had a range of functions.32 This variety also applies to the wics, not only in terms of the size of their potential catchments, but also in terms of how and what they were taking in and sending out.33 A further consideration is that the evidence for widespread exchange activity cannot be related to our information about the development of early English states. East Anglia was not apparently developing state structures in the eighth century; for that we have to go to the heartlands of Mercia, which is an area that has less sceatta coinage and very

29

John Maddicott, ‘Prosperity and Power in the Age of Bede and Beowulf’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 117 (2002), 49–71. 30

Michael Metcalf, Thrymsas and Sceattas in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 3 vols (London: Royal Numismatic Society and the Ashmolean Museum, 1993–94), III, 299, 315, 174; Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage: The Early Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 168, 150. 31

For a recent review and bibliography, see John Moreland, ‘Concepts of the Early Medieval Economy’, in The Long Eighth Century, ed. by Hansen and Wickham, pp. 1–34. 32

Mark Blackburn, ‘“Productive” Sites and the Pattern of Coin Loss in England, 600–1180’, in Markets in Early Medieval Europe, ed. by Pestell and Ulmschneider, pp. 20–36 (pp. 20–22). 33

Christopher Scull, ‘Urban Centres in Pre-Viking England?’, in The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective, ed. by John Hines (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1997), pp. 269–310; Ben Palmer, ‘The Hinterlands of Three Southern English emporia: Some Common Themes’, in Markets in Early Medieval Europe, ed. by Pestell and Ulmschneider, pp. 48–60.

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few productive sites.34 At present there is little geographic correlation between the evidence for economic and for political development. If so much was going on in the eighth century, what was happening in the rest of the proposed period for settlement change? One possibility is that change in settlement organization could have been in response to the continued and developing influence of the same stimuli: population growth and the market. There is, however, significant qualitative and quantitative variation in our settlement evidence which may require explanations other than population and commerce. Firstly, there is the coinage. Losses of single coins are usually regarded as the most accurate reflection of the coins that were in use at the time. The published histograms of medieval coin loss show two remarkable features. Firstly there is the very high loss rate in the first half of the eighth century, which essentially relates to the time when the sceattas circulated: this could be powerful evidence for the development of a monetary economy. But secondly, this is followed by a dramatic drop after 750 which remained at a relatively low level until 1180.35 The latter is particularly surprising because, pace the sometimes dislocating effects of Vikings, in the ninth and tenth centuries an increase in coin use would have been expected as a result of those developments mentioned at the beginning: the creation of the English state with its stable infrastructure, the major growth of towns from at least the tenth century, the intensification of production in the countryside, and the revision of the late tenth-century coinage. How can we explain these trends? On the face of it, the coinage does not reflect the convergence that occurred to produce the highly developed political and socioeconomic structure of late Anglo-Saxon England and which is normally seen as steadily, incrementally, coming into being between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Neither does the pattern support the idea of the eighth century being a period of intense commercialization. What happened after c. 750? Because patterns of coin loss are common to parts of northern Europe — in this case the early eighth-century peak, followed by the post-750 contraction and then the revision of the coinage — it is normal to relate them to the supply of silver.36 This does not necessarily explain the unsurpassed high peak to 750 and may suggest that common 34

Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400–800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 813–14. 35 36

Blackburn, ‘“Productive” Sites’, pp. 23–26.

For example, Mark Blackburn, ‘Coin Circulation in Germany During the Early Middle Ages: The Evidence of Single-finds’, in Fernhandel und Geldwirtschaft: Beiträge zum deutschen Münzwesen, ed. by B. Kluge (Mainz: Sigmaringen, 1993), pp. 37–54.

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European trends mask significant factors particular to countries which nevertheless produced a similar result. There is, for example, no major change or a sign of reduced activity coincident with the decline in coin use in the wics and the productive sites around the mid-eighth century — in fact, there is often more intense activity after 750. It is as if the level of exchange continued without the volume of coinage and that, in such circumstances, it is more appropriate to think in terms of an essentially redistributive rather than a market economy. Naylor’s analysis of the Yorkshire coinage, charting a changing emphasis from long-distance to more regional trade over the eighth and ninth centuries, may be relevant for other parts of the country and makes us aware of the possibility of how productive sites could change function within a relatively short timescale.37 Further reason to question a unilineal development of medieval exchange which reflected and perhaps influenced settlement development comes in the later ninth century. By then the coinage was royally controlled and foreign issues had been excluded, and regional variations had disappeared. While circulation had been reduced, overall coin distribution remained the same, which some have taken to indicate that the function of the coinage had not changed. Yet the composition of ninth- and tenth-century hoards, with considerably less coin and more pieces of silver, would suggest that the bullion value of the metal continued to be highly valued at this time. The reduced coin element in exchange may also be a response to the decline of long-distance trade — this after all is the time when the wics cease to function and we have yet to identify any potential successors.38 Archaeological evidence indicates that the previous exchange system was threatened, if not being dismantled. Like the emporia, many of the productive sites fail to continue beyond the mid-ninth century: in many cases the coin sequence stops before c. 850, but continued activity is indicated by later metalwork, reflecting perhaps the changed character of the hoards.39 The high-status settlement evidence tells a similar story — such sites as Flixborough show a dramatic decline in the amount and range of material culture, including imports, from the mid-ninth century.40 37

John Naylor, ‘The Circulation of Early-Medieval European Coinage: A Case Study from Yorkshire, c. 650–c. 867’, Medieval Archaeology, 51 (2007), 41–62. 38

Summarized (and in relation to the potential disruptions of the Vikings) in David Hinton, Gold and Gilt, Pots and Pins: Possessions and People in Medieval Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 116–40. 39 40

Blackburn, ‘“Productive” Sites’, pp. 28–35.

Christopher Loveluck, ‘Wealth, Status and Conspicuous Consumption and its Implications for Middle and Late Saxon Settlements’, in Image and Power in the Archaeology of Early Medieval

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Whatever happened to create this dearth in material culture on rural settlements, the pattern continued on such sites for the rest of the Middle Ages. Our economic information points to a major change in at least the exchange systems, and probably the countryside, after the later ninth century and that it was sufficiently widespread to have had a significant impact on settlement. The excavations of later Saxon settlements, although relatively few, show just such evidence for change. Springfield Lyons or Little Paxton, for example, were occupied between the ninth and eleventh centuries with no obvious successors. We also have those that shifted in the later Saxon period, such as Yarnton, and Shapwick, probably associated with a replanning of both the settlement and the surrounding landscape.41 The fieldwork evidence is also suggestive of similar processes at work — the recovery of small quantities of later Saxon pottery within present villages in the east midlands and the identification of later Saxon settlements that had been established over earlier field systems give the impression of planned villages in Cambridgeshire and, in the case of the Bourn valley, the fragmentation of the large field system and the creation of smaller territories with new nucleated settlements.42 An additional new form of contemporary settlement is the small groupings of houses which cluster around an expanse of wet ground, some of which develop into green settlements, and presumably share the pasture which became a community resource. The fact that some later Saxon churches were built on such greens suggest that they were community enterprises.43 A further characteristic of those later Saxon settlements excavated on a large scale on the gravels (Yarnton, Little Paxton, and Catholme) is that the settlement was surrounded by large enclosures with integrated trackways, reminiscent of later Europe: Essays in Honour of Rosemary Cramp, ed. by Helena Hamerow and Arthur MacGregor (Oxford: Oxbow, 2001), pp. 100–03 (pp. 78–130). 41

Susan Tyler and Hilary Major, ‘The Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery and Late Saxon Settlement at Springfield Lyons, Essex’, East Anglian Archaeology, 111 (2005), 163–78; Peter Addyman, ‘Late Saxon Settlements in the St Neots Area, Part 3’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 64 (1973), 45–99; Gill Hey, Yarnton: Saxon and Medieval Settlement and Landscape (Oxford: Oxford Archaeology, 2004), pp. 49–57; Michael Aston and Christopher Gerrard, ‘“Unique, Traditional and Charming”: The Shapwick Project, Somerset’, Antiquaries Journal, 79 (1999), 1–59 (pp. 27–29). 42

Lewis, Mitchell-Fox, and Dyer, Village, Hamlet and Field, pp. 94–96; Oosthuizen, ‘Medieval Settlement Relocation in West Cambridgeshire’; Oosthuizen, Landscapes Decoded, pp. 114–39. 43 Taylor, ‘Nucleated Settlement’, and see Susan Oosthuizen, ‘Medieval Greens and Moats in the Central Province’, Landscape History, 24 (2002), 73–88, for a useful discussion of the variations of greens; David Stocker and Paul Everson, Summoning St Michael: Early Romanesque Towers in Lincolnshire (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006), pp. 60–70.

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Iron-Age and Roman settlements.44 Such evidence should again encourage us to consider situations where field development (particularly open fields) occurred separately from that of the settlement. On the other hand, those who advocate an early date for nucleation recognize that the later Saxon period was also a time when there was a ‘great replanning’ of field systems, and this was also proposed in the Whittlewood project.45 Regional differences in land use and settlement, then, had become significant by at least the eighth century, but there was also major chronological variation and both factors make it difficult to continue with an evolutionary, uni-linear explanation of medieval settlement. We are now, for example, familiar with how dispersed settlement could develop a distinctive form of interrupted ‘rows’ or ‘ends’ that reflect the growth of settlements, and we also accept that such a pattern can accommodate shrinkage by the desertion of some homesteads.46 Yet we do not give such possibilities consideration with regards to villages until the later fourteenth century and beyond, when we are accustomed to the idea of amalgamated holdings. Before that, we prefer the idea that villages shifted and spread over fields. Yet one suspects that abandonment of holdings and shifting were processes that were common to all types of medieval settlement, but are easier to identify in one settlement form than the other. Just as we may have to accept there were many village moments in the sense that a particular form of settlement was chosen as appropriate in several environmental or chronological circumstances in the same region, so we also have to consider that, once formed, a settlement could undergo significant changes. Lewis’s analysis of the Wiltshire clay-vale settlement raises the possibility that medieval settlement underwent a cyclical development, to the extent that a settlement at one particular time should be regarded as a village, yet a generation or two later had experienced the abandonment of a sufficient number of households that it had become an interrupted row, dispersed settlement, perhaps later to return as 44 Addyman, ‘Late Saxon Settlements in the St Neots Area, Part 3’; Hey, Yarnton, pp. 1–20; Stuart Losco-Bradley and Gavin Kinsley, Catholme: An Anglo-Saxon Settlement on the Trent Gravels in Staffordshire (Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 2002), pp. 1–6, 28–31, 123–27. This might also apply to wold areas: Julian Richards, ‘Cottam: An Anglo-Scandinavian Settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds’, Archaeological Journal, 156 (1999), 1–111 (pp. 4–16, 86–100). 45

Brown and Foard, ‘The Saxon Landscape’; Jones and Page, Medieval Villages in an English Landscape, pp. 92–95. 46 Brown and Taylor, ‘Origins of Dispersed Settlement’, pp. 60–81; Christopher Dyer, Hanbury: Settlement and Society in a Woodland Landscape (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1991), pp. 36–43; Christopher Dyer, ‘Dispersed Settlements in Medieval England: A Case Study of Pendock, Worcestershire’, Medieval Archaeology, 34 (1990), 97–121 (pp. 107–13).

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a recognizable village.47 The lesson surely is that settlement change takes many forms, many of which are complex and cannot just be explained by ‘shifting’ because it is most often identified through fieldwork. We could pursue this idea of a settlement’s life cycle further. We have after all accepted the related idea that a building sequence on a particular holding may be related to the age of a particular tenant and his money-earning capacity.48 A close correlation existed between the life cycle of a family and its holding. Should we consider a similar cyclical development within a settlement that influences its character, a topic which some prehistorians have investigated to explain variation in settlement form and function?49 This also brings us closer to some of the current hypotheses for nucleation, which appear to acknowledge the complexity of the process and so are moving away from overarching, countrywide explanations. Instead regional or cultural explanations are proposed. For Williamson, the importance of geology and how farmers coped with intractable soils in order to deal with the demands of the agricultural cycle (particularly the ‘bottlenecks’) were the dominant influences over how and where people chose to live. This is a regional, and essentially environmental, perspective, which nevertheless offers a non-particularistic explanation.50 Cultural hypotheses have been used to explain the spread of the village rather than what caused its initial appearance. Clear ideas existed of what a proper village should look like, with neat rows and equally spaced houses (again replicated in later estate villages), and could be seen as an attractive cultural expression that would be emulated throughout the region.51 A similar case has been made for the way that towns adopted particular sets of borough laws, and perhaps even urban topographic arrangements.52 These approaches have the great merit that they could

47

Carenza Lewis, ‘Patterns and Processes in the Medieval Settlement of Wiltshire’, in The Medieval Landscape of Wessex, ed. by Michael Aston and Carenza Lewis (Oxford: Oxbow, 1994), pp. 171–94 (pp. 178–83). 48

Christopher Dyer, ‘English Peasant Buildings in the Later Middle Ages (1200–1500)’, Medieval Archaeology, 30 (1986), 19–45 (p. 42). 49

For example, Joanna Brück, ‘Houses, Lifecycles and Deposition on Middle Bronze Age Settlements in Southern England’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 65 (1999), 145–66. 50

Williamson, Shaping Medieval Landscapes, pp. 180–99.

51

Jones and Page, Medieval Villages in an English Landscape, pp. 101–04, 241–42; Lewis, Mitchell-Fox, and Dyer, Village, Hamlet and Field, pp. 227–42. 52

Christopher Dyer, ‘Medieval Farming and Technology: Conclusion’, in Medieval Farming and Technology: The Impact of Agricultural Change in Norwthwest Europe, ed. by Grenville Astill

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potentially explain an extended chronology of formation and the pronounced regional variation: the difficulty is how we might confirm these hypotheses. These ideas could be repeated as possible solutions for many years to come without any real advance being made, as indeed is the case in the debate about who initiated change in medieval society — lords or peasants? Much new information about the peasants’ role in the development of agricultural technologies has been accumulated, but the archaeological discussion does not seem to have moved on.53 We could defend ourselves by saying it is essentially a historical rather than an archaeological issue, or perhaps an issue expressed in historical terms. But the basic aim — to try to understand how change was initiated and achieved in societies — is a universal issue to which we should have an archaeological response. For the last twenty years at least there has been just such theoretical discussion in the wider archaeological world, known as the agency debate, which has largely been ignored by medieval archaeologists.54 Instead there is a tendency to compromise by assigning change to the ‘community’ — which may mean peasants acting on their own or in combination with the lord. While this may be true, it is not very satisfying because it rarely acknowledges how well-informed medieval historians have become about how communities worked.55 Often a community in action is most easily seen in the organization and the management of agricultural practices, such as regulating access to open fields in the case of villagers or areas of rough pasture for those who lived in hamlets. Fraternities and parish guilds remind us of the importance of the local church as another community focus.56 Most of this evidence comes from the later Middle Ages, and so we need to know when communities developed — was it continuous from the ninth century or an interrupted sequence? This poses difficulties for those interested in the origins of medieval settlement, but what is clear is that the people who and John Langdon, Technology and Change in History, 1 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 293–312 (p. 305). 53

For example, Medieval Farming and Technology, ed. by Astill and Langdon.

54

For example, Agency in Archaeology, ed. by Marcia-Anne Dobres and John Robb (London: Routledge, 2000), and for a medieval case study, Matthew H. Johnson, ‘Conceptions of Agency in Archaeological Interpretation’, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 8 (1989), 189–211. 55

For example, Susan Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900–1300 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Wendy Davies, Small Worlds: The Village Community in Early Medieval Brittany (London: Duckworth, 1988); Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages, pp. 383–518. 56

Christopher Dyer, ‘The English Medieval Village Community and its Decline’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), 407–29.

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constituted a community and took communal action did so in order to reaffirm and reinforce their identity. Would it be possible to move forward on the cultural ideas and the initiative debate by considering that the process of village creation was associated with the creation of an identity for those living in the region? This would have the advantage of placing the decision to create a village with those who stood most to gain from it. But how do we research this? Just as the initiative debate might be moved on by being theoretically aware, so might identity, a recent concern for both archaeologists and historians. Yet regional/cultural models usually accept the background influences of population and commercialization. Most reconstructions of demographic trends assume a steady growth from at least the eighth century to c. 1300, sometimes with an accelerated growth from the later eleventh century.57 The estimates of maximum population during the Roman, medieval, and post-medieval periods have a certain consistency, at about six to seven million, although based on different data of a highly variable quality. The common assumption is that such a population size was achieved by steady growth. Recently this assumption has been challenged. On the one hand an equivalence between Roman and medieval population levels has been qualified by the suggestion that the Roman population was as widely, but less densely, distributed across the countryside with a consequently less intensive effect on the use of the countryside.58 Langdon and Masschaele have also proposed a revision of population growth in the twelfth century: the real population upsurge occurred in the last two decades and the thirteenth century.59 This has a resonance with the thinking of that champion of a long chronology of medieval settlement change, Christopher Taylor. In articles which explore the relationship between dispersed settlement and villages in the east midlands and Lincolnshire, he comments on the significant increase in settlements which he dates to the later twelfth century. He goes on to argue that the notion of a steady demographic increase may be misguided and that a ‘population peak’ may have occurred in the later twelfth century (but ‘not sustained for very long’), and that a ‘society under demographic pressure’ responded by spawning new settlements which significantly changed the landscape.60 57

For example Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages, p. 235.

58

Brown and Foard, ‘The Saxon Landscape’, pp. 71–75.

59

John Langdon and James Masschaele, ‘Commercial Activity and Population Growth in Medieval England’, Past and Present, 190 (2006), 35–82. 60

For example, Brown and Taylor, ‘Origins of Dispersed Settlement’, p. 80; Paul Everson, Christopher Taylor, and Christopher Dunn, Change and Continuity: Rural Settlement in Northwest Lincolnshire (London: HMSO, 1991), pp. 9–35.

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Advocates of a short chronology agree that the main features of the rural landscape were firmly in place by the early thirteenth century when there is plentiful documentation, and that what survives for the previous century gives the impression that few major changes took place, but just ‘ongoing modifications’.61 This is, however, to ignore the extent and universality of the twelfth-century changes to the settlement pattern, particularly as they are mainly to be seen in the expansion of dispersed settlement, and especially in the foundation of many of these ‘ends’ over former fields.62 But this sequence has also been noted on the periphery of villages and is interpreted as the need to accommodate more people.63 But the new work on open fields could mean that the observed superimpositions relate not so much to settlement change but to adjustments made in the field system itself, which made some areas available for further occupation. While we mainly accept a late Saxon origin for some fields, we acknowledge that such fields underwent considerable change and may not have reached a form that was most efficient for the villagers until considerably later, even perhaps in the thirteenth century.64 The reinterpretation of the population curve and the identification of a horizon of new settlement, both of which focus on the later twelfth century, should make us ask what was happening in the rest of the twelfth century. It is a poorly documented period, and in order to write a socio-economic history it is often necessary to interpolate from Domesday and the better-documented thirteenth century. While the economic character of the twelfth century is different from the thirteenth, it is common to see trends that are best documented for the thirteenth century as characterizing the whole two hundred years.65 Archaeologists, for example, frequently characterize the time as one of colonization of the ‘marginal’ zones in the face of population increase and economic expansion. Yet we have, with the help of dendrochronological dating, identified the last two decades of the twelfth century as a period of significant change — the introduction of the pegged mortice, for example, facilitated the development of fully framed timber buildings; this allowed the development of multistoreyed structures 61

For example, Williamson, Shaping Medieval Landscapes, p. 6.

62

Brown and Taylor, ‘Origins of Dispersed Settlement’.

63

First noticed by Christopher Taylor, ‘Aspects of Mobility in Medieval and Later Times’, in The Effect of Man on the Landscape: The Lowland Zone, ed. by Susan Limbrey and John Evans (London: Council for British Archaeology, 1978), pp. 126–34. 64 65

Dyer, ‘Medieval Farming and Technology: Conclusion’, pp. 298–99.

Edward Miller, ‘England in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries: An Economic Contrast?’, Economic History Review, 24 (1971), 1–14.

THE LONG AND THE SHORT

27

that produced a distinctive form of urban architecture. At the same time there is a dramatic change in the ceramic industry, which sees an elaboration in the design and decoration of pottery and the increased use of ceramic roof tiles.66 Evidence for the rest of the twelfth century is, however, fugitive. Christopher Dyer has described the twelfth century as ‘retaining an air of mystery’, and this certainly holds for the archaeology.67 The issue is clearest in the urban economic evidence. The numismatic material shows a general shortage of coin, and this is usually related to the increased taxation of moneyers and of those recently made exempt from taxation; there was also a progressive reduction in the number of mints, from sixty-five in 1086 to twenty in the 1130s to nine in 1189. Moneyers were also probably engaged in general metalworking, and this connection may be significant in the light of the dearth of base-metal finds, including jewellery. It also marks the time when an urban-based ceramics industry had ceased. These indications might suggest a deindustrialization of towns. Less production and consumption and the low loss rate of coin could also point to a decrease in economic activity. Twelfth-century buildings are difficult to identify because the evidence consists of the fragmentary remains of earth-fast structures. There is a curious faltering in urban architecture: the timber-lined cellared buildings which were characteristic of later Saxon towns were not built after the later eleventh century, and most of the stone-cellared and vaulted buildings are dated a century later. This evidence should be placed against the impressive building campaigns that produced (or altered) a large number of cathedrals, castles, and palaces. Perhaps for most of the twelfth century the towns’ economy was essentially geared to providing for the needs of their institutional residents.68 Lack of evidence for continued consumption should also stimulate some research on the relationship between towns and the countryside — was there, for example, a decline in the supply of raw materials at this time? The excavated evidence from rural settlements gives us very little information about the twelfth century — the period is mostly represented by pottery rather than structural evidence. The dearth is not usually commented upon because of the past concern about the absence of pre-twelfth-century material and what that implied for the process of nucleation.69 66

Summarized in Grenville Astill, ‘An Archaeological Approach to the Development of Agricultural Technologies in Medieval England’, in Medieval Farming and Technology, ed. by Astill and Langdon, pp. 193–224 (pp. 204–14). 67

Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages, p. 103.

68

Astill, ‘General Survey 600–1300’, pp. 45–46; Hinton, ‘The Large Towns, 600–1300’, p. 235.

69

For example, Christopher Taylor, Village and Farmstead: A History of Rural Settlement in England (London: George Philip, 1983), pp. 126–27.

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As with the towns, evidence for rural twelfth-century structures is fragmentary, and very few plans of buildings have been recovered. The remains are usually postholes (which some reports concede could be pits, for example Wythemail) which are usually taken to indicate earth-fast structures.70 While timberslots are sometimes recorded, it is noticeable that the repertory of building techniques used in the later Saxon period is not well represented in the twelfth century.71 Why was there an apparent decline in building expertise in the twelfth century, and what were the implications for the longevity of buildings? Debate about the durability of the medieval peasant house has largely focused on the more obvious remains of the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and more attention has been paid to the shift from earth-fast structures to timber buildings resting on dwarf-stone walls, which are thought to be fully framed. It is time to reconsider the significance of such an apparent sharp break in construction techniques and view it in the context of the eleventh- and twelfth-century evidence.72 The ways chosen here to interpret the twelfth century cannot be reconciled with a view of a steadily increasing population that stimulates a commensurate increase in economic activity. It does, however, point to the importance of the last few decades of the century as a period of concentrated change that continues into the thirteenth century. It should also remind us that while a transformation may have occurred in the eighth century, the countryside experienced other periods of similarly profound change later on, for example in the later ninth and tenth centuries as well as post-1180. In these circumstances, we should probably continue to think in terms of a long chronology for rural change in medieval England, but punctuated with periods of acceleration and stasis that could vary markedly from region to region.

70

John Hurst and Gillian Hurst, ‘Excavations at the Medieval Village of Wythemail’, Medieval Archaeology, 13 (1969), 167–203 (pp. 173–74). 71

Anne Marshall and Gary Marshall, ‘Differentiation, Change and Continuity in Anglo-Saxon Buildings’, Archaeological Journal, 150 (1993), 366–402. 72

Stuart Wrathmell, ‘Peasant Houses, Farmsteads and Villages in North-East England’, in The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies Dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, ed. by Michael Aston, David Austin, and Christopher Dyer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 247–68 (pp. 258–59). And see his ‘Some General Hypotheses on English Medieval Peasant House Construction from the 7th to the 17th Centuries’, Ruralia, 4, Památky archaeologické, Supplementum 15 (2002), 175–86, where he argues that it is possible to identify peasant buildings of eleventh- and twelfth-century date that had been incorporated in later houses.

L ORDS AND W ASTES Harold Fox

T

his paper argues, with a case study of Dartmoor, that medieval wastes were not ‘waste’ in some of the dictionary senses of the word, ‘useless remains’ or ‘superfluous’.1 The waste of a manor was valuable to tenant and landlord alike. Tenants used wastes for hunting and gathering of a large variety of animate and inanimate things (birds’ eggs, rushes, bracken, stones) which sustained a few and enriched the quality of life of many, and they used the herbage for pasturing their livestock. The second argument is that lords looked favourably upon wastes and sought to profit from them and to manorialize them to a degree. A new Norman lord riding out for the first time to evaluate his confiscated Saxon property on the edge of Dartmoor, seeing the bare, swelling slopes of the moors, did not regard them with despair, nor with awe as a later age was to do, but enquired at once about the profit which could be drawn from them. Earlier, before the Norman Conquest, generations of lords with Dartmoor properties had devised programmes for the economic development of wastes, just as their counterparts in other parts of England where rough land was scarce were developing their resources in different ways.2 Lords living in the surroundings of Dartmoor made profits by

1

A draft of this chapter was found among Professor Fox’s papers after his death and has been included here by the kind permission of his estate and family. Other than the footnotes, which were embryonic, the draft appeared to be nearly complete and has been printed with only a few alterations, mostly of typographical errors. The footnotes have been finished by Matthew Tompkins (who is solely responsible for any errors they contain) though uncertainty as to the source which Professor Fox intended to cite is indicated in notes 15 and 28. 2

For example, by increasing the size of their demesnes and formalizing the labour services of their tenants.

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moderately manorializing the customary practices of hunting, gathering, and grazing which took place on their wastes.3 The arena studied here is the great waste of Dartmoor at the centre of the shire of Devon. In the Middle Ages the acreage of waste on Dartmoor (hereafter usually called ‘moor’) was over one hundred thousand acres. It reaches to over fifteen hundred feet in some places and to over two thousand feet in a few. The underlying geology is made up of granite and related rocks, the subsoil is thin, and the region catches the wet westerlies: Charles Stuart reputedly said that ‘the only thing that is certain in this world is that it is raining in Tavistock’, a town just to the west of Dartmoor.4 All of this may make Dartmoor sound as unattractive as it seemed to the outsider William Camden, who can only have seen it from afar, when he described the region as a ‘useless waste’ (vasta inutilis).5 Those who lived near it looked at it with more affection, calling the region ‘The Moor’: on his road map of the late seventeenth century, John Ogilby, having spoken to local inhabitants, wrote ‘to Dartmore vulgo to the Moor’, referring to one of the lanes leading to Dartmoor,6 and names such as Widecome in the Moor or Buckland in the Moor were already in place in the Middle Ages (Whithecombe in the More, 1326; Bokelaund in the More, 1318).7 Affection was no doubt engendered by knowledge that there was profit and pleasure and enhanced quality of life to be had from this apparently rather bleak region. In terms of ownership, the central, inner, part of Dartmoor (that part which lay in the parish of Lydford) was royal, being in the hands of the Crown or the Duchy of Cornwall for most of the period after the Norman Conquest until the present day. I have examined some aspects of economic development on the central, inner moorlands in another paper,8 so I shall here concentrate on the wastes which surrounded the centre, the outer moors. A few comments will be made about the central moor 3

See later in this chapter.

4

Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1836, p. 519; A. Mee, Devon (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1938), p. 412. 5

William Camden, Britannia (London, 1586).

6

John Ogilby, Britannia . . . a Geographical and Historical Description of the Principal Roads thereof . . . ([n.p.], 1675), plate 29, ‘Road From London to the Lands End’. 7

J. E. B. Gover, A. Mawer, and F. M. Stenton, The Place-names of Devon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1931–32), pp. 525–26. 8

H. S. A. Fox, ‘Medieval Dartmoor as Seen through the Account Rolls’, Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings, 52 (1994), 149–72, shortly to be amplified in Fox, Alluring Uplands: Transhumance and Pastoral Management on Dartmoor, 950–1550 (forthcoming).

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where appropriate. There is no doubt that, from the tenth or eleventh century onwards, each of the outer moors was in the hands of the lord of the manor which it adjoined. Before that the outer moors were public pastures, open for grazing by all of the people of Devon: all of Devon enjoyed common rights for their animals on the central moor until relatively recent times, and these rights were probably residual, having once been exercised over the total area of the moorlands, central and outer.9 Chris Wickham has argued that, in the post-Roman centuries, uncultivated lands tended to fall to kings who, as benefactors of the people, allowed them to become public pastures.10 This is probably what happened on Dartmoor, the kings being, first, those of the Celtic Kingdom of Dumnonia and later those of Wessex who succeeded them. Erosion of the public pastures on the fringes (which became the outer moors) began in the late Saxon period, discussed later, as lords of manors bordering the moorlands appropriated them to their own uses.

Seigneurial Soil Lords living around Dartmoor prized and protected their wastes. The terminology which they used in their private documents indicates that each perceived his moor as very much his own. Thus in 1395–96 the Abbot of Buckfast’s officials described Brent Moor as ‘the moor of the lord’ (moram domini), and in 1489–90 the same words were used by the officials of the Courtenay family to describe the moor belonging to the manor of Plympton.11 A tenant of the manor of Shaugh Prior was charged before the lord’s court for making a granite millstone from the lord’s terra (‘land’) of Shaugh Moor: this word describes the very fundament or bedrock of one of the outer moors as strictly seigneurial property.12 Medieval manorial surveys describe the outer moors as in the ownership of respective lords. At Gidleigh the moorland was valued at 6s. 8d. in an extent of 1316; in 1348, Sibyl Dauney, lady of Cornwood manor, was given as her dower one third of all the vastum of

9

Discussed more fully in Fox, Alluring Uplands. Exmoor was similarly divided into a central royal forest and an outer ring of manorial commons; M. Siraut, Exmoor: The Making of an English Upland (Chichester: Phillimore, 2009), Fig. 54 and pp. 37, 74–75. 10

Chris Wickham, Land and Power: Studies in Italian and European Social History, 400–1200 (London: British School at Rome, 1994), pp. 158–59. 11 12

Devon Record Office (Exeter, hereafter DRO), 123M/E/1024; DRO, C.R . 496.

West Devon Record Office (Plymouth), 70/53, and see H. S. A. Fox, ‘The Millstone Makers of Medieval Dartmoor’, Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries, 37 (1994), 153–57 (p. 154).

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Cornwood.13 Surveys of Bovey Tracy in 1326 and of South Tawton in 1439 describe the moors in these manors as their lord’s terra montanea or pastura montanea (‘hilly land’ or ‘hilly pasture’) and attribute a value to them.14 Lying behind these valuations were the many profits which lords might make from their shares of the outer moors, a topic dealt with in more detail later: profits from the herbage which was grazed and from other commodities which were gathered, such as turves and granite. Post-medieval references from local documentary sources are equally emphatic in stating that each of the outer moors belonged to a particular manorial lord. From court rolls we find that, in May 1569 on Walkhampton Common near Pew Tor, a man was accused of cutting turves without right and the court presentment described this act as destroying the very soil (terra) of the lord of the manor. In 1562 the steward at South Brent read out before the court the names of a number of men, outsiders, who had allowed their livestock to stray onto his moors, and he seemed especially concerned, in a laboured statement, to spell out his lord’s ownership: the men had ‘unjustly occupied the pasture of the lord of this manor at Brentmore [. . .] with their animals where they have no grazing by right, to the grave damage of the lord of this manor’.15 Post-medieval manorial surveys paint the same picture: in the sixteenth century Brent Moor was described as ‘an entire common of pasture belonging to this manor [. . .] in summer very fruitful and containeth by estimation 3000 acres’ while a survey of Natsworthy ends with the statement that ‘there belongeth to this manor the wast called Idetor doune [Haytor Down] whereupon certen tennants customery [. . .] have comen of pasture’.16 The Crown (lord of the central moor and therefore near neighbour to the owners of the outer moors) can be seen from time to time confirming the private ownership of the manorial wastes which surrounded the inner royal core. A series of royal writs in the 1220s commanded the sheriff of Devon, William Brewer, to permit the custodians of the manors of Plympton and Okehampton and the owner

13

The National Archives: Public Record Office (hereafter TNA: PRO), C 134/46/23 (Inquisition post Mortem of William le Prouz, 9 Edw II), printed in Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem Preserved in the Public Record Office, vol. V : Edward II, 1307–1316 (London: HMSO, 1908), p. 368; TNA: PRO, C 135/88/2, printed in Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem Preserved in the Public Record Office, vol. IX : Edward III, 1347–1352 (London: HMSO, 1916), p. 67. 14

TNA: PRO, C 134/99 and C 139/194. Another survey of Bovey Tracey, from 1353, also refers to pastura montanea: C 145/169/4, m. 8. 15

The reference for the Walkhampton court rolls has not been ascertained; that for the South Brent rolls is DRO, 123M/M1. 16

DRO, 123M/E31 and Z17/3/19, fol. ciii.

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of South Tawton to have rights over their own moors as they had them in the time of King John ‘before the war between him and his barons’.17 The wording and purpose of these writs is not always too clear, but they certainly refer to the outer moors and to profits to be had from grazing livestock upon them, for the writs were sent out in April and May at the beginning of the summer pasturing season. Nor is the reason for the writs clear, because it will be shown later that lords of moor-side manors were already claiming ownership of the outer moors in the period before the Norman Conquest; but it may be suggested that these royal commands were requested by the surrounding lords to make them quite certain of their rights of ownership of moorland up to and as far as the boundary of the central moor. It could well have been that they feared that a new king might try to extend his jurisdiction into their lands and that they secured the writs to make doubly sure of their own rights. In 1359 the Council of the Black Prince, not only Prince of Wales but also Duke of Cornwall and thus lord of the central moor, described Walkhampton’s moors (property of Buckland Abbey) as ‘the abbot’s soil’.18 Later documents of royal provenance also confirm the outer moors to their respective lords, a commission ordered by the Privy Council of Henry VIII finding that South Holne Moor, Buckfast Moor, and Brent Moor were integral parts of the manors after which they were named; the same King’s Augmentation Office granted out to John Slanning and Anthony Butler the manor of Walkhampton (previously in monastic hands) together with ‘all the furzes, heaths, moors, marshes, commons, ways and wastegrounds’ belonging to it, a good description in common form of the area known today as Walkhampton Common.19 Statements about the ownership of the outer moors after the Norman Conquest have been given in some detail here because of their intrinsic interest and because claims have been made from the sixteenth century onwards for Crown ownership of the soil of the outer moors. At their most blatant such claims contradicted both local knowledge and rights of lordship and also the Crown’s own information and orders. In the reign of Henry VIII a royal commission found that certain of the outer moors were private manorial property and his administrators 17

S. Moore and P. Birkett, A Short History of the Rights of Common upon the Forest of Dartmoor & the Commons of Devon (Plymouth: Dartmoor Preservation Association, 1890), pp. xviii–xix, 3–4. 18 The Black Prince’s Register, ed. by M. C. B. Dawes, vol. II (London: Record Commission, 1931), p.153, abstracted in Moore and Birkett, Short History, pp. 23–24. 19

TNA: PRO, SC 12/25/31, abstracted in Moore and Birkett, Short History, p. 43; ibid., p. 118.

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were granting others (formerly monastic) into private hands. But just at the same time an advisor was urging that ‘no lorde nor gentylman nor other’ could have any right to or upon the outer moors.20 This claim is found nowhere else, it contradicts all other statements on ownership, and it is, put simply, wrong — which is unfortunate because it has formed part of the ‘evidence’ on which many modern accounts of Dartmoor are based. If the claim to Crown ownership is reduced very considerably to Crown interest in the outer moors, then there are several very good reasons to explain it. The earliest documents cited above come from the thirteenth century, but there is evidence before then to show that each of the outer moors belonged to a particular lord. From Meavy we have a charter of 1031 by which Canute granted half a hide at Maewi to Atheric, minister. Inspection of the description of the boundary of the property of Meavy clearly shows that it already had a slice of the moorlands, in the vicinity of Ringmoor Down.21 At about the same time as the charter for Meavy was being drawn up, a Bishop of Exeter was making an outrageously large claim to the soil of some of the outer moorlands. Clearly, division of these between manors, as at Meavy, was not yet complete everywhere on the fringes of Dartmoor. The Bishop’s claim is contained in an early eleventh-century document which has confused and bemused many scholars, but which, to me, is clear enough. It is a simple recital of a perambulation of a boundary, not a dispositive charter which granted or disposed anything away.22 Bishops of Exeter held the manor of Ashburton on the southern flanks of Dartmoor and the adjacent manor of Bickington. The boundary as perambulated in the early eleventh-century document begins and ends in the vicinity of these two places, with clear references to the minute River Ashburn which gave Ashburton its name, to the Rivers Dart and Webburn to the west, and to Ramshorn Down in Bickington, its dark downward-turned summit being shaped like a ram’s horn when seen from the east. Few of the other boundary marks can be pinned down in this way, the exceptions being on hyfan treow and ‘seven stones’ (a reference to a Bronze Age stone circle or row); the former is Heatree in the present-day parish of Manaton, which appears in later medieval records as Hevitree; the latter is nearby Soussons in the same parish, which was Soueston in the middle of the fifteenth 20

Moore and Birkett, Short History, pp. 164–66.

21

Analysed in Fox, Alluring Uplands, ch. 6. For the text of the charter, see D. Hooke, PreConquest Charter-Bounds of Devon and Cornwall (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1994), pp. 196–200. 22

and 6.

Hooke, Pre-Conquest Charter-Bounds, pp. 217–24, and see Fox, Alluring Uplands, chs 4

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century.23 Other boundary points include a marsh with willows, a calf’s down, a barrow containing treasure, a longstone (another prehistoric feature), a tor, a high down, a rough hill or barrow, and a gorse-covered enclosure or hill. There is little point in trying to locate these recurring features of Dartmoor’s landscape, so we should concentrate on Heatree and Soussons in Manaton parish. There was no episcopal land in this parish in 1086, so it is clear that what the Bishop was doing was staking a claim to a huge slice of the outer moors extending to around seven or eight miles from his base at Ashburton. Previous commentators on the document discussed above have made efforts to reconstruct on the ground the boundary which it describes. They note that the bounds do not correspond with the present-day limits of the parishes which lie north of Ashburton. The editors of The Place-names of Devon wrote that the perambulation ‘does not follow, so far as can be determined, the present parish boundaries’, while Susan Pearce states that the bounds ‘do not relate to the parish boundaries’. She further suggests, most interestingly, that the territory which was perambulated in the north was ‘rather ephemeral’ and ‘soon broke up’,24 and I think that we can extend that suggestion, with a slight change in emphasis, by making the following proposal about the nature of and reason for the eleventh-century episcopal perambulation: to the south near Ashburton it recorded the known and established boundaries of episcopal lands, but to the north it simply recorded a claim to moorland. Whereas some of the outer moors were already appropriated to their respective manors in the early eleventh century, a few others were still to be fought for. This applies to Manaton, the object of the Bishop’s pretensions, a significant name because the first element comes from Old-English maene meaning ‘common’.25 In the early Saxon period in Devon, that is the eighth and ninth centuries, all of what were later to become the outer moors, the private land of lords, had once been common. Clearly, the moors of Manaton were the last to enjoy this common status, which is the only way in which we can explain the name. In the early eleventh century a Bishop of Exeter, realizing that there was common land to be grabbed here, made his perambulation. Possibly he took his claim to the county court, though we cannot be certain of this. What is clear, however, is that the claim never came to any fruition, because there is no evidence of episcopal ownership of

23

Gover, Mawer, and Stenton, Place-names of Devon, p. 482.

24

Gover, Mawer, and Stenton, Place-names of Devon, p. 463; Susan Pearce. ‘Early Medieval Land Use on Dartmoor and its Flanks’, Devon Archaeology, 3 (1985), 13–19 (pp. 17, 19). 25

Gover, Mawer, and Stenton, Place-names of Devon, p. 481.

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land in Manaton in Domesday Book26 or in any later sources. A powerful lord was intent upon developing his land, but the power of the people prevailed.

Wastes Manorialized There are two strands in the evidence for the manorialization of the wastes which formed the outer moorlands of Dartmoor. The first is a negative one: lords were not able to manorialize these moorlands totally, because the customary rights of their tenants were strongly entrenched. The second is that, having allowed for those customary rights, lords took profits from outsiders who wished to use their moors. Lords conceded and confirmed the customary rights of free tenants on their moors. In 1277 the Abbot and Convent of Buckfast confirmed to Geoffrey de Bulehornston all the land which he held at Bullhornstone — a farm close to the swelling moorland slopes of Corringdon Ball — and a reclamation made in the previous generation by Geoffrey’s father, confirming also ‘common of pasture in the moor and waste of the monks for all of his animals’. In an early decade of the thirteenth century the lord of Cornwood, Guy de Bryttavilla, granted a holding at Cholwich — perched on the very edge of the moorland — together with ‘common of pasture in all my moor and waste belonging to my demesne of Cornwood’.27 From the point of view of rights of common, medieval charters show that tenants had a considerable degree of freedom. Livestock of free tenants were allowed to roam throughout the lord’s moor, with no restriction in terms of space; no fee was paid for them; they could graze throughout the year, a reference perhaps to sheep which were kept on the outer moors during the winter along with other types of livestock turned out on a daily basis if the weather was clement; and these privileges belonged to ‘all the animals’ of a tenant, though usually with the exception of goats. Free tenants no doubt regarded the grants of common pasture recorded in these documents as confirmations of their long-established rights and customs on the outer moors while lords, in issuing these charters, saw themselves both as confirming their basic right to the soil and herbage of the moors and at the same time exercising good lordship in allowing their tenants access to them, because a tenant without livestock would not be good potential as a payer of rent.

26

C. Thorn and F. Thorn, Domesday Book: Devon (Chichester: Phillimore, 1985), 16,160 and

52,27. 27

DRO, 123M/TB/7, 9, 12; W. G. Hoskins, ‘Cholwich’, in Hoskins and H. P. R. Finberg, Devonshire Studies (London: Cape, 1952), pp. 78–94.

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37

Later evidence shows that customary tenants and lessees shared the same privileges as free tenants did. On Brent Moor ‘all the tennants as well ffree as custumarye have pasturage’; ‘tennants customery’ of Ilsington manor had common pasture on Haytor Down; a tenant at Scorriton had common of pasture on nearby Scorriton Down, Challeford Marsh, and Snowdown; a tenant in Buckland in the Moor had common on Uppedoun.28 A lease of 1551 for Meavy mentions a restriction (stint) on the number of animals, two cattle and twenty sheep, which could be put upon Yennadon Down in that parish, but this does not contradict our theme of liberal rights on the outer moors, for the lessee occupied a minute tenement — even the relatively poor were privileged.29 Only one formal agreement for a stint has been found, relating to Halstock. There, in September 1590, the lord and tenants made a by-law (ordinatio) for ‘the conserving and keeping of the stint in and upon Halstock [. . .] Down forever hereafter’. Tenants were limited to a set number of kine each, cows only were to be pastured between the third week in June and the last day of August, and they were to be brought home in the afternoon, presumably for milking; after the end of August any animals could be turned out. These measures were stringent by Dartmoor standards. They may perhaps be explained by the fact that the manor of Halstock was a very small one, with only a small share of the outer moorlands. Moreover, they were in force for only a few weeks — weeks when, given a little rain (which this, west, side of Dartmoor receives fully), the growth of grass is at its fastest. Farmers at Halstock clearly wished to ensure that the moorland was used to its best advantage at this season for dairying — at a time when there would have been good demand for butter and cheese at the nearby market town of Okehampton and beyond.30 We have begun with the tenants of the moor-edge manors. Who else made use of the grazing lands of the outer moors? Many Devon farmers sent their livestock to the central moor by making use of and paying a moor-edge middleman, a farmer who received the livestock, perhaps accommodating them for a few days on his own farm and then passing them into the custody of the herdsmen of the central moor. The Crown’s financial accounts for the central moor allow us to see this practice in operation in those years when we have lists of the graziers, because very large numbers of young cattle are attributed to particular individuals; for example,

28

For Brent and Ilsington, see DRO, 123M/E31, 49/26/4/8–9, and Z17/3/19. The sources for Scorriton and Buckland have not been ascertained. 29

DRO, Z13/1/10.

30

DRO, D1508M/Devon/M/Halstock/2.

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Harold Fox

in 1347 William Kyngeshete (from Kingsett in Mary Tavy) had 124 head of cattle, John Tyrrecaple had 50, and Robert Hexteworthy (Hexworthy in Lydford) had 275. These men were not manorial lords but tenant farmers. It is highly unlikely that they occupied farms large enough to have supported such large numbers of cattle; the cattle must therefore have been those of outsiders for whom they acted as middlemen.31 These middlemen were farmers of the moor-edge manors, and it would seem unlikely that they did not use also the outer moors as well as the central moor for their operations — the outer moors were closer and they were extensive enough to support the livestock of outsiders. There is good evidence for the practice. First, several early grants allow the tenants of moor-side farms free common of pasture on the outer moors for as many livestock as they could overwinter on their holdings; that is to say, pasture for their own animals was free, but if they took in the stock of others they should pay. Second, a grant of 1432 relating to Shapley Hellion specifically excludes from common of pasture animals which were not the grantee’s own property, the animals ‘of outsiders in his own custody’: such animals could use the moor belonging to Shapley, but not freely by common right.32 Third, as will be described a little later on, the lords of the moor-side manors regularly took fees for animals grazing on their moors: these cannot have been payments in respect of the stock of their own tenants, who were allowed to common freely, so they must be fees for the animals of men from other parts of Devon. A few post-medieval documentary statements claim that all people in Devon had rights of common on the outer moors. They may have regarded the outer moors as free for their use in some distant period well before the Norman Conquest; in fact this was almost certainly the case. But by the thirteenth century and later, almost all of the documentary evidence shows that they did not. The very few statements to the contrary are partial and incorrect, although they have coloured and confused a good deal of writing about Dartmoor over the last two centuries. The financial accounts of the Crown are excellent sources for an understanding of pastoral management on the central moor. We would expect that accounts rendered by local reeves to lords of manors bordering the centre might contain similar information, and this is in fact the case. We can begin with the best of the accounts, those of the Courtenay family for their great moor-side manors of Plympton and Cornwood. The earliest direct reference to Plympton’s share of the

31

TNA: PRO, SC 6/828/18, which is one of the earliest Dartmoor account rolls to name owners of livestock. 32

DRO, D1508M/Moger/218.

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39

outer moors (which included much of Crownhill Down) comes in a survey of 1262/63 which has the simple statement that the lord was accustomed to draw yearly profits of 24s. from ‘Dartmoor belonging to the castle’, that is, his share of the outer moors administered from Plympton Castle. Some of these profits came from fees paid by diggers of turves (discussed later) and possibly from other kinds of revenue, but the lion’s share was from grazing fees.33 A manorial account from 1422, when the Courtenay lands were in the hands of the Crown following the death of Sir Hugh, records 10s. 1d. as the profit made after a drift of Plympton’s moor,34 but this sum would have been only part of the total which was collected, for the account is a partial one covering a few months only, not the normal twelve. A later account, from the end of the fifteenth century, gives more details of the drifts there — the expenses of ‘diverse men driving animals and horses in the lord’s moor this year [. . . and] expenses of Richard Haydon, clerk, being at the said drifts for the convenience of the lord’. He would have drawn up a list of the owners of the livestock. The number of men on horseback assisting at the drifts varied between eight and sixteen. On the smaller Courtenay manor of Cornwood in 1534/35, 26s. 8d. was accounted for as ‘profit of the drifts of the moors’.35 Other families which owned moor-edge manors managed their moorlands in the same way, so that we find the Dynhams driving Hamel Down which was part of their manor of Natsworthy, and officials of the abbots of Buckfast driving Brent Moor, part of their manor of South Brent.36 Three general points may be made about these drifts. First, their purposes would have been to count the animals at several points in the year, to separate out those for which no fee was charged (the livestock of the commoners of the manor) from those which were paid for (the livestock of

33

TNA: PRO, C 132/29/4, printed in Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem Preserved in the Public Record Office, vol. I: Henry III (London: HMSO, 1904), p. 564. 34

TNA: PRO, SC 6/1118/6. A drift or drive was a major event, involving many local people, in which all the cattle on a sector of the moor were rounded up and collected in one place so that their owners could be identified and charged the appropriate fee, before being released again to graze. The Crown held four drifts of its central moor every year (see Fox, ‘Medieval Dartmoor as Seen through the Account Rolls’, and Alluring Uplands, ch. 2), and the lords of the privately owned outer moors similarly held drifts of their own manorial moors. Drifts of ponies still take place on Dartmoor today. 35 36

London, British Library, Additional Charter 64683; DRO, C.R . 532.

DRO, Z17/3/19, fol. ciii; Privy Council of England, Proceedings and Ordinances, 10 Richard II–33 Henry VII, (1386–1542), ed. by Sir Harris Nicolas, vol. VII (London: Record Commission, 1837), p. 123, extracted in Moore and Birkett, Short History, p. 46.

40

Harold Fox

outsiders), and to apprehend strays and the animals of outsiders who attempted to evade fees. Second, there was clearly a degree of imitation here among the lords of the moor-edge manors and between them and the Crown, lord of the central moor. This made very good practical sense, because if the lord of one manor carried out his drift on a particular day, without the cooperation of his neighbours, strays and livestock unpaid for would simply ‘escape’ across the generally unfenced manorial boundaries. A concept of simultaneous drifts therefore developed, although it was not always followed: in 1588 three men (probably the reeves of three manors) were accused of making drifts on the three moors of Holne Common, Brent Common, and Cornwood Common ‘before the official of our Lady Queen did’.37 A third general point to be made about the drifts is that they had a strongly manorial and financial character: they took place over the lord’s soil, and they were institutions initiated by lords for the profit of lords. The profits were large, as we shall see in our case study of Okehampton Park. The expenses of the drift, payments made to herdsmen, must be set against the profits from the fees paid for the animals which were rounded up, and these expenses were relatively small. The profit which came, through drifts, to a lord who owned one of the outer moors was a highly significant item of income. Manorial owners of moor-side properties were privileged because they had access to resources which could be made to yield significant income without a great deal of expenditure or effort on their part. They profited from the location of their properties on the flanks of Dartmoor, and they organized and managed them in a fashion entirely different from the management of their counterparts in parts of lowland England where the arable fields of one manor jostled upon those of its neighbours, with no intervening rough pastures. A lord lucky enough to own a manor which included one of the outer moors also sought to manorialize turf-cutting and the hewing of granite so long as those activities were carried out by outsiders and not by their tenants. Charters show that their tenants enjoyed considerable customary rights to dig turf so long as they were for domestic use. For example, in 1277 Buckfast Abbey granted to Richard de Bullhornstone of Bullhornstone in South Brent turves and peat charcoal ‘for his own use’; the charcoal was turf which had been burnt in order to make an especially potent fuel. In the thirtieth year of the reign of Edward I, Simon de Wybbebiry, lord of Chagford, granted to his tenant William de Langedon ‘one day’s worth of turf-digging where my other free tenants dig’.38 In these charters we

37

Moore and Birkett, Short History, p. 146.

38

DRO, 123M/TB/7 and 314M/T.65.

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41

can see tenants requesting confirmation of their customary rights and lords freely granting them. The financial accounts of lords who owned one of the outer moors present a different picture from that of charters, because they show that the turbaries could be manorialized and turned to profit. In fact there is no real conflict in the two types of evidence, for lords were not charging their tenants, but taking fees from outsiders. This is clear from the records of the central moor where commoners had free rights to dig turf for their own domestic use but where men who dug and made peat charcoal ‘in order to sell it’ were charged a fee.39 Because of a booming tin industry between the twelfth century and the sixteenth, the landscape of Dartmoor was dotted with piles of turves awaiting drying and with piles of peat charcoal for sale to smelters of tin — they were tempting to thieves and frequently stolen.40 On the outer moors, lords took advantage of this trade. In 1439, one hundred acres of turbary were stated in an inquisition post mortem to have been a financial asset of the lord of South Tawton whose manor included a considerable acreage of moorland. On the death of his near neighbour at the manor of Gidleigh in the early fourteenth century, another inquisition valued, or undervalued, ‘a certain waste of which the pasture and turbary are worth 6s. 8d.’.41 The financial accounts of lords also mention their profits from makers of peat charcoal, those of Cornwood for example.42 There were two types of turf-diggers on the outer moors, as on the central moor. On the moor of Cornwood manor, for example, the lord allowed his tenants to enjoy their customary rights to take turves for their own hearths. But he also exercised his right to the very soil of his manor by taking fees from outsiders digging carbon in moris, the payments being known as ‘cole rent’.43 This was the commercial, not domestic, side of turf-cutting. To judge from the records of the central moor, in which we have occasional lists of the names of men who dug for commercial profit, those who sought to gain from the trade were in some cases farmers who made and sold peat charcoal as a by-employment; others were professionals, some 39

Discussed in Fox, Alluring Uplands; see TNA: PRO, SC 6/827/9, Dartmoor account roll, 1370–71, for a statement about the fee for commercial use of turf and peat charcoal. 40 TNA: PRO, Dartmoor court rolls; for their references, see the Appendix to Fox, ‘Medieval Dartmoor as Seen through the Account Rolls’. 41

TNA: PRO, C 139/194, C 134/46/23, printed in Calendar of Inquisitions post Mortem, 5, Edw. II, 1307–16, p. 368. 42

DRO, C.R . 532, an account of 1534/35.

43

DRO, C.R . 532.

42

Harold Fox

of whom came from Cornwall. The records of the central moor always refer to these men as carbonarii.44 Finally, some lords exercised their manorial rights over their wastes by taking fees for those who hewed granite in order to make and sell stone objects, such as millstones.45

Okehampton Park: A Case Study The aim of this case study of Okehampton Park, created from one of the outer moors, is to show that lords lucky enough to have wasteland on their doorsteps could make very considerable profits from it: it was not idle land. The park lies to the south of the castle and town of Okehampton, the latter planted by its first Norman lord, Baldwin the Sheriff: the borough existed, if rather feebly, by 1086 and is mentioned in Domesday Book.46 The park covers 1664 acres, mostly grassland with some invading heather and gorse. An eighteenth-century map shows strips of woodland along the northern and eastern boundaries of the park. These were admired by Charles Vancouver in the early nineteenth century and are still present in the landscape today.47 The medieval park needed no pale in the north and east because here the boundaries are formed by swiftly flowing and relatively wide rivers, the West and East Okement. To the south and west there may once have been an earthen pale, but stone is the traditional fencing material of Dartmoor and soils here are thin, which would make it relatively difficult to construct an earthen bank; perhaps the present wall had medieval predecessors in stone. To the south of the park pale are the rough pastures of Okehampton Common, over three times the size of the park itself and further potential grazing land for many 44 TNA: PRO, for example SC 6/Henry VII/88 where we have lists of both graziers and turf diggers, so the two may be matched. The Cornish carbonarii claimed that they came to Dartmoor because of shortage of turf in their own county, which is difficult to believe. 45

Fox, ‘Millstone Makers of Medieval Dartmoor’.

46

Thorn and Thorn, Domesday Book: Devon, 16,3; M. W. Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages (London: Lutterworth, 1967), p. 425; M. W. Beresford and H. P. R. Finberg, English Medieval Boroughs: A Hand-list (Newton Abbot: David and Charles, 1973), p. 96. Jeremy Haslam has proposed pre-conquest origins for some Devon towns previously considered to be Norman foundations, but not for Okehampton: Jeremy Haslam, ‘The Towns of Devon’, in Anglo-Saxon Towns in Southern England, ed. by Haslam (Chichester: Phillimore, 1984), pp. 249–83 (p. 249). 47

DRO, 1508M/E/Surveys/V/4, plan XXV; C. Vancouver, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Devon (London, 1808), p. 268.

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livestock. These have never been touched by enclosure, but in the park itself developments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries resulted in some new farms, private dwellings, and a massive army camp, still in use today.48 Livestock were confined within the safety of the pale at night, but led out to the extensive grazings of the common during the day. There are two means of dating the park, the first being from documentary sources. It was certainly in existence in 1306 because the owners of Okehampton in that year, the Courtenay family, purchased a small piece of land from the lord of Belstone, whose land adjoined the park, in order to make a deer-leap, the deed being proudly copied into the family’s grand cartulary. By an agreement of 1292, also copied into the cartulary, the burgesses of Okehampton gave up rights of pasture in the wood to the south of their castle, and this has been seen as the beginning of the park’s creation: the wood was being preserved as a refuge for deer. In return, the burgesses received, or more likely were confirmed in, extensive rights of pasture between Birham, part of the Courtenay demesne, and ‘the bounds of Dartmoor’ (metas de Dertemora).49 The name Birham has not survived, but the place was probably situated not in the park, as is often stated, but outside it near the castle. The element ham in Devon place-names means ‘good land adjacent to poorer land’,50 in this case favourable demesne land adjacent to the inferior soils of waste which was to become the park. The other means of dating the park is from pottery found within one of the dispersed settlement sites of which a scattering lay within the area now occupied by parkland. A good deal, about one-third, of the area of the later park is covered by a medieval arable field system associated with five dispersed settlements, one of which was excavated by David Austin in advance of the spread of Meldon quarry. The pottery from the excavation was examined by John Allan who compared it with datable wares from nearby Okehampton Castle. He concluded that ‘the pottery belongs largely to the period after c.1250’ and that the settlement ‘was probably abandoned c.1300’. We may therefore date the park to between 1250 and 1300.51 48

D. Austin, R. Daggett, and M. Walker, ‘Farms and Fields in Okehampton Park, Devon’, Landscape History, 2 (1980), 39–57 (p. 46). 49

DRO, D1508M/Courtenay Cartulary.

50

M. Gelling, Place-names in the Landscape (London: Dent, 1984; 1993 edn), pp. 45–46, and Gelling and Ann Cole, The Landscape of Place-names (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 2000), p. 52, where it is argued that -ham names around the perimeter of Dartmoor derive not from hâm but hamm. 51

John Allan, ‘Appendix 2: The Pottery’, in David Austin, ‘Excavations in Okehampton Park, Devon, 1976–78’, Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings, 36 (1978), 191–239 (p. 228).

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The Courtenay family highhandedly evicted a few tenants when the park was created and their arable reverted to pasture. There are examples of similar acts elsewhere, though not usually as early as this one. The family must have realized that the potential income from using the park as a grazing ground would be far greater than the rents paid by a few poor tenants. The Courtenay family and their successors made large profits from men who brought livestock from afar to graze on the wastes of Okehampton Park, mostly in the summer: they were the benefactors of transhumance. The most detailed evidence for this comes from a rather late financial account, dated to 1534–35,52 but we know from earlier accounts of Okehampton53 and from other manors that lords who owned the outer moors were making similar profits at an early date,54 so we can say with some confidence that the Courtenays were already taking grazing fees when Okehampton Park was created in the late thirteenth century. The account for 1534–35 is not unusual except in one respect. The items of profit are set out in Table 1. Perquisites of the manorial courts were large in 1534 because over £3 came in through adventitious gain, from entry fines for tenements which changed hands in that year. The unusual feature of the account is the huge sum, £24 8s., which was clawed in from owners of livestock who brought their livestock to graze in the park. The table shows that, after the rents of tenants and lessees, this item was the largest source of income from the manor. It was far larger than profits from leases of the improved arable and pasture of Okehampton’s demesne: the ‘waste’ of the park was part of the demesne but waste was more valuable to the lord than his improved land. Three points need to be made about this large sum, the first concerning the number of animals which it represents. We can be reasonably confident in calculating their number, because we know from many sources that the Crown charged commoners 1½d. per head of cattle grazing on the central moor.55 Had lords of Okehampton Park charged more, owners of livestock would simply have voted with their feet and with the hooves of their cattle and gone elsewhere for their summer grazing. A simple calculation shows that the sum of £24 8s. translates into 3840 head of cattle. These would not have been mature oxen, which were needed

52

DRO, C.R . 532.

53

For example, London, British Library, Additional Charter 64663 (an account of 1424/25) and 64683 (a late fifteenth-century account), and also TNA: PRO, SC 6/1118/6 (an account of 1422, though covering only a few months, not a complete year). 54

See notes 13, 14, and 33 above.

55

For example, Moore and Birkett, Short History, p. 81, one of many references to the 1½d. fee.

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Table 1. Okehampton manor, 1534–35: sources of income. Rents (including new rents and £30 12s. 11d. leases of demesne lands and mills) Sale of servile works 18s. 8d. Guardianship of livestock in the park £24 8s. 0d. Honey and wax in the park 4d. Sale of bark and loppings 10s. 4d. Pannage in the park 4s. 7d. Profits of the fair of St James £1 16s. 0d. Sale of hay £1 14s. 8d. Perquisites of courts £8 4s. 6d. Sale of pasture £1 1s. 0d. Total income £69 11s. 0d. Source: Devon Record Office (Exeter), C.R . 532, account for the year to Michaelmas 1535.

for traction on their home farms during the summer, nor would they have been cows in milk, because lords of Okehampton did not have available the labour which would have been necessary to milk them. Rather, they were immature livestock, the calves, one-year-olds, boviculi (two years), and bovetti (three years) which feature so prominently in documents relating to summer grazing on the central moor.56 Their grazing requirements would have been less than those of fully grown oxen and cows. Our second point concerns the nature of the 1½d. fee for grazing. It was not a fee for rent of pasture, because that would have been far higher. Rather, we should think of it as a ‘guardianship fee’, a payment by the owners of the cattle for safe custody of their stock within the park pale, similar to payments, ‘protection money’, made to the lord of Nether Gorddwr in the Welsh borders for providing a cattle guardian armed with a staff, ‘because the country was wild and disordered’.57 Third, the large sum collected by a lord of Okehampton from people who grazed their animals on his ‘waste’ was not put in his coffers without some expense. In 1534–35 the sum of 18s. 11½d. was spent on duties to do with livestock grazing in Okehampton Park, which is a large sum but relatively insignificant in relation to profits. The officials of a lord with so many animals under their supervision were 56

TNA: PRO, Dartmoor court rolls: a statistical analysis of these reveals that immature bovines greatly outnumbered all other types of cattle. 57

A. J. Kettle, ‘Agriculture, 1300–1540’, in Victoria County History, Shropshire, vol. IV : Agriculture, ed. by G. C. Baugh and C. R . Elrington (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1989), pp. 72–118 (p. 113).

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busy men. The park was ‘driven’ or ‘drifted’ several times during the year, occasions when livestock were rounded up and counted. The most important drift was the summer one when the park was most densely stocked, when animals were assigned to their owners, and when a clerk made a list of ownership. On the central moor similar practices existed, where we have rolls made by clerks recording the names of each owner and the number of cattle he brought to the summer grazings.58 No such rolls survive for Okehampton Park, although financial accounts record the clerks’ expenses. In 1534–35 other drifts were in March, December, and September. The winter drifts show that some types of livestock, probably horses and sheep, overwintered on the park’s moorlands: the purpose of these drifts was to supervise overwintering stock and to apprehend animals which had strayed onto the unenclosed Okehampton Common beyond the park pale. The evidence for strays comes from late sources: a black horse, a white sheep, a red horse, and a bay horse are all recorded as having strayed onto the unfenced Okehampton Commons beyond the pale of the park.59 In the early sixteenth century Okehampton Park was supervised by a head parker and three ‘keepers’ (custodes parci), a very large staff for a medieval deerpark.60 This mirrors practice on the Crown’s central moor where there were chief herdsmen and under-herdsmen, the former being rangers on horseback who kept good order and apprehended rustlers and strays, the latter being men who watched over the herds at their grazings.61 The Okehampton keepers no doubt led their charges daily from the park into the adjoining commons. The expenses of the parker and keepers should be set against profits from the fees, and so should tithes. The lord of Okehampton paid tithes on stock grazing in his park and on his commons, which may seem strange because the animals were not his property but rather the property of his tenants and, as we shall see, of outsiders. In the case of outsiders the problem, to medieval minds, was as follows: if livestock were kept for half of the year in one parish and for half a year in another, to whom were tithes to be paid? Solutions, sometimes statutory, had to be found for the problem.62

58

For example, TNA: PRO, SC 6/828/18 and SC 6/Henry VII/88, and others listed in the Appendix to Fox, ‘Medieval Dartmoor as Seen through the Account Rolls’. 59

DRO, C.R . 186.

60

DRO, C.R . 532.

61

Discussed in Fox, Alluring Uplands, ch. 2.

62

Fox, Alluring Uplands, ch. 1, for details of medieval and Tudor statutes on this question.

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The presence of the livestock of outsiders in Okehampton Park in the Middle Ages is indicated by the very large numbers of animals which it supported. Evidence from a late rental allows a count of the number of farms on the manor,63 and a simple calculation, allowing for a larger number of holdings in the Middle Ages, makes it quite clear that these could not have possibly supported the 3840 head of cattle accounted for in 1534–35. From this argument we conclude that many of the animals in the park belonged to outsiders. We know from documents relating to the central moor, and from other sources, that transhumance to and from Dartmoor in the Middle Ages attracted stock from considerable distances. This was also the case with Okehampton Park, although we only have late sources on this subject, ‘stock books’ which give the names and places of residence of farmers who sent their animals to the park. We shall use them here in the hope that certain farms or parishes had traditions of sending to Okehampton and that these persisted over many generations.64 Analysis of the places of residence of graziers from a sample of stock books dating from the third quarter of the eighteenth century reveals that Okehampton Park had a predictable catchment area in the stock-rearing Culm Measures country immediately north of the park. There are also some more unusual, less predictable, movements. Two of the longest distances from which livestock were brought to the park involved farmers from Kenton and Alphington near the River Exe, both properties belonging to the Courtenay family whose tenants would have known about the value of the grazings of Okehampton Park through the steward who wrote the stock books (almost certainly William Chapple, also author of an antiquarian work).65 Some distant movements, however, from Stoke Canon near Exeter for example, were not dictated by the geography of the Courtenay estate, and this also applies to the farmers who sent cattle from Launceston in Cornwall. At first sight it seems odd that farmers from manors near Dartmoor, which had their own shares of the outer moors, should have sent livestock to the park, from Throwleigh and Bridestowe for example and even from Belstone, which adjoins Okehampton. The

63

DRO, 314M-O/F.201–02.

64

DRO, 1508M/SS/Okehampton Park/1–5. Professor Fox had intended to insert here a figure showing the places of residence of graziers from a sample of stock books dating from the third quarter of the eighteenth century, but no draft of it has been found among his papers, nor can one be worked up from his research notes relating to the stock books, as these too cannot be located. The next paragraph’s comments on the dimensions of the catchment area depicted in the figure have been reworked slightly in consequence. 65

William Chapple, A Review of Part of Risdon’s Survey of Devon (Exeter, 1785).

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reason must be that the owners of these animals especially prized the grazings of the park because, having in part been once arable land, it had especially good pasture and because the park pale ensured that their stock were secure from the danger of rustlers at night. The park books specify that most of the cattle sent to Okehampton were two years of age, with a few one year older or younger than that. They give the expenses of paying ‘drivers’ to round up and count the cattle, of their annual supper and drinks at the Fountain Inn. They also give details of repairs to the pale, including payments to quarry-workers and for lime. The summer grazing season was the most important one, but there were also ‘winter horses’ and ‘Hallowtide’ stock, probably sheep, which arrived on 1 November. We may end by speculating that the very creation of Okehampton Park was in part an act of economic development designed to make the most of guardianship fees from outsiders who brought their livestock to graze there. In part, the park was created ‘to make way for sport’ as David Austin put it.66 Care and expense were taken in order to provide a deer-leap, and woodland was protected from Okehampton borough’s commoners to provide safe refuge for beasts of the chase. But the park was a very large one by Devon and other standards, and its creation may be seen in part as an invitation to farmers at a distance to use Okehampton’s common grazings for a fee. They would have been enticed by the knowledge that their livestock were protected by the park pale and were under the supervision of the lord’s reeve and his men. In some ways the park provided safer grazing than the central moor, where the Crown’s herdsmen and their underlings were relatively fewer in relation to the number of cattle which needed supervision and where there were no enclosures to safeguard livestock.67 The Courtenay family did well to develop their park partly for commercial ends and, as we have seen, it was a successful investment.

66

Austin, ‘Excavations in Okehampton Park’, p. 197.

67

Discussed in Fox, Alluring Uplands, ch. 2.

P OSTAN ’S F IFTEENTH C ENTURY Richard Britnell

A

brash article by Michael Postan in The Economic History Review in 1939 was an important forerunner of current debate about the English fifteenthcentury economy, though its polemical tone was a mixed blessing.1 Debate about the quality of the economy’s performance had polarized fifty years earlier, when William Denton’s ‘pessimistic’ analysis confronted the more ‘optimistic’ analysis of Thorold Rogers. Postan believed that, though optimistic views of the fifteenth century as an age of accelerated development remained predominant, strong evidence had accumulated against them. He endorsed Wilhelm Abel’s emphasis on the decline of agriculture in the late Middle Ages, which was so obviously correct, he believed, that ‘the reader is left wondering how it has escaped the attention of the authors of text-books’.2 Postan’s article introduced into English medieval economic history the concept of aggregate national income. ‘That the total national income and wealth was declining’, he argued of the fifteenth century, ‘is shown by almost every statistical index available to historians’, and he described the period as ‘an age of recession, arrested development and declining national income’.3 These assertions constitute the paper’s chief claim to constructive revisionism, though it was a pity that it associated income and wealth so closely. It is unfortunate, too, that Postan did not distinguish between ‘recession’, ‘arrested development’, and ‘declining national 1

Michael M. Postan, ‘The Fifteenth Century’, Economic History Review, 9 (1939), 160–67, reprinted in Postan, Essays on Medieval Agriculture and General Problems of the Medieval Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 41–48. 2

Michael M. Postan, review of Wilhem Abel, Agrarkrisen und Agrarkonjunktur in Mitteleuropa vom XIII bis XIX Jahrhundert (1935), Economic History Review, 8 (1937), 101–02 (p. 102). 3

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 161 (Essays, p. 42).

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income’, each of which requires its own analysis and verification. Be that as it may, the adoption of national income analysis implied the need for more quantitative evidence of late medieval economic performance. A second article of 1950 was more narrowly concerned with evidence for population change, though it had implications for aggregate economic performance, since if numbers had fallen during the fifteenth century, as Postan suggested, only a corresponding increase in per capita output could have prevented national income from falling. This was not an argument he could develop, however, since he reasoned from economic to demographic evidence, and not the other way round.4 Economic growth and decline, as measured by changes in national income, are so central to the work of economic historians today that Postan’s precocious interest in the matter needs no justification. But he did not innovate for innovation’s sake. He believed that misconceptions were leading historians seriously astray. The period 1350–1500 was conventionally defined as transitional between a ‘medieval’ and a ‘modern’ stage of development. In the absence of quantification, however, such evaluations of economic performance invited arbitrary rhetoric, like Alice Green’s ‘industrial revolution of the fifteenth century’ and ‘commercial revolution of the fifteenth century’.5 The absence of adequate data concerning overall economic performance encouraged an analysis of development within a mythic discourse of death and rebirth, but even the spurious clarity of this metaphor was undermined by chronological confusion.6 Unless historians knew how the economy was performing — which implied some sort of aggregate quantitative assessment — their focus on relevant social and institutional change, and how it was to be explained and interpreted, was likely to be less than sharp. Postan’s concern with national income has frequently been ignored or misunderstood in subsequent criticism by authors who have thought his views unduly pessimistic. He in fact shared an optimistic interpretation of the fifteenth century as a period of long-term increasing personal freedom and higher standards of living for large sections of the population.7 Indeed, evidence for rising incomes was vital 4

Michael M. Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence of Declining Population in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 2 (1950), 221–46, reprinted in Postan, Essays, pp. 186–213. 5

Alice S. Green, Town Life in the Fifteenth Century, 2 vols (London: Macmillan, 1894), chs 2 and 3. 6

Charles L. Kingsford, Prejudice and Promise in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Frank Cass, 1925), p. 66; cf. Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 161 (Essays, p. 42). 7

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 161 (Essays, p. 42).

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for his argument that population was declining. The land-population model of economic change that he developed later in life recognized the late Middle Ages as ‘the golden age of English peasantry’.8 His work cannot be refuted by evidence of the rising prosperity of particular individuals, groups, or places. It is therefore difficult to account for much of the antagonism his comments have received except in terms of misunderstanding. Despite its overt hostility, Anthony Bridbury’s Economic Growth does not discuss changes in national income, despite its title, and so bypasses the debate as Postan defined it.9 As developed in 1950, Postan’s argument inevitably engaged with the work of Josiah Cox Russell, who had recently postulated a continuing downward trend of population between 1377 and 1400 to a nadir of about 2.1 million between 1400 and 1430, followed by continuous increase to 3.22 million in 1545.10 As this implies, Postan’s argument for declining population between 1348 and 1400 was uncontroversial.11 Even for much of the fifteenth century he had little argument with Russell. His earlier interpretation of fifteenth-century agriculture spoke of ‘a secular slump, which began at some time in the fourteenth century — in some place before the Black Death — and continued with a slight halt in the first decade or two of the fifteenth century, until the late seventies and the eighties’.12 This implies that he agreed with Russell that the downward trend was arrested in the period c. 1400–20, and may have risen or stabilized after the late 1470s, but that he disputed the stability, let alone recovery, of the period 1420–80. With a different emphasis, he might have analysed the later medieval economy as a series of cycles rather than as the downturn of a single cycle, so placing his observations into line with more recent analysis.13 He did not do so, and instead spoke of ‘secular

8

E.g. Michael M. Postan, The Medieval Economy and Society: An Economic History of Britain 1100–1500 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972), p. 142. 9 Anthony R . Bridbury, Economic Growth: England in the Later Middle Ages (London: George Allen, 1962). 10

Josiah C. Russell, British Medieval Population (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1948), pp. 260–81. His figures are repeated in Russell, Late Ancient and Medieval Population, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n.s., 48.3 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1958), pp. 118–19. 11

Nils Hybel, Crisis or Change: The Concept of Crisis in the Light of Agrarian Structural Reorganization in Late Medieval England (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1989), pp. 9–10, 70–75, 106. 12 13

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 163 (Essays, p. 43).

The principal study of the mid-fifteenth-century recession is John Hatcher, ‘The Great Slump of the Mid-Fifteenth Century’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in

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slump’ over a whole century and more, because of his enthusiasm to scotch the notion of fifteenth-century takeoff, his commitment to the idea of a longer medieval cycle of growth and decline of the sort that Abel had proposed, and also his sense that recovery phases were slight in comparison with the severity of recurrent crises. In his article of 1950 he wrote of ‘local and temporary variations’ around a declining trend.14 Postan’s early studies involved institutionally focused studies of trade and credit. These remain important, though they have little bearing on most of his work from the 1940s onwards. In 1933, however, he had edited with Eileen Power a collection of papers on foreign trade. His own contribution on Anglo-Hanseatic diplomatic relationships has only incidental significance for economic growth, but the volume also contained Howard Gray’s quantitative study of the custom’s accounts, which supplied evidence relating to fluctuations in overseas trade.15 His own work and Gray’s statistics allowed him to identify a mid-fifteenth-century commercial crisis with some confidence: ‘It is now well known that the lowest point of English foreign trade was reached at some time in the middle of the century.’16 Postan’s early background in commercial and diplomatic history contributed to the political content of much of his analysis. He was alert to the impact of political events upon the economy and regarded attention to such exogenous variables as a determining characteristic of an economic historian; in reviewing James Westfall Thompson’s Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages

Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 237–72, but see also Richard H. Britnell, ‘The Economic Context’, in The Wars of the Roses, ed. by Anthony J. Pollard (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995), pp. 41–64; Edmund B. Fryde, ‘Crisis: Economic Depression, c. 1430–c. 1470’, in Fryde, Peasants and Landlords in Later Medieval England (Stroud: Sutton, 1996), pp. 145–68; Pamela Nightingale, ‘England and the European Depression of the Mid-Fifteenth Century’, Journal of European Economic History, 26 (1997), 631–56; Anthony J. Pollard, ‘The North-Eastern Economy and the Agrarian Crisis of 1438–40’, Northern History, 25 (1989), 87–105. 14

Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, pp. 230, 234 (Essays, pp. 196, 200).

15

Howard L. Gray, ‘English Foreign Trade from 1446 to 1482’, in Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century, ed. by Eileen Power and Michael M. Postan (London: Routledge, 1933), pp. 1–38; Michael M. Postan, ‘The Economic and Political Relations of England and the Hanse from 1400 to 1475’, in ibid., pp. 91–153. In reviewing the volume, Charles Johnson commented that ‘of its individual parts Mr. Postan’s contribution makes the deepest impression on the memory’: Economic History Review, 4 (1933), pp. 357–73 (p. 363). 16

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 163 (Essays, p. 44).

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(1932) he had written that ‘the acknowledged achievement of economic history is to have shown how non-economic phenomena modify the purely theoretical laws of economic science’.17 His interpretation of the fifteenth-century recession was heavily influenced by his awareness of the social consequences of misgovernment: In times like these a rising tide of production and trade could have been made possible only by a most unusual combination of favourable circumstances: a rapid accumulation of capital, a growth of population, a development of technical arts. The fact that none of these conditions were present makes the economy of the time all the easier to fit into its political background.18

This passage implies an economy weakened by depopulation, then driven into deep recession by weak government and war, a theme similarly dominant in his comments on the mid-fifteenth-century crisis in Gascony.19 His comments on the adverse economic consequences of conflict with France were developed in two later articles on the Hundred Years’ War.20 By 1950, then, Postan had raised numerous issues directly relevant to the analysis of economic growth and instability, with a focus upon aggregate economic analysis and the importance of statistical data. He concentrated on the evidence for changes in agricultural output, exports, and population. His use of national income concepts, his concern with economic performance, and his awareness of multicausality have remained part of the agenda of economic historians.21 The object here is chiefly to indicate how far subsequent research has advanced our understanding of the issues he raised.

17

Economic History Review, 5 (1934), 120–32 (p. 122).

18

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 165 (Essays, p. 46). Cf. Postan, Medieval Economy and Society, pp. 105, 195; Postan, ‘The Trade of Medieval Europe: The North’, in The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. II: Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages, ed. by Postan and Edward Miller, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 297–99, reprinted in Postan, Medieval Trade and Finance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 216–17. 19

Michael M. Postan, review of Robert Boutrouche, La Crise d’une société (1947), Economic History Review, 2nd series, 2 (1950), 330–31. 20

Michael M. Postan, ‘Some Social Consequences of the Hundred Years War’, Economic History Review, 12 (1942), 34–53; Postan, ‘The Costs of the Hundred Years War’, Past and Present, 27 (1964), 34–53, both reprinted in Postan, Essays, pp. 49–80. 21

See, for example, the comments in Christopher Dyer, ‘The Past, the Present and the Future in Medieval Rural History’, Rural History, 1 (1990), 37–50 (pp. 42–47).

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Agricultural Output Although Postan based his argument on rural data, the history of fifteenth-century agriculture has proved intractable to quantitative assessment. Some of the earliest evidence concerning the shrinking arable of the later Middle Ages derived from the study of demesne agriculture, such as William Beveridge’s data from the bishopric of Winchester. Fifty years later David Farmer published more extensive calculations for the Winchester demesnes, showing that on twelve out of fourteen manors for which there is appropriate evidence the arable acreage in 1432–35 was smaller than in 1394–97.22 But for an assessment of the century as a whole, or even for the more limited period 1420–80, evidence from demesne agriculture is inadequate, given the widespread abandonment of direct management.23 The character of manorial tenures also makes it difficult to generalize about levels of rent. Postan’s observations, which were supported by analogies from France and Germany, suggested that land values fell in the first three quarters of the fifteenth century.24 The most satisfying study of English rent movements based on a large sample — John Hatcher’s study of the estates of the Duchy of Cornwall — shows rather the absence of uniformity in English experience.25 Changes in rents and other seigneurial dues in some areas of cloth manufacture during the earlier fifteenth century also cast doubt upon the universality of decline.26 Generalizations about decline over the fifteenth century as a whole are further undermined by the experience of its final decades. After 1470 rent increases were far from general even

22

William H. Beveridge, ‘The Yield and Price of Corn in the Middle Ages’, Economic History, 1 (1927), 155–67; David L. Farmer, ‘Grain Yields on the Winchester Manors in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 30 (1977), 555–66 (p. 562). 23

Bruce M. S. Campbell, English Seigniorial Agriculture 1250–1450 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 236–37. 24

Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, pp. 236–37 (Essays, pp. 203–04). For a better-supported argument along these lines, see John Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy, 1348–1530 (London: Macmillan, 1977), pp. 36–44. 25

John Hatcher, Rural Economy and Society in the Duchy of Cornwall 1300–1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 148–55, 258. 26

Richard H. Britnell, Growth and Decline in Colchester, 1300–1525 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 252; John N. Hare, ‘Growth and Recession in the Fifteenth Century Economy: The Wiltshire Textile Industry and the Countryside’, Economic History Review, 52 (1999), 10–18; Hare, ‘Regional Prosperity in Fifteenth-Century England: Some Evidence from Wessex’, in Revolution and Consumption in Late Medieval England, ed. by Michael Hicks (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2001), pp. 105–26 (p. 123).

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in pastoral regions, but they were widespread enough for Ian Blanchard to identify them as the upswing of a ‘diminutive’ long-term cycle, led by the investment in livestock, that peaked in the 1490s.27 On the other hand, Postan’s general conclusions are robust enough to stand up to evidence of local variations for much of the period before the 1470s. He knew of Frances Davenport’s calculations of contractual rents per acre in fifteenth-century Forncett, which showed that they were highest in the first decade and lowest in the 1450s and 1470s. Subsequent recovery there was muted; rents in the 1490s were no higher than in the 1460s.28 Mark Bailey has since calculated the decennial means of leasehold arable rents on some Breckland manors, with results closely comparable with those of Frances Davenport.29 A similar pattern of decline is commonly observable even for tenures whose rent was supposedly not contractual. On the estates of the bishopric of Worcester the rents of customary holdings were inclined to fall before 1450, though they then remained stable for the following hundred years; entry fines were generally low between 1430 and 1470, which approximately corresponds to the critical phase of Postan’s fifteenth-century slump.30 Postan’s argument from rents to output, which implies that lower rents were matched by lower intensity of cultivation rather than lower prices, is plausible enough, given that ‘on the whole agrarian revenues were depressed very much further than prices’.31 Even static rents may conceal such contraction. The monks of Westminster preferred to keep the rents of their customary tenants high but to be tolerant of non-payment, so that it became normal for rents to become ‘uncollectable’.32

27 Ian Blanchard, ‘Population Change, Enclosure and the Early Tudor Economy’, Economic History Review, 23 (1970), pp. 427–45 (pp. 433–34). See, too, Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy, pp. 63–64. 28

Frances G. Davenport, The Economic Development of a Norfolk Manor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1906), p. 78. 29

Mark Bailey, A Marginal Economy: East Anglian Breckland in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 268–69. 30 Christopher Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 283–88. 31

J. M. W. Bean, The Estates of the Percy Family, 1416–1537 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958), p. 42. 32

Barbara F. Harvey, Westminster Abbey and its Estates in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 292–93. For such policy variations, see also Margaret Yates, Town and Countryside in Western Berkshire, c.1327–c.1600: Social and Economic Change (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007), pp. 125–74.

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A secondary, weaker, argument in Postan’s favour is that inferences from low rent extend to examples of no rent, when previously tenanted land was abandoned from cultivation. These too contributed to declining rental incomes from land. However, such data has no established chronology, and Postan’s statement that ‘the number of vacant holdings and lapsed rents grow continually throughout the period’ is tendentious.33 Much of the abundant evidence of abandoned holdings and lower rents in the later fifteenth century is better understood as the consequence of earlier population losses than as evidence of continuing crisis. Postan cited figures for increasing levels of decayed rent on the Glastonbury Abbey manors of Walton and Street in the first half of the fifteenth century, and there is similar evidence from manors on the Ramsey Abbey estate,34 but such data cannot be unambiguously interpreted without observation of both the actual occupation of the tenements whose rents were uncollected and the accounting practices of those recording their default, and in any case it is demonstrable that not all manors conform to the examples of Walton and Street.35 The desertion of medieval villages is also relevant to the transformations of late medieval agriculture, but again such evidence does not lend itself to the construction of a chronological sequence that could support or refute any proposition about the course of fifteenth-century national income.36 Other economic evidence at our disposal is better related to changes in output than anything available in 1950. Increases or decreases in the amount of grain milled correspond approximately to increases and decreases in internal domestic consumption of bread. John Langdon’s evidence of grain mill numbers from all parts of England suggests ‘a long slump from the end of the fourteenth effectively to the beginning of the sixteenth century’, though the period of contraction ended around 1450.37 Numbers of grain mills cannot be a perfect index of population

33

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 161 (Essays, pp. 42–43).

34

J. Ambrose Raftis, The Estates of Ramsey Abbey (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1957), pp. 288–89. 35

See, for example, Bean, Estates of the Percy Family, pp. 19–20, 25, 29, 30, 37.

36

David Aldred and Christopher Dyer, ‘A Medieval Cotswold Village: Roel, Gloucestershire’, Transactions of Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 109 (1991), 139–70 (pp. 154–61); Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society, pp. 244–63; Dyer, ‘Deserted Medieval Villages in the West Midlands’, Economic History Review, 35 (1982), 19–34; Dyer, ‘Rural Settlements in Medieval Warwickshire’, Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Transactions, 100 (1996), 117–33 (pp. 128–31). 37

John Langdon, Mills in the Medieval Economy: England 1300–1540 (Oxford: Oxford University, 2004), pp. 31–32.

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because we cannot assume that consumption of grain per head or output of meal per mill were constant, and in fact changes in mill numbers must understate the decline in population. The number of grain mills in the later fifteenth century was still about 73 per cent of what it had been at the start of the fourteenth century, at least in part because their spatial distribution and manorial status gave many millers monopoly power. The throughput of the surviving mills decreased, and the revenues landlords derived from them declined.38 The best hope of reliable statistical evidence for the output of arable farming is tithe data. A study using Durham evidence by Ben Dodds supports Postan to the extent that it implies no growth of cereals output during the later fifteenth century. On the other hand, it does not support Postan’s view that arable farming experienced sustained contraction. Some reduction of output between 1400 and 1440, most conspicuously during the 1430s, was followed by partial recovery between the late 1450s and the 1470s, followed by renewed crisis in the 1480s and then stability for fifty years or more.39 The pastoral sector was sufficiently large enough to exercise an independent influence on aggregate trends, and there were periods of the fifteenth century when pasture was more profitable than arable so that land abandoned from cropping was used to expand the number of sheep or cows.40 To the extent that fluctuations in pastoral output followed changes in domestic demand, they presumably corresponded in the short term to those in arable production, though more vigorously because of the greater elasticity of demand for meat, dairy products, and clothing.41 Sheep farming, on the other hand, was more dependent than arable husbandry upon exports, so it experienced both expansion and contraction through causes external to the English economy. Whether the sources of demand were domestic

38 Richard Holt, The Mills of Medieval England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), pp. 162–64, 170; Langdon, Mills in the Medieval Economy, p. 31. 39

Ben Dodds, Peasants and Production in the Medieval North-East: The Evidence from Tithes (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007), pp. 28, 101–15. 40

Christopher Dyer, Warwickshire Farming, 1349–c.1520: Preparations for Agricultural Revolution, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers, 27 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), pp. 16–21, 30–32; Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society, pp. 150–52. 41

Christopher Dyer, ‘English Diet in the Later Middle Ages’, in Social Relations and Ideas: Essays in Honour of R. H. Hilton, ed. by Trevor H. Aston, Peter R . Coss, Christopher Dyer, and Joan Thirsk, Past and Present Society Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 191–216 (pp. 213–16); Dyer, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 158–60, 176–77, 202.

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or foreign, livestock husbandry gives indications of growth within the period 1410–35, and again more strongly after 1470, that have no equivalent in the history of cereals cultivation.42 In the end, any statements about changing fifteenth-century agrarian output rest on the probabilities implied by second-best data. The evidence from tithes and mill numbers, taken in conjunction with that of lower and uncollected rents, support Postan’s view that arable husbandry contracted, though this is most in evidence before 1450 and was probably not continuous. It also implies that recovery in the second half of the century was not vigorous, sustained, or universal. Yet in the periods 1410–35 and 1470–1500 investment in pastoral farming may have allowed agrarian output as a whole to grow. These phases of recovery roughly frame the period 1420–80 with which Postan was particularly concerned. The evidence accordingly supports Postan’s opposition to interpreting the fifteenth century as a phase of exceptional or accelerated economic growth, and perhaps invites even more caution than he showed about the strength of recovery after 1480, but does not legitimate his suggestion that the century as a whole was one of declining output. Much of the evidence of difficulties in both arable and pastoral farming is concentrated in the middle decades of the century,43 which were followed by a hesitant and locally very variable recovery, with occasional setbacks.44

Industry and Foreign Trade The urban decline that Postan cited as a reason for, and evidence of, contracting trade and declining demand for agricultural products has proved a more complex proposition than it seemed to him in 1939.45 This aspect of fifteenth-century 42 Richard H. Britnell, ‘Fluctuations in Agrarian Output: England, 1350–1450’, in Agricultural and Rural Society after the Black Death: Common Themes and Regional Variations, ed. by Ben Dodds and Richard H. Britnell (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2008), pp. 20–39; Britnell, ‘The English Economy and the Government, 1450–1550’, in The End of the Middle Ages?, ed. by John L. Watts (Stroud: Sutton, 1998), pp. 89–91. 43

Apart from the broader literature on the mid-fifteenth-century slump (note 13), see Bailey, Marginal Economy, pp. 266, 290–92; Richard H. Britnell, ‘The Pastons and their Norfolk’, Agricultural History Review, 36 (1988), 132–44; John McDonnell, ‘Upland Pennine Hamlets’, Northern History, 26 (1990), 20–39 (p. 27). 44

Hatcher, ‘Great Slump’, pp. 248–54; Britnell, ‘English Economy and the Government’, pp. 89–116. 45

Postan, ‘Fifteenth Century’, p. 163 (Essays, pp. 44–45).

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economic change has received more concentrated attention than any other since 1950.46 Many towns, including some of the largest, had fewer inhabitants in 1525 than in 1377. Alan Dyer compared population estimates for 108 towns and calculated a net loss of only 8.1 per cent between those two years, which he argued to be appreciably less than the decline in total population.47 On the other hand, a recent reinterpretaton of the evidence by Stephen Rigby shows that when numbers of taxpayers in the one hundred towns for which there are tax returns in 1377 and 1524 (excluding London) are compared with their respective county populations for those dates their share of the total declined from 15.6 per cent to 13.7 per cent, which would suggest a decline in the urban proportion outside London.48 These figures represent the outcome of complex fluctuations, varying between towns, and cannot be said to define a single trend. Part of any loss is likely to have occurred during the last quarter of the fourteenth century, or even in the early sixteenth, reducing any overall fifteenth-century decline to modest proportions. The adverse effects resulting from a population decline of this magnitude could have been offset by increased per capita output.49 If London’s population grew by a quarter, from forty thousand to fifty thousand, between 1400 and 1500, this would have partly offset the impact of falling urban populations in the shires.50 Urban history therefore no longer has much force as independent evidence of declining national income during the fifteenth century at this level of aggregation. Insofar as phases of industrial depression affected urban employment they reduced both output and consumption, so a sceptical general conclusion is compatible with the belief that urban problems contributed to particular periods of recession.51

46

For a brief recent overview, see Richard H. Britnell, ‘The Economy of British Towns, 1300–1540’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, vol. I: 600–1540, ed. by David M. Palliser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 313–33. 47 Alan Dyer, ‘Urban Decline in England, 1377–1525’, in Towns in Decline, ed. by Terry R . Slater (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000), pp. 278–81. See also Dyer, Decline and Growth in English Towns, 1400–1640 (London: Macmillan, 1991), and Dyer, ‘Appendix: Ranking Lists of Medieval Towns’, in Cambridge Urban History of Britain, I, 747–70. 48

Stephen H. Rigby, ‘Urban Population in Late Medieval England: The Evidence of the Lay Subsidies’ (paper delivered at the Ninth Anglo-American Seminar on the Medieval Economy and Society, Lincoln, 8 July 2007). 49

Dyer, Standards of Living, pp. 202, 207.

50

Caroline M. Barron, London in the Later Middle Ages: Government and People, 1200–1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 4. 51

Hatcher, ‘Great Slump’, pp. 266–70.

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Evidence of significant industrial growth in some branches of the textile industry is independent of evidence for urban development; it is implied in the rising level of cloth exports. Postan was aware of this trend, and of instances of sustained fifteenthcentury development. In reviewing Eleanora Carus-Wilson’s The Overseas Trade of Bristol (1937) he commented that ‘the bulk of the evidence merely goes to illustrate the continuous growth of Bristol’s trade and shipping in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which not even the economic stagnation and the disorders of Henry VI’s reign could interrupt’.52 But selected dynamic industries, manors, towns, or ports with overall economic growth do not imply economic growth without more quantitative evidence of their bearing on the economy as a whole. The woollen textile industry, despite its prominence in export trade, was a small sector of the economy; Postan estimated that in 1400 it directly occupied little more than 0.65 per cent of the population, and, if the basis of his estimate is right, it is still likely to have employed no more than 1.5 per cent in 1500.53 These figures need to be multiplied several times to allow for the impact of industrial production upon other sectors of the economy, but their implications for economic growth, in the context of contemporary changes in rural society, remain subdued through much of the century. In any case, the growth of cloth exports was far from continuous and was offset by a heavy decline in exports of raw wool. If we compare the total value of cloth and wool shipments in 1401–10 and 1491–1500, using John Munro’s average prices for both wool and cloth, the result shows no sustained trend (Table 2). The best evidence for sustained growth comes in the rebound from the midfifteenth-century depression, rather than earlier. Taken together with evidence for agrarian history, the performance of exports strengthens the argument for prolonged economic difficulties between the 1420s and the 1470s followed by some aggregate economic growth in the last three decades of the century.

Population Postan in 1950 was, as he remained, sceptical of estimates of total medieval English population that required the piling up of one assumption after another, regarding

52 53

Economic History Review, 8 (1938), 202–03 (p. 203).

Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, p. 232 (Essays, p. 198). The recalculation for 1500 assumes simply (and generously) that the combined volume of exports and domestic consumption had doubled from fifty thousand to one hundred thousand cloths a year, that the implied employment had doubled from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand man/years, and that the population in 1500 was two million.

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Table 2. Average annual values of combined wool and cloth exports at constant prices, 1401–10 to 1491–1500 (decadal averages). total value at total value at cloths sacks cloth price woolsack 1401–10 prices 1491–1500 (no.) (no.) (£) price (£) (£) prices (£) 1401–10 31,657 13,922 1.833 5.8145 138,983.71 160,746.79 1411–20 27,763 13,487 129,316.48 148,033.00 1421–30 41,695 13,696 156,069.18 186,078.76 1431–40 45,122 7377 125,605.88 160,240.98 1441–50 49,421 9398 145,238.06 182,790.76 1451–60 35,534 8058 111,991.09 138,614.48 1461–70 33,462 8237 109,234.00 134,116.80 1471–80 58,612 9299 161,509.48 206,581.55 1481–90 51,082 8858 145,142.58 184,205.59 1491–1500 63,361 8149 2.648 5.525 163,527.15 212,803.15 Sources: Anthony R. Bridbury, Medieval English Clothmaking: An Economic Survey (London: Heinemann, 1982), appendix E, pp. 116–17 (export data); John H. Munro, ‘The Symbiosis of Towns and Textiles: Urban Institutions and the Changing Fortunes of Cloth Manufacturing in the Low Countries and England, 1270–1570’, Journal of Early Modern History, 3 (1999), 1–74 (table 2, p. 50) (prices).

them as too insecure to serve as a foundation for the discussion of economic change.54 He did not even enumerate manorial tenants at different times, probably because he was aware of the number of subtenants who would be unobservable.55 His renunciation of aggregate estimates, frequently repeated, though commonly ignored by his critics, meant that he was obliged to discuss population change using indirect evidence. In this pursuit he indeed deployed more documentation from the fifteenth century than Russell had engaged with, but it was more unreliable than he was prepared to allow. The principal quantitative series to hand — prices, wages, rents — were not the most appropriate for his purpose; with some justification he

54

Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, p. 236 (Essays, p. 188); Michael M. Postan, ‘Medieval Agrarian Society in its Prime: England’, in The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. I: The Agrarian Life of the Middle Ages, ed. by Postan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), pp. 561–63; Postan, Medieval Economy and Society, pp. 27–31. 55

Carte Nativorum: A Peterborough Abbey Cartulary of the Fourteenth Century, ed. by Christopher N. L. Brooke and Michael M. Postan, Northamptonshire Record Society, 30 (Northampton: Northamptonshire Record Society, 1960), p. lxiii; Postan, Medieval Economy and Society, pp. 28, 136. See also the caveats in Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society, pp. 240–43.

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spoke of his evidence as ‘ambiguous’ and ‘complex’.56 As Thomas Hollingsworth observed in his criticism of Postan’s methodology, ‘economic evidence for population change [. . .] is never very good because of the uncertainty of how economic change affects population’.57 The argument from rising wages, which Postan derived from the work of Beveridge,58 has similar weaknesses. It presupposes that labour scarcity resulted from a crisis of labour supply rather than a surge of demand, and so depends on Postan’s prior rejection of interpretations of the fifteenth century as an age of recovery and growth.59 More recent indices of real wages provided by David Farmer suggest that they improved up to 1466 as a result of money wages rising faster than prices, particularly in the first decade of the century, the later 1430s, and the 1450s (Table 2). By implication, a decline in the labour supply was one of the problems faced by employers in the mid-century slump.60 Data for agricultural wages peters out from 1466, but builders’ wages rose little after that point. The figures imply tight labour markets through much of the century, especially for skilled labour, especially in the midcentury slump, but it is not obvious that the causes of rising wages were uniform. Fortunately population history is no longer so dependent on arguments from economic evidence, and comparison of what we know now and what was known in 1950 should give heart to waverers in this particular area of discussion. The validity of Postan’s arguments can no longer be evaluated without reference to more recent local studies. Some of the best data derives from a few documented manors where all males over the age of twelve owed a fixed annual hundredpenny. Most manors for which there is such evidence show some reduction without subsequent recovery; Great Waltham, High Easter, and Stebbing in Essex all experienced ongoing population loss after 1400, continuing in the latter two villages after 1450.61 Kibworth 56

Postan, ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, p. 241 (Essays, p. 208).

57

Thomas H. Hollingsworth, Historical Demography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 383. 58

William H. Beveridge, ‘Wages in the Winchester Manors’, Economic History Review, 7 (1936), 22–43. 59 For Postan’s awareness of this point, see ‘Some Agrarian Evidence’, pp. 234–35 (Essays, pp. 200–01). It is restated in another context in Michael M. Postan and John Hatcher, ‘Population and Class Relations in Feudal Society’, Past and Present, 78 (1978), 24–37 (pp. 27–28). 60 61

Britnell, ‘Economic Context’, pp. 43–44; Hatcher, ‘Great Slump’, pp. 244–45.

Lawrence R . Poos, ‘The Rural Population of Essex in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 38 (1985), 515–30, and Poos, A Rural Society after the Black Death: Essex 1350–1525 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 91–110.

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Harcourt in Leicestershire shows a steep drop between 1400 and 1450 though the evidence is not to be trusted after about 1430.62 At Holywell-cum-Needingworth, formerly in Huntingdonshire but now in Cambridgeshire, the number of adults is estimated to have fallen between 1400 and 1450 by 32 per cent, from 134 to 91.63 Though no total estimates are possible, figures from Havering in Essex suggest that population declined between 1408 and 1430 and remained at the lower level until at least 1452.64 The number of male inhabitants in five Wealden parishes fell in four out of the five between 1444 and 1487. Some tithingpenny figures from the Aquila Honour in east Sussex shows a decrease from 1478 male inhabitants in the mid-1440s to 969 in the 1490s and, after twenty years of mild recovery, a slump again to even lower figures in the late 1520s. Losses in east Sussex were particularly severe between 1450 and 1456, which tallies with the surge in wage rates at that time.65 Another source of direct demographic data is that of male replacement rates, which have been assessed from a variety of sources. If a hundred men leave among them a hundred adult sons this is measured as a replacement rate of 1.0, and population levels may be assumed to be about stable. Such evidence is more problematic than it may appear, but some at least of the weaknesses are likely to result in overoptimistic rather than over-pessimistic conclusions. Thomas Hollingsworth, whose data represent a narrowly socially stratified sample, supplied evidence that came close to supporting Russell’s interpretation of population change, though even he thought the nadir of English population came after 1400 — his alternative models suggested 1421 or 1444. He argued in favour of positive replacement rates and significant recovery of population from the 1440s.66 However, both Sylvia Thrupp and Robert Gottfried, whose samples are less socially exclusive, placed the beginnings of recovery later. Thrupp’s figures, from the archdeaconry records of Essex

62 David Postles, ‘Demographic Change in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, in the Later Middle Ages’, Local Population Studies, 48 (1992), 44–55. 63

Edwin B. DeWindt, Land and People in Holywell-cum-Needingworth: Structures of Tenure and Patterns of Social Organization in an East Midlands Village, 1252–1457 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1971), p. 169. 64

Marjorie K. McIntosh, Autonomy and Community: The Royal Manor of Havering, 1200–1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 128. 65 Mavis Mate, ‘The Occupation of the Land: Kent and Sussex’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. III: 1348–1500, ed. by Edward Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 119–36 (pp. 127–28). 66

Hollingsworth, Historical Demography, pp. 375–88.

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and St Albans, imply that the number of sons per male testator remained below 1.0 between the 1420s and the 1470s, with only a slight increase in the course of that period. The evidence for the archdeaconry of Essex continues up to 1492, and in the last twelve years the replacement rate was still only 1.18.67 Gottfried’s figures from wills in London and eastern England suggest that population continued to decline through the 1430s, 1440s, and 1450s, though at a decreasing rate, and that the population ‘had at least stopped declining’ maybe in the 1460s, perhaps only in the 1470s.68 Since Gottfried’s evidence does not extend beyond 1480 it is impossible to interpret the significance of his data for the final decades of the century. Evidence of mortality from the monasteries of Canterbury, Winchester, and Durham collected by Barbara Harvey and John Hatcher indicate the continuing severity of epidemics after 1450 and suggests that monks’ expectation of life fell after 1435.69 Similar results from centres so far apart suggest that high mortality was a feature of the nation as a whole, particularly, perhaps, of urban environments, and that ‘the late-medieval demographic slump was even more prolonged and severe than was once thought’.70 Pamela Nightingale has challenged the significance of this evidence of rising mortality in the later fifteenth century, but even she does not suppose that there was significant population growth before 1500.71 All these independent types of evidence agree on the probability of some continuing decline of population long after 1400, and all are superior to the evidence available in 1950. It may now be stated as an uncontroversial proposition that ‘the fall in population continued from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-fifteenth century, and there is little sign of real recovery until about 1520’.72 Postan was right to

67

Sylvia L. Thrupp, ‘The Problem of Replacement Rates in Late Medieval England’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 18 (1965), 101–19 (p. 115). 68

Robert S. Gottfried, Epidemic Disease in Fifteenth-Century England: The Medical Response and the Demographic Consequences (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1978), pp. 206, 208. 69

Barbara Harvey, Living and Dying in England, 1100–1540: The Monastic Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 135–45; John Hatcher, ‘Mortality in the Fifteenth Century: Some New Evidence’, Economic History Review, 39 (1986), 19–38; John Hatcher, Alan J. Piper, and David Stone, ‘Monastic Mortality: Durham Priory, 1395–1529’, Economic History Review, 59 (2006), 667–87. 70

Hatcher, Piper, and Stone, ‘Monastic Mortality’, p. 685.

71

Pamela Nightingale, ‘Some New Evidence of Crises and Trends of Mortality in Late Medieval England’, Past and Present, 187 (2005), 62–68. 72

Dyer, ‘Deserted Medieval Villages’, p. 31. Similar comments are made, in different contexts, by Mark Bailey, ‘Demographic Decline in Late Medieval England: Some Thoughts on Recent

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challenge Russell’s assumption of continuous population growth between 1430 and 1545 and was justified in speaking about declining population well into the fifteenth century. However the evidence also suggests that the rate of population decline decelerated in the fifteenth century and was perhaps reversed by 1500. Perhaps the rate of loss after 1450 was lower than Postan would have supposed.

Final Comment The strongest case for fifteenth-century economic growth must derive from evidence of rising standards of welfare. But Postan was probably right not to interpret these more beneficial features of change as evidence for economic growth. Even generous assumptions about rising real incomes need not imply that the population decline of the fifteenth century was accompanied by aggregate growth. The real wages of skilled workers probably grew faster than average earnings. But if population declined, from 2.5 million to 2.0 million (or from 2.25 million to 1.8 million) over the course of the century, even a per capita average increase of 25 per cent in real incomes, corresponding to the increase in the real wages of skilled workmen, would leave national income unchanged. And this supposition depends upon generous assumptions about the relationship between the wage rates and total earnings of skilled workers.73 Yet in attacking the view that the fifteenth century was an age of economic growth, Postan’s generalizations were overconfident. His contention that ‘almost every statistical index’ registers decline relates at best to a lengthy and troubled period between 1435 and 1455, perhaps slightly longer. For the century as a whole, and even for the period 1420–80, it overstates the case. In the last quarter of the century there was perhaps some economic growth, however modest, to be attributed principally to the benefits of overseas trade. Postan’s victory against the historians who proposed population growth does not hand him a clear overall victory for his belief that declining national income was a normal feature of the entire fifteenth century. Research’, Economic History Review, 49 (1996), pp. 1–19 (p. 1); Anthony J. Pollard, North-Eastern England during the Wars of the Roses: Lay Society, War and Politics, 1450–1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 48; and Richard Smith, ‘Human Resources’, in The Countryside of Medieval England, ed. by Grenville Astill and Annie Grant (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), pp. 188–212 (p. 192). 73

This calculation does not purport to be a best estimate. If the incomes of skilled workers rose faster than average incomes, declining population of this magnitude would imply a contraction of national income.

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It is surely time, however, to abandon battles between optimism and pessimism. Neither the pessimistic nor the optimistic argument for growth during the century as a whole has proved worth the emotional energy that each has generated. Between 1400 and 1500 the change in real national income was probably less than 10 per cent either way,74 and there is now no case for supposing that there was any continuous trend. This may look like calling sour grapes, but time seems to be telling that the energies of historians interested in the fifteenth-century economy are better spent in more subtle analyses of development. There are already, in fact, alternative agenda, and Christopher Dyer’s has been the most important voice in establishing them.75 Debate about economic growth or contraction has been supported by parallel discussions concerning landlord-tenant relations, settlement patterns, diet and standards of living, relations between town and country, the effects of war, the causes and impact of monetary change, and so on. Some responses to the problems and challenges of the fifteenth century had lasting significance for the context in which future growth would be framed.76 Most notable of these, perhaps, were the decline of serfdom,77 the emergence of large tenant farming,78 the multiplication of enclosures,79 the establishment of exporting cloth industries,80

74

Mayhew proposes a decline of between 17 and 25 per cent between 1300 and 1500: Nicholas J. Mayhew, ‘Population, Money Supply, and the Velocity of Circulation in England, 1300–1700’, Economic History Review, 48 (1995), 238–57 (p. 244). 75

Most recently in Christopher Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), and Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002). 76

See, in particular, the comments in Dyer, Age of Transition?, pp. 40–45.

77

Rodney H. Hilton, The Decline of Serfdom in Medieval England (London: Macmillan,

1969). 78

E.g., Christopher Dyer, ‘Were There Any Capitalists in Fifteenth-Century England?’, in Enterprise and Individuals in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. by Jennifer Kermode (Stroud: Sutton, 1991), pp. 1–24; Dyer, ‘A Suffolk Farmer in the Fifteenth Century’, Agricultural History Review, 55 (2007), 1–22. 79

Dyer, Age of Transition?, pp. 66–75; Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society, pp. 331–39; Dyer, Warwickshire Farming, pp. 25–28; Rodney H. Hilton, ‘Old Enclosure in the West Midlands: A Hypothesis about their Late Medieval Development’, in Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism: Essays in Medieval Social History (London: Hambledon, 1985), pp. 36–47. 80

Eleanora M. Carus-Wilson, ‘The Woollen Industry’, in Cambridge Economic History of Europe, II, 674–90.

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and the growing economic power of London.81 Even for historians predominantly interested in questions of economic performance, there is a wealth of possible research into shifts in demand at home and abroad as generators of short-term or medium-term instability.82 It is already evident, too, that the social and political implications of economic instability were far-reaching. They richly deserve the same degree of attention that has been given to those of more recent centuries.

81

Barron, London in the Later Middle Ages, pp. 101–17; Britnell, ‘English Economy and the Government’, pp. 95–97. 82

See the comments of Hatcher, ‘Great Slump’, pp. 237–40.

S URVIVING R ECESSION : E NGLISH B OROUGH C OURTS AND C OMMERCIAL C ONTRACTION , 1350–1500 Richard Goddard

T

he borough court represented the beating heart of medieval urban communities. Borough courts, generally held every three weeks, dealt with a range of civil actions. These included litigation on trespass and broken contract, pleas relating to real property and the enrolment of charters, admissions to burgage tenure, and licences to trade within the town granted to stall holders and other non-resident traders. One of the most common private civil pleas litigated in borough courts were those of debt and detinue. Individuals were sued when goods had been bought on credit and not paid for at the due date or money had been loaned and not repaid on time. Thus, a typical example comes from Nottingham’s borough court in 1353.1 John of Sutton complained of William de Harthill and Agatha his wife in a plea of debt for 9s. 3d. for malt sold to Agatha on 1 December 1352 to be paid back the following Christmas. Because Harthill and his wife had not settled the debt at Christmas, Sutton sued them in the local court early the following year. Cases of detinue (the unjust detention of goods) in borough courts similarly often involved traders suing customers for failing to pay for goods or services by an agreed date.2 Indeed some detinue pleas in Winchester were amended by the scribe to pleas of debt, suggesting some confusion on the part of the litigants as to which plea was appropriate.3 Debt pleas took up a significant proportion of a borough court’s time. In both Exeter and Colchester in the 1380s

1

Nottinghamshire Archive Office (hereafter NAO), CA 1264/22v . I am indebted to Dr Trevor Foulds for kindly allowing me access to his calendar of the Nottingham borough court rolls. 2

See, for example, NAO, CA 1264/13v.

3

See, for example, Hampshire Record Office (hereafter HRO), W/D1/7, fol. 6r.

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debt litigation accounted for about 85 per cent of the courts’ business.4 In the smaller town of Nottingham, between 1395 and 1401, debt pleas represented 84 per cent of court business; in Ramsey, a smaller town still, between 1399 and 1410, debt litigation made up 74 per cent of the pleas.5 This high level of urban debt litigation speaks to the highly commercialized nature of later medieval English society.6 However, the century and a half after 1350 was also a period of acute demographic crisis, dwindling money supply, and, by the mid-fifteenth century, severe economic contraction.7 What impact did these economic upheavals have upon credit and debt litigation in borough courts? Surprisingly little work has been carried out on debt in towns.8 Rodney Hilton examined debt pleas as part of his important studies of Halesowen and Thornbury.9 Maryanne Kowaleski used Exeter’s borough court records, and particularly its debt pleas, in her detailed and

4

Maryanne Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade in Medieval Exeter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 202–05; Richard H. Britnell, Growth and Decline in Colchester, 1300–1525 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 98–99, 107–08. 5 NAO, CA 1281–85; The Court Rolls of Ramsey, Hepmangrove and Bury, 1268–1600, ed. by E. B. DeWindt (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1990), pp. 51–53. 6

For an overview of commercialization after 1350, see Richard H. Britnell, The Commercialisation of English Society, 1000–1500 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), pp. 155–203. For credit, see Michael M. Postan, ‘Credit in Medieval Trade’, Economic History Review, 1 (1928), 28–64, and Postan, ‘Private Financial Instruments in Medieval England’, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 23 (1930), 33–54. However, neither of these are concerned with debts in local borough courts. 7

John Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy, 1348–1530 (London: Macmillan, 1977); Hatcher, ‘The Great Slump of the Mid-Fifteenth Century’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 237–72; P. Nightingale, ‘Monetary Contraction and Mercantile Credit in Later Medieval England’, Economic History Review, 43 (1990), 560–75. 8

For rural credit, see Chistopher Briggs, ‘Creditors and Debtors and their Relationships at Oakington, Cottenham and Dry Drayton (Cambridgeshire), 1291–1350’, and Phillipp R. Schofield, ‘Access to Credit in the Early Fourteenth-Century Countryside’, in Credit and Debt in Medieval England c.1180–1350, ed. by Phillipp R. Schofield and Nicholas J. Mayhew (Oxford: Oxbow, 2002), pp. 127–48, 106–26. 9

Rodney H. Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism: Essays in Medieval Social History (London: Hambledon, 1985), p. 24; Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanisation: The Seigneurial Borough of Thornbury in the Middle Ages’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Zvi Razi and Richard Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 482–517 (pp. 503–04).

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influential study of regional trade in the later fourteenth century.10 Perhaps the most innovative recent use of borough court debt pleas has been Christopher Dyer’s work on urban hinterlands.11 However, none of these have studied borough court debts in relation to the fifteenth-century economic downturn. This chapter will survey the key characteristics of that litigation and will examine the shifting patterns of credit and debt litigation resulting from the mid-fifteenth-century economic slump.

Credit and Debt in the Borough Court A study of debt litigation in borough courts suffers from a number of impediments. Firstly, and unlike manorial court rolls, long series of surviving borough court rolls are comparatively rare.12 Two courts where fairly complete sets of rolls have survived are those from Nottingham and Winchester, and evidence from these courts has been used extensively here.13 Furthermore, despite high numbers of debt suits within surviving borough court rolls (see Tables 3 and 4 below), the pleas themselves can be almost bereft of any detail. It is common, for example, for a debt plea to be entered on the rolls without the reason for the debt or the amount being

10

Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 89–90, 202–05, 213–14.

11

Christopher Dyer, ‘The Consumer and the Market in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 42 (1989), 305–27; Dyer, ‘Market Towns and the Countryside in Late Medieval England’, Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire, 31 (1996), 17–35. 12 The seminal work on the workings of borough courts is Borough Customs, vol. II, ed. by Mary Bateson, Selden Society, 21 (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1906), pp. cxlv–clvi. Examples of published court rolls include A History of the Ancient Manor and Town of Basingstoke in the County of Southampton, ed. by Francis J. Baigent and James E. Millard (Basingstoke: C. J. Jacob, 1889), pp. 247–309; Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. II: 1377–99, ed. by Thomas Bruce Dilks, Somerset Record Society, 53 (Frome: Somerset Record Society, 1938); Selected Rolls of the Chester City Courts; Late Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Centuries, ed. by A. Hopkins, Chetham Society, 3rd series, 2 (Manchester: Chetham Society, 1950); Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. II: 1327–1509, ed. by Mary Bateson (London: C. J. Clay and Sons, 1901), pp. 171–85. 13

NAO, CA 1263–1379; Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. I: 1155–1399, ed. by William H. Stevenson (Nottingham: Thomas Forman, 1882), pp. ix–xi; Trevor Foulds, Jill Hughes, and Michael Jones, ‘The Nottingham Borough Court Rolls in the Reign of Henry VI (1422–57)’, Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 97 (1993), 74–87; HRO, W/D1/7–63; City Government of Winchester from the Records of the XIV and XV Centuries, ed. by John S. Furley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1923); Derek Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, 2 vols, Winchester Studies, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), I, 21–22.

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cited. In Thornbury only about half of the debt cases have any details beyond the names of the parties involved.14 A typical example from Nottingham runs as follows: ‘John le Ewer complains of Walter of Rempstone in a plea of debt’.15 A small proportion of suits fail to reach any conclusion and just disappear from the rolls. This might be because the threat of further legal action was used to encourage defendants to pay up. The court attempted to fine those who settled out of court.16 This combined with the often unwieldy number of cases presented in the rolls makes them difficult to work with. This is reflected in editions of borough documents that tend to record only ‘select pleas’.17 This is understandable given pressure of space combined with large numbers of frustratingly unrevealing suits. However, about half of the debt pleas at Nottingham, like Thornbury, and nearly 60 per cent of the pleas of detinue, do have some level of detail. Dispute settlement in the borough court was both cheap and fast. The 4d. cost of making a plaint was not a great sacrifice, even for a small debt. It was rarely more than three months from the instigation of a debt suit to its resolution. Much can be learned from the debt pleas about the local economy, about the mechanism of the local money market, and about the individuals who lent and borrowed money in English borough courts in the later Middle Ages. The rolls reveal, for example, both the wholesale and retail sides of the urban economy. In Nottingham, pleas involving the victualling trades were generally for very small amounts: 8d. for bread, 12d. for horse bread, 18d. for meat, and so on, probably reflecting the retail side of the trade.18 But there were big, presumably wholesale, players in these trades too: Richard Wylbram sued for 14s. 5d. for ale, and Henry de Plumptre instigated a plea for 20s. 8d. for herring sold.19 The two levels of Nottingham’s textile and metal trades are also evident in the rolls. The retail side included the shilling owed to the draper John Wybram for a pair of hose and the 18d. owed to John de Kykdon for fulling cloth. On the wholesale side there was the 14s. owed 14

Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanisation’, p. 502.

15

A case from 1360. NAO, CA 1269/7v .

16

See, for example, NAO, CA 1294/11v .

17

See, for example, Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. II: 1399–1485, ed. by William H. Stevenson (Nottingham: Thomas Forman, 1883), pp. 148, 212–14; History of the Ancient Manor and Town of Basingstoke, ed. by Baigent and Millard, pp. 255–56, 259; Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. II, ed. by Dilks, pp. 14, 129–35; Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. II, ed. by Bateson, p. 175. 18

NAO, CA 1277a/24r, 1305/9r, 1305/12r.

19

NAO, CA 1305/12r, 1305/17r.

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to William Lech for wool and the 16s. owed to Richard Berman for cloth.20 In 1395 Robert de Goram sued Geoffrey Lorymer over 11d. worth of iron; in 1410 Agnes Gye sold twelve stones of lead to a lead beater with a very poor credit record, called John Stanley, for 7s.21 The majority of these suits were for credit on goods. In 1408 John Skitson sued Robert de Ockley for 28s. 4d. for a long list of goods including cloth, silk, girdles, gloves, thread, and a comb ‘lately bought from him at Nottingham’.22 The plea continues that Ockley should have paid for these at an agreed date. Ockley, incidentally one of the court bailiffs, was sued for not repaying the outstanding sum. Similarly, in 1450 William Wroo bought fifteen yards of cloth from William Ilkeston for 24s.23 Wroo paid 15s. when he took delivery of the cloth. They then agreed that he would repay the outstanding 9s. nine months later. He failed to do so, and Ilkeston took him to court to recover the money. A small percentage of debt pleas (about 4 per cent) are described explicitly as loans. In 1372, Richard Haukeborn lent Adam Packer 28d., as the plea states, ‘from his purse’.24 Amounts of the few pleas that can be identified as cash loans were not large, usually 2s.–3s.; the largest in this period was the 17s. 6d. lent to the tailor John Corbet.25 The use to which these loans were put is not identified within the pleas. The amounts borrowed, or given on credit, were small. In Exeter in the 1380s the mean amount for credit pleas was 11s. 7d., but 59 per cent were lower than 5s.26 In Colchester the mean debt amount in the late fourteenth century was 10s.27 In Nottingham amounts ranged from 4d. for a tub bought on credit to 40s. for a consignment of nails. The mean sum was 5s. 8d., but amounts varied widely with 62 per cent being below 5s. In Ramsey, 82 per cent were for amounts of less than 5s., and debt pleas rarely exceeded 10s.28 In the small town of Thornbury, the mean

20

NAO, CA 1305/9r, 1305/16r, 1305/19r.

21

NAO, CA 1294/10r , 1305/21r . For other suits featuring John Stanley, see NAO, CA 1305/23r, 1305/9r, 1305/11v, 1305/16r. 22

NAO, CA 1304/2v .

23

NAO, CA 1338/4v .

24

NAO, CA 1277/22r.

25

NAO, CA 1305/11v.

26

Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 89–90, 202–03.

27

Britnell, Growth and Decline in Colchester, pp. 98–99, 107–08.

28

Court Rolls of Ramsey, ed. by DeWindt, pp. 51–53.

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sum was 4s. 7d.29 This suggests that the larger and more commercially vibrant the town, the higher the amounts pursued in court. However, borough court pleas rarely exceeded 40s., because of the rule whereby debt pleas over that amount could not be heard in local courts without a writ.30 This ruling seems to have been generally observed by borough courts. Wealthy merchants, with large cash reserves, tended to live in larger regional centres like Nottingham, Winchester, Exeter, and Bridgwater. Thus the court roll evidence reveals the presence of multiple lenders in the urban money market. These were individuals who regularly extended credit or lent money to others in the region. In the late fourteenth century and early fifteenth century it was men like Bridgwater’s John Cole and William Criche, Leicester’s Roger de Belgrave, Nottingham’s John de Normanton and John Tannesley, and Winchester’s John Oyewy and Nicholas le Woder. These businessmen were strikingly similar in many respects: all were multiple lenders; they were all members of the urban oligarchy and part of the administrative machinery; many, like Belgrave and Tannesley, Oyewy and Woder, were city mayors or aldermen and often leading members of the local gild merchant. All were very wealthy. Both Criche and Tannesley left wills with bequests of large sums of money to religious houses and family members. Tannesley, for example, left £220 for his family. Oyewy and Woder were two of Winchester’s wealthiest taxpayers and both were multiple property owners. Woder, for example, held fourteen properties in Winchester.31 It was only the wealthy who could afford to tie up their capital in complex chains of credit. In Exeter, as elsewhere, these oligarchic creditors won their debt cases more often than other citizens, suggesting that the possession of a high economic and political profile greased the wheels of commerce and lowered transaction costs.32

29

Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanisation’, p. 499.

30

John S. Beckerman, ‘The Forty Shilling Jurisdictional Limit in Medieval English Personal Actions’, in Legal History Studies 1972, ed. by Daffyd Jenkins (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1975), pp. 110–17. 31

Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. II, ed. by Dilks, pp. 2–3, 5, 10, 16, 142, 149, 151, 175, 180, 210, 214, 228–31, 233, Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. III: 1400–1445, ed. by Thomas Bruce Dilks, Somerset Record Society, 58 (Frome: Somerset Record Society, 1943), p. 17; Records of the Borough of Leicester, vol. II, ed. by Bateson, pp. 93, 131, 137, 158, 173–77; NAO, CA 1277/8 r, 1277/23r; Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. I, ed. by Stevenson, pp. 258, 284, 425, vol. II, ed. by Stevenson, pp. 68, 426; HRO, W/D1/16/fol. 3r, W/D1/16/fol. 4v; Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, II, 1229, 1311. 32

Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 113–14, 219–20.

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But despite the presence of multiple lenders, their pleas as plaintiffs comprise only a tiny proportion (about 8 per cent in Nottingham) of the debt pleas heard in the early fifteenth century. Most litigants in borough court debt suits were small-scale traders and artisans extending credit to their customers or looking for business finance. In Chester, the majority of the suitors were ‘ordinary tradesmen complaining of loss of commodities or loss of credit’ and seem ‘to have been neither very rich nor very poor’.33 In Nottingham, men like Adam Packer were typical. As we have seen, in 1372 he borrowed 28d., but a few years earlier he was employing men to pack sacks of wool and later, at the end of the decade, was selling ale (against the assize).34 Whilst not one of the urban elite of Nottingham, he seems to have embraced a number of commercial opportunities, and perhaps his debt represents finance for one of his commercial ventures. The credit relationships found in most towns involved an element of reciprocity whereby those that extended credit or lent money also borrowed it. In Winchester in the 1370s Nicholas Farber and Richard Onde were both multiple lenders, while at the same time receiving credit or borrowing money.35 In Nottingham in the same decade William Toller was plaintiff in three separate debt suits and defendant in one; John de Normanton also sued three times for debt and was himself sued once; in 1410, Thomas de Stanley was a plaintiff in three debt pleas and a defendant in five; and in 1440 John Dorham sued once for debt while being sued himself three times.36 This reciprocal characteristic of the credit market relates to the chain-like nature of medieval business itself. In the wool trade, for example, woolmen bought wool on credit from the growers; merchants bought wool from them on credit; and foreign buyers bought the same wool from the merchants in the same way, representing a long chain of credit. Potentially, one late credit repayment somewhere within the chain could seriously disrupt the entire network, as each merchant depended upon his or her customers — one stage further on in the credit chain — to pay back the money on time so that they could pay back their creditors one stage further up the line. Credit chains were, potentially, very fragile matrixes and this helps explain need for speedy resolution of debt suits in borough courts.

33

Selected Rolls of the Chester City Courts, ed. by Hopkins, p. lv.

34

NAO, CA 1268/1r; Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. I, ed. by Stevenson, p. 204.

35

See, for example, HRO, W/D1/16/fols 4r, 13 v, 21 r.

36

NAO, CA 1277/8r , 1277/18r , 1277/21r, 1277/22 r , 1277/23r, 1305/8r–9 r, 1305/11v, 1305/16r , 1305/21r , 1305/23r , 1330/3r–v , 1330/4v . For John de Normanton, see Records of the Borough of Nottingham, vol. I, ed. by Stevenson, p. 425.

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Whilst the details of each link are often conspicuously absent from the documentation, the principle of credit chains can be seen. In Nottingham in the early fifteenth century Richard Andrew borrowed an unspecified amount from one of the town’s principal lenders, John del Heth. Within a short space of time, Richard Andrew (and three partners) lent another unspecified amount to William Prentys. This might well represent a chain of some kind because Prentys failed to repay his debt and was sued for the amount; Andrew and his partners were, in the same court, sued by del Heth for not repaying their loan.37 Thus the late repayment by Prentys resulted in a serious interruption of the credit chain and the instigation of a whole raft of debt suits in the local court. Richard Andrew and his colleagues clearly did not know what a bad risk William Prentys would turn out to be. Two weeks after being sued for this debt, Prentys was accused of breaking into another Nottingham resident’s house, raping and abducting his wife, and stealing 20 marks in cash and other goods and chattels worth £40.38 Fear over broken credit agreements can be seen higher up the mercantile food chain as well. In the 1460s and 1470s John Kendall, cloth merchant of Bridgwater, entered into a large number of credit agreements in the borough court. While Kendall tended to extend credit he also borrowed. He, and a business associate from Dorset, borrowed £60 from William Colet, a London mercer, and later can be seen extending smaller sums of credit to various tradesmen and merchants, such as the Welsh tailor William ap Powell and Bernard Sarnewte, a merchant from Melcombe Regis.39 While these agreements are not likely to be part of the same credit chain, they highlight how merchants became contractually tied to one another and why those in the middle of the chain, like John Kendall, both borrowed money from those higher up the chain and lent it to those lower down. The upper reaches of the credit chain often involved lenders from outside the local community. This can be seen most clearly in the records of the bonds enrolled in Statute Staple Courts.40 These royal courts were located only in larger English

37

NAO, CA 1305/8 r.

38

NAO, CA 1305/9 r.

39

Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. IV : 1445–1468, ed. by Thomas Bruce Dilks, Somerset Record Society, 60 (Frome: Somerset Record Society, 1948), pp. 134, 139; Bridgwater Borough Archives, vol. V : 1468–1485, ed. by R . W. Dunning and T. D. Tremlett, Somerset Record Society, 70 (Frome: Somerset Record Society, 1971), p. 5. 40

The certificates detailing defaulted transactions sent to Chancery survive in considerable numbers; see The National Archives: Public Record Office (Kew, London; hereafter TNA: PRO), C 241.

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towns and were available for anyone who required extra security, commonly those from the town’s commercial hinterland, to enrol high-value credit transactions.41 To return to the business dealings of William Toller, a regular litigant in Nottingham’s borough court in the 1370s, predominantly as a lender, it can be seen that at Lincoln’s Staple Court he borrowed £60 from William de Thornhaugh in 1371 and at Nottingham’s Staple Court he borrowed £20 from Thomas de Holland, a tanner from Ashbourne, in 1374.42 Both of these larger transactions suggest that Toller needed to deal with merchants from outside the rather small-scale Nottingham money market in order to raise the more substantial sums he needed. These may have been wholesale bulk purchases on credit. Toller at the same time also extended small sums of credit (30d., 30s., and 19d.) to various Nottingham inhabitants through the borough court, these representing the next link down in the commercial chain. These might have been retail sales at the very base of the credit chain. Interestingly while he sued in the borough court to recover these small debts, he himself was sued in the Statute Staple Court by his creditors, William de Thornhaugh and Thomas de Holland, for failing to repay the money he owed to them. The borough court then represented only one link, and one close to the bottom, of the complex web of credit transactions in the medieval period.

Credit, the Borough Court, and the Mid-Fifteenth-Century Depression What impact did the mid-fifteenth-century economic slump have upon these fragile credit chains and the courts that linked them together? The mid-fifteenth century in particular is considered by some historians as a bleak time for nearly all aspects of the English economy.43 It was a period of prolonged and marked population decline and a shortage of currency; foreign and domestic trade was significantly reduced; England’s agricultural economy similarly contracted; large towns 41

For Coventry, see The Statute Merchant Roll of Coventry 1392–1416, ed. by Alice Beardwood, Dugdale Society Publications, 17 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939); Richard Goddard, Lordship and Medieval Urbanisation: Coventry 1043–1355 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 257–89. 42 43

TNA: PRO, C 241/152/59, C 241/164/112 (b).

Michael M. Postan, ‘The Fifteenth Century’, Economic History Review, 9 (1939), 160–67; Hatcher, ‘Great Slump’. For an analysis of Postan’s arguments, see Richard Britnell, ‘Postan’s Fifteenth Century’, in this volume. For a useful summary of the debate on urban decline, see Alan Dyer, Decline and Growth in English Towns, 1400–1640, new edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 25–33.

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declined and rents fell. This is thought to have resulted in a reduced level of economic activity. Other historians, not least Chris Dyer, have looked at the same period not from the perspective of aggregate economic decline and seigneurial impoverishment, but from the vantage point of wage-earners and peasants who, in a period of labour shortages and cheap land, increased their standards of living.44 This is not the place to rehearse these arguments, but rather to see if the patterns of credit and debt pleas in borough courts can add in some way to this discussion. It is well known that the volume of credit and loan transactions in an economy is a reliable guide to the intensity of market exchanges in that economy. Recent evidence suggests that about 20 per cent of medieval debts were not paid back on time, thus inaugurating debt proceedings in court. In essence, the more credit that is extended to customers, or money lent to fund commercial ventures, the healthier is the economy.45 In these circumstances business people lend money because they feel confident that they will get their money back with ease. In periods of economic crisis confidence wanes and merchants are less likely to extend credit because of the increased risk of broken credit chains and customers defaulting on their debts. Therefore in periods of economic recession, like that posited for the mid-fifteenth century, the number of debt suits instigated in England’s borough courts should be reduced. For example, the number of Statute Staple debt certificates, which were used to recover bad debts in Chancery, nose-dived spectacularly after c. 1410.46 Merchants recognized very quickly the new realities of the marketplace and simply refused to lend, or lent much less, as long as the recession continued. Thus change in the volume of debt litigation in borough courts is ideal evidence with which to approach this subject. Such an analysis is immediately impeded by a lack of evidence. As seen above, there are large numbers of surviving borough court rolls for the fourteenth century, but this number contracts sharply in the

44

Christopher Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 126–210. For a critique of the ‘real wages’ analysis, see John Langdon and James Masschaele, ‘Commercial Activity and Population Growth in Medieval England’, Past and Present, 190 (2006), 35–82 (pp. 69–81). 45

P. Nightingale, ‘Norwich, London and the Regional Integration of Norfolk’s Economy in the First Half of the Fourteenth Century’, in Trade, Urban Hinterlands and Market Integration c. 1300–1600: A Collection of Working Papers Given at a Conference Organised by the Centre for Metropolitan History and Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, 7 July 1999, ed. by James A. Galloway, Centre for Metropolitan History Working Papers Series, 3 (London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2000), pp. 83–101 (p. 84). 46

TNA: PRO, C 241.

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fifteenth century. Leicester and Coventry’s borough court records do not survive past the 1380s. Furthermore even where court plea records do survive into the fifteenth century, such as at Bridgwater, Basingstoke, and Ramsey, rarely do they survive in continuous series that might permit statistical analysis. Therefore the following, taken as it is by aggregating the evidence from a number of towns, should be considered impressionistic. The relatively complete evidence from both Nottingham and Winchester allows much of the period to be viewed. Sample counts of debt pleas were taken roughly every five years between 1350 and 1500 where a full (or nearly full) annual run of courts could be analysed.47 For both Nottingham and Winchester all debt pleas litigated in the borough courts within a twelvemonth period were counted (Tables 3 and 4), allowing some comparison between the two towns. At Nottingham, however, before 1450 the ‘new suits’ or ‘new pleas’ at each court were identified separately, often under a separate rubric at the end of the folio. These Nottingham debt pleas were not, therefore, either repetitions or continuations of previous litigation (Table 3), thus making them a valuable gauge of economic activity. This practice was not continued in the post-1480 rolls at Nottingham. Throughout the period the court divided burgess pleas (wherein Nottingham burgesses sued each other) from forensic pleas (wherein a burgess sued or was sued by an outsider). In this analysis only the burgess pleas were counted. The Nottingham court records survive in a fragmentary form between the late 1440s and 1455, and there are no surviving court records between 1455 and 1481. At Winchester there was no differentiation between new pleas and others but, as at Nottingham, only burgess pleas were counted. The rolls survive almost continuously from 1350 to 1433, after which they are far more fragmentary (Table 4). These figures reflect the well-known post-plague expansion of the English economy of the later fourteenth century.48 Debt pleas reach their highest volume in both places from the 1360s until the 1420s. Derek Keene’s study of Winchester suggests that cloth production flourished there in the later fourteenth century.49 The debt figures for the city suggest Winchester merchants remained confident and continued to extend credit until the first decade of the fifteenth century. Very similar commercial expansion, coupled with growing numbers of debt pleas, can

47

Where the rolls were incomplete or damaged, as in NAO, CA 1320, 1322/I or HRO, W/D1/55, a monthly average was taken and then multiplied by twelve to allow comparability between rolls. 48

Hatcher, Plague, Population and the English Economy, pp. 31–35.

49

Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, I, 92, 299.

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Table 3. Nottingham borough court burgess debt pleas, 1350–1499 (source: NAO CA 1263–1379) (N=12,138). Year

Number of annual Number of annual debt pleas ‘new’ debt pleas 1352–55 413 153 1360 577 190 1365 583 189 1371–72 511 157 1375–76 819 318 1381–82 593 131 1385–87 775 189 1390–91 969 221 1395 926 206 1401 464 119 1405 550 157 1410 622 173 1415–16 922 193 1419–20 806 194 1423–24 534 104 1431–32 698* 147 1437–39 384 53 1442–43 329 47 1445–46 241 48 1481–82 157 1483–84 83 1491–92 97 1495–96 89 1498–99 96 * The rise in the number of debt suits after 1429/30 (NAO CA1321) is the result of an administrative change. In the burgess courts held from this time until 1455/56 (NAO CA1341), about 40 per cent of the pleas were not civil suits between individuals. Rather the bailiffs were being fined for not bringing defendants to court.

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Table 4. Winchester city court debt pleas, 1350–1473 (source: HRO W/D1/7–60) (N=12,670). Year 1350–51 1360–61 1365–66 1370–71 1375–76 1380–81 1385–86 1390–91 1395–96 1409–10 1414–15 1420–21 1423–24 1432–33 1454–55 1473

Annual number of debt pleas (percentage of total pleas) 217 318 378 619 556 1000 (78%) 1012 1090 (56%) 1108 (65%) 1596 (65%) 1044 (49%) 972 (44%) 612 (62%) 681 (47%) 708 759

be seen in Colchester, Exeter, Thornbury, and Ramsey at exactly the same time.50 But this post-plague period of boom and business confidence was unsustainable. Although the evidence is far from complete in this later period, the reduction in the provision of credit really began to bite in the 1420s and continued until the end of the century. Ramsey experienced a severe contraction in debt pleas particularly in the 1450s and 1460s; in Colchester, the number of pleas of debt contracted sharply in the fifteenth century, particularly during the 1480s so that the number of pleas of debt between 1491 and 1525 was only 30 per cent of what it had been in the 1380s.51 This suggests a downturn in confidence and, by extension, a reduction in the number of transactions that reflects the pessimists’ analysis of an economic depression mid-century. In Nottingham problems began to become apparent in the 1420s, after which the number of new debt pleas plunged precipitously, representing a cooling of the local economy and a reduction in the volume of trade (Table 3). Five 50

Britnell, Growth and Decline in Colchester, pp. 98–99; Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 202–03; Hilton, ‘Low-level Urbanisation’, pp. 503–04; Court Rolls of Ramsey, ed. by DeWindt, pp. 51–53. 51

Court Rolls of Ramsey, ed. by DeWindt, pp. 51–53; Britnell, Growth and Decline in Colchester, p. 206.

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times as many debt pleas were started in 1395 than in the same court fifty years later. In Winchester the situation is similar with a 62 per cent drop in debt pleas in the fourteen years following 1410 (Table 4). The end of the century did not see much improvement. Credit and debt certainly remained an important part of Nottingham’s commercial life. But, as Table 3 indicates, the total number of debt suits pleaded in each sample year at the end of the century never came close to the number of new debt suits litigated in the early years of the century. Between 1352 and 1416, new suits made up roughly 27 per cent of the total litigation in a year. This percentage dropped to just 17 per cent between 1431 and 1446. This suggests that new business, at least those involving broken credit agreements, contracted even more sharply when viewed as a proportion of court business. Thus in the 1430s and 1440s Nottingham’s traders lacked business confidence and transacted fewer new credit agreements. Assuming a similar proportion of new debt pleas from the 1480s it means that there were only around fourteen to sixteen new debt pleas started in the borough court each year compared to the hundreds of new suits litigated a hundred years earlier (Table 3). This suggests that the sluggish economy persisted into the 1480s and 1490s. Beyond the bald numbers of annual debt pleas there is further evidence of considerable commercial contraction in the early fifteenth century. At the end of the fourteenth century debt pleas comprised about 84 per cent of the burgess pleas at Nottingham. Between 1422 and 1455 this figure dropped to 72 per cent, with the deficit being made up by increasing numbers of trespass cases (in itself an interesting observation).52 This reduction in the relative importance of debt litigation is seen particularly clearly in the Winchester data (Table 4). After the 1410s the proportion of debt litigation fell to about 50 per cent of the court’s business from the nearly 80 per cent it took up in the 1380s. The recession can be viewed from an alternative perspective. One of the key features of fifteenth-century borough court records is their quality and survival. As noted above, few court records survive in continuous sequence throughout the fifteenth century. For manorial records this is blamed partly upon economic and demographic decline resulting in fewer suits and partly upon the transformation of villein tenures into contractual ones resulting in a reduction of seigneurial business undertaken at these courts. The farming out of manors in this period also meant that lords generally lost interest in their manorial courts.53 Thus we might

52 53

Foulds, Hughes, and Jones, ‘Nottingham Borough Court Rolls’, Table 1, p. 76.

Christopher Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), pp. 174–75, 266–68, 329, 368.

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assign similar causes to the decline in record keeping in towns, especially seigneurial boroughs. But this cannot in itself explain the reduction in borough court records. For example, Ramsey, Bridgwater, and Basingstoke were seigneurial boroughs, yet their courts continued to keep records in the fifteenth century.54 The records of both Nottingham and Winchester once again serve as useful guides. At Nottingham from the late 1430s there is a reduction in the number of all types of suit, not just debt pleas, recorded in each court.55 Thus in the court held on 22 May 1437 only thirteen suits are recorded in total; on 28 August in the same year the scribe wrote up only twenty-eight suits.56 In the 1440s and 1450s the number of suits per court was reduced still further. The two courts held in July of 1450 dealt with just nineteen suits.57 These might be compared to the three February courts in 1402, wherein ninety-seven suits were recorded.58 This is followed by a gap in the record until 1481. This can be seen in Winchester too in the 1420s and 1430s, when some courts dealt with only seven cases in total compared to the thirty to forty cases per court in the 1390s.59 After 1433 the rolls become fragmentary with incomplete and damaged rolls surviving only for 1454–55, 1473–74, and 1495–96.60 This is very different to the situation during the plague outbreaks of the fourteenth century wherein normal service was resumed very quickly.61 Even during the Winchester riots of 1381, the amount of litigation dropped during the months of June and July but quickly returned to former levels.62 Did the reduction in all types of court business result in fewer courts being held in the 1450s, 1460s, and 1470s — leaving a more fragile vellum trail — culminating in the loss or destruction of these rolls because their depleted folios served little purpose? Derek Keene suggests that Winchester’s

54

Court Rolls of Ramsey, ed. by DeWindt, pp. 51–53; Somerset Record Office, D/B/bw/165, 834, 1858; History of the Ancient Manor and Town of Basingstoke, ed. by Baigent and Millard, pp. 247–308. 55

NAO, CA 1328/I/3r–1338/5r.

56

NAO, CA 1328/I/3r.

57

NAO, CA 1338/4v .

58

NAO, CA 1299/7r–11r (b).

59

See for example, HRO, W/D1/53, 60, 32, and 35.

60

HRO, W/D1/61–64.

61

See, for example, HRO, W/D1/8 (Winchester 1361).

62

HRO, W/D1/24; The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, ed. by R . B. Dobson (London: Macmillan, 1983), p. 44.

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later fifteenth-century court records did not just became lost, rather that standards fell whilst the city was experiencing particularly severe economic difficulties.63 Certainly it is possible that some litigants sought alternative, less public arenas to settle their debt disputes. But this is difficult to demonstrate in the absence of evidence. The contraction in borough court debt pleas cannot be blamed upon increasing recourse to arbitration. Unlike the fourteenth century, when ‘love days’ were commonly found in court rolls (whereby court-appointed arbitrators were commissioned to settle the more complicated disputes), these are entirely lacking in Nottingham’s fifteenth-century rolls. Furthermore, even in the fourteenth century, arbitration was rarely used for mercantile pleas such as debt because of their inherent lack of complexity. The only conclusion that can be reached is that the sustained population decline of the fifteenth century resulted in fewer plaints being processed by the court. It was not just the quantity of litigation that decreased; it was also the quality of the record keeping. At Nottingham in December 1483 only six suits were litigated; in the three courts in the following May seven suits were recorded.64 That represents just over two suits per court. This had an unmistakable effect upon the quality of the court rolls. From the 1480s the borough court records were recorded on paper rather than vellum and bound together to form borough court yearbooks. But the records of the 1480s are written in a very slovenly hand, with the barest of details, full of gaps and unfinished entries. The apathetic and anonymous clerk employed by the court at that time does not seem to have been particularly experienced, and the effectiveness of the court must have suffered as a result. That the Nottingham court could not get the staff presumably related to their method of payment. If the clerks were paid per suit, then, with so little litigation, the best clerks would have sought employment in a more remunerative clerical environment. This might have led to a loss of confidence in the court’s effectiveness to settle disputes. Some borough courts attempted to remedy the leakage. In the 1460s the Coventry Corporation petitioned the king accusing neighbouring courts of trying to poach potential litigants.65 From c. 1400 Winchester’s city court improved their procedures to ease litigants’ passage through the system. In addition to the court rolls new individual parchment slips (known as recorda) were attached

63

Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, I, 21–22.

64

NAO, CA 1372/5r, 1372/38r–40r.

65

The Coventry Leet Book or Mayor’s Register, ed. by Mary D. Harris, vol. II, Early English Text Society, 135 (London: Kegan Paul & Trench, 1908), pp. 325–26.

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which contained the full details of each case.66 In a system that resembled copyhold tenure agreements, it seems likely that copies of these parchment slips were given to the litigants whilst one was retained by the court. This coincided with the establishment of the office of city recorder who was charged with looking after the city’s records.67 This novelty may have been introduced as a confidence-boosting exercise to encourage people back to their local court. Furthermore, from 1353 Winchester had also possessed a Statute Staple Court wherein larger debt pleas were enrolled and wool and cloth were sold. According to Keene’s topographical study of the later medieval city, by 1400 the site had fallen into disuse and was being leased by the city government.68 Certainly after 1390 no more Statute Staple debt certificates were sent to Chancery from the Winchester Staple Court.69 What might have happened therefore is that the officials from the defunct Staple Court simply moved down the road (literally) to the borough court and began using record-keeping methods that they had been used to in the senior court. In the short term this seems to have increased confidence in the local civil courts. The court rolls of the 1380s contain about twenty membranes. The roll of 1410–11, the period of the court’s greatest activity, contains sixty-two membranes.70 However, after 1433 this expensive innovation was abandoned and standards of record keeping appear to have deteriorated sharply. The roll for 1494–95 is very poorly presented, lacks detail, is badly written in an almost illegible hand, and is damaged and incomplete.71 Moreover, this hypothesis helps explain the increasing numbers of Winchester debt pleas in the 1450s and 1470s (Table 4). Rather than seeing these as lone, charmed survivals from the period, these might be the only local courts held in these years. They would thus have been well attended by all those wishing to settle any outstanding debts. The decline of the Statute Staple Court in Winchester and its possible subsumption into the local borough court helps explain another peculiarity of the fifteenth-century credit evidence. A decline in the number of debt pleas is clearly observable in the borough court data, but at the same time more debts were transacted using written instruments such as bonds. A bond (or recognisance) was a

66

HRO, W/D1/37–59, W/D1/110–42.

67

Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, I, 81.

68

Keene, Survey of Medieval Winchester, II, 472–73.

69

TNA: PRO, C 241/179/89; the last was sent in October 1390.

70

HRO, W/D1/45.

71

HRO, W/D1/64.

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written device that specified the details of the credit or loan agreement — the parties, the amount, where and when it was to be repaid with any instalments, and the date at which the bond was drawn up. These had the seals of the two parties attached. One copy was kept by the creditor, one by the borrower, and the text was also enrolled by the court for extra security. Being writs they added an extra layer of security to the transaction while also circumventing the 40s. rule and were thus used for debts of higher amounts, generally those over £10. The use of bonds in borough courts mirrored the system found in Staple Courts for enrolling large debts.72 In Exeter in the late fourteenth century the mean amount transacted using bonds was just under £37.73 In Bridgwater, too, bonds had been commonly used at the borough court since the mid-fourteenth century, again for larger debt transactions — the mean being £25 10s. But the use of bonds increased noticeably in Bridgwater from four survivals a decade between 1400 and 1409 to fourteen between 1450 and 1459. This trend increased dramatically again in the 1480s when twenty-five survivals can be located just within the first five years of that decade. At Nottingham bonds become more common from the 1430s and 1440s, often produced in court as proof, and became particularly popular in the 1490s.74 Bonds, as written instruments that reinforced the creditor’s claim in law, might therefore have been the preferred option in periods of commercial disquiet, acting to boost business confidence. This can be seen in Winchester after the (conjectural) assimilation of the Staple Court into the borough court after c. 1400. The number of bonds for debts above 40s. increased dramatically after 1390 and reached its highest point between 1410 and 1429. With a mean sum of £12 these bonds were rarely as valuable as those enrolled at Exeter or Bridgwater, nor those transacted at Winchester’s Staple Court in the later fourteenth century (mean £115 8s.), but it does suggest that in the new commercial circumstances of the fifteenth century — fewer, lower-value debts being transacted — Winchester’s borough court survived while the city’s Staple Court became extinct. This explanation may equally apply to other staple towns, like Coventry, where the Statute Staple Court ground to a halt between 1416 and 1429.75 No debts were enrolled in that court at that time.

72

See for example, NAO, CA 1374/159r.

73

Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 213–14.

74

For Winchester, see for example, HRO, W/D1/142/fols 79r, 145r, 146r (b); for Nottingham, see NAO, CA 1316/14v , 1333/1r–v, 1374/157r–159r. 75

Richard Goddard, Commercial Contraction and Urban Decline in Fifteenth-Century Coventry, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers, 46 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 16.

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It is possible (though difficult to prove in the absence of borough court records for the city) that in those difficult years creditors chose instead to enrol larger debts and sue defaulters at their local borough court. What can be inferred from these data, always bearing in mind the difficulty of drawing firm conclusions from such limited evidence? It is clear that demographic contraction was itself a principal cause of declining court business and, in some cases, in the quality of record keeping there. The evidence of Tables 3 and 4 suggests that commercial activity, as measured by the volume of debt litigation, ebbed and flowed rather then followed a declining linear trajectory. The 1370s and 1390s seem to have been particularly commercially active; the first decade of the fifteenth century shows similar, although less dynamic, vigour. In contrast, from the mid1420s the economy seems to have been particularly troubled. There is insufficient evidence to assess the 1450–80 period, but the 1480s and 1490s seem again to have been a period of economic dislocation. Commercial contraction caused a significant reduction in the volume of credit transacted in borough courts during the course of the fifteenth century as business confidence waned. Attempts to increase confidence by shoring up the record-keeping process, as at Winchester, were short lived. However, despite all these setbacks the borough court as an institution survived, largely unaltered, into the sixteenth century and continued to be the principal venue for suing for debt. At Nottingham in the 1490s the court witnessed a small increase in the number of debt pleas and a growth bond in registration which might be interpreted as the beginning of a recovery phase.76 In the same decade the court witnessed a reinvigoration of the plea-recording process coincident with a change of scribal hand. The borough court books for the last decade of the century are well ordered, more detailed, and professionally presented.77 In Winchester after the dearth of the fifteenth century, many more rolls, writs, jury lists, and plea papers (which copy the format of the early fifteenth-century recorda) survive for the sixteenth century, again hinting at a certain institutional resuscitation.78 Debt litigation in the borough court must therefore be seen as an example of medieval institutional survival, sometimes against overwhelming odds.

76

NAO, CA 1374/19r–21r (£5), 1379/9r–11r (£20).

77

See particularly, NAO, CA 1374–77.

78

HRO, W/D1/65–176, 277–96.

E CONOMIC SURVIVAL IN L ATE M EDIEVAL D ERBYSHIRE: T HE S PIRITUALITY INCOME OF THE D EAN AND C HAPTER OF L ICHFIELD , C . 1400– C . 1535 Robert Swanson

I

R

esearch on late medieval English rural economic and social history generally privileges the manor and manorialism, tracing transformations in relations between lords and peasants and patterns of agrarian wealth. The focus on land, the analysis of economic relationships through the jurisdictional ties between lords and tenants, is legitimated by the pattern of documentary survival and historiographical tradition. However, it can lead to (subconscious) marginalization of one major influence on rural life, the economic demands made by the Church in consequence of its spiritual jurisdiction. The resulting revenues, ‘spiritualities’, made a substantial contribution to ecclesiastical incomes. Rectories were the chief source of such revenues, with tithes — basically the levy of one tenth of agricultural produce, although more complex in detail — providing the core income for most individual incumbents. Other notable sources of spirituality receipts at parish level included mortuaries (effectively a death duty) and offerings of various kinds, as well as income from a church’s own landed endowment, the glebe.1 The tithes and 1

Abbreviations used in this paper: CAB = Lichfield, Cathedral Library, Chapter Act Book (microfiche copies at LRO, D30/2/1/1–); DRO = Matlock, Derbyshire Record Office; LRO = Lichfield, Record Office; VE = Valor Ecclesiasticus, ed. by John Caley and Joseph Hunter, 6 vols (London: Record Commission, 1810–34). Spirituality revenues have generally received little detailed attention. For a brief survey, see Robert N. Swanson, Church and Society in Late Medieval England, rev. edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), pp. 206–17. For other parish-based studies, see Robert N. Swanson, ‘Standards of Livings: Parochial Revenues in Pre-Reformation England’,

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glebe of appropriated rectories often provided income for ecclesiastical institutions like monasteries, cathedral chapters, bishoprics, or university colleges. (Economic historians tend to treat appropriated rectories simply as estates, without distinguishing them from temporalities. This compounds their marginalization specifically as sources of spirituality income.)2 At the Church’s higher levels, spirituality income was enhanced by court and administrative fees, as the range of resources expanded. The contribution made by spiritual income to an institution’s or prelate’s total income was then balanced (and outweighed) by revenue from estates held as temporalities, yet they remained valuable: at Worcester, they probably provided over 10 per cent of the bishop’s net annual income in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.3 Usually, whatever the recipient’s ecclesiastical status, extant evidence for spirituality revenues is limited, if any survives. Problems with survival of the sources, and their nature where records are available, mean that the evidence lacks the organizational stability and formulaic predictability of manorial documentation. Yet where evidence exists it can reveal much about the Church and its relationships with those subject to its spiritual and fiscal oversight. Moreover, and especially in the late Middle Ages, spirituality receipts can illuminate clerical and wider ecclesiastical strategies for survival in a fraught period of economic change, alongside other aspects of rural economic and social life. These include the changing strategies for economic survival among the laity, and the changing occasions for discord generated by the differences and contrasts between strategies adopted to meet the needs of different groups. Tranches of primary material to allow such

in Religious Belief and Ecclesiastical Careers in Late Medieval England, ed. by Christopher Harper-Bill (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1991), pp. 151–96; Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits: Receipts from the Peculiar Jurisdiction of the Peak District in the Fourteenth Century’, in Harlaxton Medieval Studies, vol. III: England in the Fourteenth Century, Proceedings of the 1991 Colloquium, ed. by Nicholas Rogers (Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1993), pp. 171–95; Swanson, ‘Urban Rectories and Urban Fortunes in Late Medieval England: The Evidence from King’s Lynn’, in The Church in the Medieval Town, ed. by Terry R . Slater and Gervase Rosser (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), pp. 100–30. A general discussion of the economic significance of tithes appears in Robert N. Swanson, ‘A Universal Levy: Tithes and Economic Agency’, in Rural Society and Agriculture after the Black Death: Common Themes and Regional Variations, ed. by Ben Dodds and Richard H. Britnell (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2008), pp. 89–112. 2 E.g. Christopher Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 193, noting that revenue from appropriated rectories is treated among temporalities. 3

Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society, pp. 177, 193–95.

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analysis are scarce. One area for which documents do survive is the three parishes of Bakewell, Tideswell, and Hope in the Peak District of Derbyshire. Appropriated to the common fund of the dean and chapter of Lichfield cathedral, their spirituality revenues were vital to the funding of the residentiaries, the small group of canons who actually administered the cathedral. (The formal chapter was much larger, but only the residents shared in the common fund.)4 Any fluctuations in these receipts had a direct impact on those canons and required a response, as the residentiaries sought to protect their individual and collective economic positions.5 To develop successful strategies to maintain income in the economy of fifteenthand early sixteenth-century England would be a major achievement. The substantial surviving fourteenth-century evidence for these spirituality receipts has already been analysed elsewhere, with a focus on the concerns of the dean and chapter;6 here the analysis is extended through to the early Reformation years, with some broadening of the overall perspective. The available sources are rather less, and less informative, than those for the fourteenth century, but still merit and justify discussion. The three parishes fell within a compact area, the ‘High Peak’, which had its own micro-economy. While it obviously shared characteristics and trends with surrounding territories, the local trends are distinct, and at times very different from those elsewhere in Derbyshire. The lay aspect of this social and economic history has already been surveyed.7 However, the spirituality revenues of the Peak have not yet been fully integrated into Derbyshire’s social and economic history.8 For obvious reasons, that integration cannot be completed here. Focusing on developments from the standpoint of the dean and chapter, the paper

4

Kathleen Edwards, The English Secular Cathedrals in the Middle Ages, 2nd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1967), ch. 1. 5 Lichfield’s dean and chapter were not the sole tithe-owners in the three parishes; the figures discussed here therefore do not reflect the full local flow of spiritual revenue. Some was alienated to the vicarages in the parishes (see note 22); more significantly, other religious institutions were also tithe-owners. For those held by Lenton Priory, see VE, V , 147–48. 6

Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits’, pp. 171–95.

7

Ian S. W. Blanchard, ‘Economic Change in Derbyshire in the Late Middle Ages, 1272–1540’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of London, 1967), esp. pp. 96–97, 99–110, 183–84, 187–91, 205–27, 287–90, 394–60. 8

Blanchard, ‘Economic Change in Derbyshire’, uses the spirituality accounts at Lichfield, but not the chapter act books; Susan M. Wright, The Derbyshire Gentry in the Fifteenth Century, Derbyshire Record Society, 8 (Chesterfield: Derbyshire Record Society, 1983), cites no Lichfield material among her primary sources.

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seeks to mesh the spirituality revenues, with their evolutions and the resulting economic and social relationships, into a broader picture; but it can only offer an outline sketch. There is an immediate problem with the source material. The extant medieval archives of Lichfield cathedral are generally disappointing; material for the fifteenth century is particularly frustrating. A few accounts for the Peak jurisdiction survive from the early fifteenth century; there is then a void until the 1470s, and then again until the sixteenth century.9 The losses among the records may have started early: a list of documents to be used in a court case under James I suggests that not much existed even then.10 The latest account considered here, from 1537–38, leached out of the archives with at least one other document in 1701, and others were perhaps likewise dispersed.11 The losses can be partially compensated for by entries in the chapter act books, which serve as an important adjunct to the accounts. However, they too have a poor survival rate, with significant gaps.12 The first extant fifteenth-century volume contains a few relevant entries, but losses among the subsequent books replicate the lacuna in the accounts. There are no relevant act book entries (largely because there are no act books) between 1430 and 1481,13 and what information can be extracted is scrappy and incomplete. While the accounting by the proctors for the jurisdiction is noted fairly regularly, the entries are bland reports which preclude any

9

LRO, D30/4/5/9–14, 44–48. There are also counterparts of leases and other documents. The Lichfield material is listed in Catalogue of the Muniments and Manuscript Books Pertaining to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield; Analysis of the Magnum Registrum Album; Catalogue of the Muniments of the Lichfield Vicars, ed. by J. Charles Cox, Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 6.2 (London: Harrison and Sons, 1886), pp. 19–21, 25–27, but his reference numbers are now obsolete. The current listing is available online via . 10

In CAB.IV, between fols 10 and 11.

11

DRO, D258/32/2/1, 3.

12

CAB: listed in Catalogue, ed. by Cox, pp. 86–94. The first extant act book is now Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 794: it ends in 1384 and so has not been used here. For the volumes, and the gaps resulting from losses, see Robert N. Swanson, ‘Lichfield Chapter Acts, 1433–1461’, Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 4th series, 13 (1988), 27–46; Swanson, ‘Extracts from a Fifteenth-Century Lichfield Cathedral Chapter Act Book’, Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 4th series, 20 (2004), 129–70. 13

The last relevant entry in CAB.I is at fol. 136r, dated 17 February 1429/30; the next occurs on 16 March 1480/81 at CAB.II, fol. 1v . Throughout I am using the term ‘farm’ to refer to the lease of the tithes or the rent due or paid for it, and ‘farmer’ to refer to the lessee of the tithes.

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commentary on the receipts. Similarly, grants of leases are entered, but not always fully. Notice of one five-year lease of the tithe lambs in 1481 even omits the annual farm. (Information does appear elsewhere, because the lessee failed to pay a due instalment of £10 and so forfeited the lease.)14 The uneven distribution of the source material is problematic, but cannot be remedied. One consequence in particular of the differing content and formats of the available financial statements is that it precludes any really meaningful comparative tabulation of the revenues to illustrate change over time.

II By 1400, Lichfield’s dean and chapter had evolved a practical approach to their spirituality revenues from the three Peak parishes. Distance, and logistics, made unmediated administration impractical. Most revenues were administered through a single accountant, the proctor, who was seemingly beneath the communar, but delivered his annual accounts directly to the chapter early in Lent. (One major source of tithe income, from tithes of lambs and fleeces, was dealt with separately.) The proctor was primarily a rent collector: most of the income, and particularly that from tithes of grain and hay, was farmed out in parcels generally equating to villages, and usually for terms of five years.15 Two accounts, from 1400–01 and 1537–38 respectively, show the nature and scale of the spirituality receipts at each end of the period under review. The first, submitted by Thomas de Wednesley, knight, as proctor, records total receipts of £208 18s. 3d.16 Of these, well over half — £131 16s. 2d. — derived from the tithes of sheaves and hay within the jurisdiction. The second largest entry is for the mortuaries — mainly beasts forfeited by parishioners at death as a kind of spiritual heriot — which are noted (and priced) in detail in a separate list. They were worth £23 2d. in total. Easter ‘tithes’ (more properly the ‘Easter roll’) brought in £18 3s. 6½d. (which probably represents the income solely from Bakewell parish, rather than the whole jurisdiction).17 The tithes of lead mines were leased out for £16.

14

CAB.II, fols 2r, 5v .

15

Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits’, p. 182.

16

LRO, D30/4/5/9.

17

See pp. 99–100. Precisely what falls under the heading of Easter tithes is never specified in the accounts, but it presumably covers sums received (possibly as cash equivalents or commutations) for the many minor ‘small tithes’ — that is, tithes from produce other than grains, wool, and

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The only other substantial receipts were from lands: 106s. 8d. from demesne lands, and £7 14s. 6½d. from others. These would have included glebe lands and the rectory sites in the three parishes: all can be considered as spiritualities rather than temporalities.18 A few less significant sums complete the tally: tithes of mills (43s. 6d., with others leased out with the tithes of sheaves); pensions from the chapelries within Bakewell parish (53s. 10d.); collections from bees (11s., farmed out); manorial court receipts, presumably linked to glebe (3s. 10d., with a note that no heriots had fallen due); and the revenues of ecclesiastical jurisdiction (10s., a reduced sum because of Thomas Arundel’s recent archiepiscopal visitation, it being noted that receipts were 40s. in the preceding year). The second account, for 1537–38, follows a template maintained since at least the 1470s. Presented by Ralph Sneyd, the chapter communar, it records total receipts of £154 9s. 2d.19 Again, the major contributor was the farm of tithes of sheaves and hay, at £129 12s. Mills brought in 47s. 8d., the altarage at Chapel en le Frith was worth 40s., and pensions amounted to 54s. 10d. The remainder came from rents of lands (producing income higher than in 1400–01). Three key omissions compared to 1400–01 are the Easter roll at Bakewell, lead tithes, and mortuaries. These reflect fifteenth-century changes in administrative practice rather than changes in revenue. As the core receipts, for grain and hay tithes, were almost identical to those for 1400–01, the seeming fall of roughly 25 per cent between the two dates is largely accounted for by those omissions. All probably had continued to produce some income, which perhaps covered a substantial part of the decline. The size and relative stability of the total income recorded in these two accounts is striking, but both statements are incomplete. Both omit a major component of the chapter’s receipts: the tithes of lambs and wool. The 1400–01 statement does note the cash received and paid out under the complex arrangements necessary when the liability was actually less than a full lamb or fleece, but this was only a very small fraction of the total.20 The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 offers a rather different formulation of the spiritual receipts at the latter end of the period.21 Here the most valuable item is the

lambs, which were handed over at Easter. It might also include ‘personal tithes’ which elsewhere appeared as levied on wages, certain rental income, or trading profits. 18

See note 23.

19

DRO, D258/32/2/3.

20

For the technicalities, see Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits’, pp. 188–89.

21

VE, III, 133.

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tithes of lambs and wool in the three parishes, which were worth £105 annually. Remaining tithes were treated as income from the individual parishes, for each of which a separate total is recorded. Accordingly, sheaves, hay, and lead mines at Hope were valued at £21 4s. 6d. yearly, those at Tideswell at £21 5s. 4d., and at Bakewell at £43 18s. 4d. (The Bakewell income probably included Easter roll; at Hope and Tideswell this fell under vicarial receipts.)22 The rectorial income received by the dean and chapter as appropriators of the parishes also included receipts from farming out the rectorial buildings and glebe lands, with Bakewell the most profitable at £7 10s. 4d., Hope second at £5 10½d., and Tideswell just 55s. 1d.23 Although they had leased out the glebe lands, the chapter retained manorial jurisdiction over the glebe tenants: rectoral courts brought in a total of 33s. 4d.24 Other minor revenues — pensions from Lilleshall Abbey and the five chapels in the Peak, plus income from scattered lands — totalled just over £1. The spiritual income from the whole jurisdiction was calculated at £215 15s. 9½d., which made a significant contribution to the incomes of the residentiary canons. (As in the 1537–38 account, mortuaries are omitted; whether any were collected is unknown.)25 The main concern here is with the receipts, but the expenses must be acknowledged: while comparatively low-cost, spirituality income was not cost-free. Moreover, the ‘income’ side of the accounts usually indicates what had fallen due and was due to be handed over by the accountant, not what the chapter actually received. Full costs cannot be fully assessed, because the statements never record them all; the declared deductions pose their own analytical problems. Such difficulties are exemplified in an account for 1480–81, submitted by William, Lord Hastings, as ‘supervisor’ (rather than proctor) of the parishes. His debit account appears as two blocks, without headings. One comprises actual ‘payments’: Hastings’s own fee (£13 6s. 8d., replicating the proctor’s fee of 1400–01),26 payments for chaplains at Tideswell and Chapel en le Frith, minor administrative costs (for parchment for the account, and for transporting cash to

22

For Bakewell’s Easter roll payments, see pp. 99–100. Valuations of Hope and Tideswell are at VE, III, 181 (Tideswell’s vicar also received tithes of hay and mills). 23

All rents for lands in the three parishes appear as ‘spiritualities’ in VE; no Derbyshire lands are among the temporalities at VE, III, 132. 24

See also CAB.II, fol. 1v .

25

See pp. 98–99.

26

LRO, D30/4/5/9.

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Lichfield), and 8d. for chief rents of two barns. The second list is more miscellaneous. Many entries note money still ‘in the hands’ of others — Henry Vernon holding the tithes of several mills, Hastings himself holding 2s. 6d. due from Buxton mill, with the highest amount being the £45 15s. 4d. in the hands of Robert Eyre ‘and others’ for tithes of sheaves and hay. This was money still owed, rather than being paid by them directly. Other receipts had already been passed on, with 33s. 4d. for wool collection noted as paid to Thomas Godsalve (the chapter clerk), and £13 13s. 4d. to ‘Master Whelpdale’. Some entries note uncollectable income: the mill tithes at Burgh and Wormhill, ‘in decay’. Finally, there were real expenses: a pension at Harthill, barn repairs at Ashford (but the 40s. for similar repairs at Bakewell were ‘in the hands’ of Henry Vernon), court costs at Hope, and church repairs at Chapel en le Frith. (An entry of 13s. 4d. for a robe for Hastings is struck through, presumably disallowed.) This list is only indicative: later accounts give a lower accountant’s fee of £3 6s. 8d., with collecting costs standardized at £3.27 The Valor Ecclesiasticus suggests two additions (or substitutions): 40s. paid to the steward of the courts of the rectorial glebe in the three parishes, and £5 13s. 4d. to Ralph Gell as bailiff there.28 Collection of these spirituality revenues was not a smooth process: whatever their derivation, the chapter’s approach to them was essentially one of landlordism. Seen as landlords, they faced problems very like those which confronted other landlords in the period. The chapter act books reveal delayed payments and occasional resistance, and the chapter clearly had to be vigilant to defend its rights. In 1416, for instance, the farmers of Roche Abbey’s grange at One Ash were cited for withdrawal of the tithes due there.29 In 1417 John Cokeyn, knight, compounded for tithe debts going back twelve years, paying the hefty sum of ten pounds of gold.30 How much John Stafford owed from Bakewell when cited in 1427 for his ‘rebellions and offences’ is not stated, but the chapter had imposed the ultimate ecclesiastical sanction of excommunication in an attempt to secure payment. When Stafford appeared he was allowed a brief respite, but failure to pay would reinstate his excommunication, and the chapter was probably prepared to go beyond its mere proclamation to formal signification to the Crown. If carried

27

LRO, D30/4/5/13–14, D30/4/6/12.

28

VE, III, 133.

29

CAB.I, fol. 91r; see also CAB.III, fol. 30v; cf. CAB.IV, fol. 99r.

30

CAB.I, fol. 96r.

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through that would have meant his formal outlawry.31 Not only tithes went unpaid. In October 1417, the chapter decreed that Richard Cok should be cited for detaining the mortuary of Robert Hunte; the outcome is unknown.32

III Despite the importance of the grain and hay tithes in the spirituality income, they require least comment here. The practice of farming persisted throughout the period, generally for five-year terms. In general, the chapter maintained its usual practices, with no sign of major worries about the trajectory of rents or receipts. There are odd anomalous leases which may indicate minor difficulties, but nothing substantial.33 As fortunes revived in the 1520s, chapter members were allowed to take on leases themselves, provided that they matched the competitive market rate. There is no sign that they actually did so, although access to the farms was occasionally used for family patronage.34 Farming obviously obscures local evolutions: at Hassop in 1523 the inhabitants farmed their own tithes individually, with (for instance) Miles Marshall paying 20d. and Richard Haw 3s. (the highest sum). Depopulation may be suggested by the 1523 record of Chelmerdon, where Margaret Crosely was the only named tenant, holding the tithes of lands which she herself cultivated (although Chelmerdon’s tithes were shared with Lenton Priory, so there may have been other inhabitants).35 Tithes of lambs and fleeces were perhaps the most dynamic element in the total package. For unknown reasons, in this period as in the fourteenth century, their administration was excluded from the proctor’s remit, apart from occasional notes of cash payments (as in 1400–01). This makes their overall history obscure, even though these tithes became increasingly important to the spirituality receipts as time passed.

31

CAB.I, fol. 123r. For signification, see F. Donald Logan, Excommunication and the Secular Arm in Medieval England: A Study in Legal Procedure from the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Century (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1968). For further use of excommunication, see CAB.III, fol. 34r. 32

CAB.I, fol. 96r.

33

CAB.II, fol. 53r–v.

34

CAB.IV, fols 8v, 47r.

35

LRO, D30/4/7/20.

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An early sign of that potential growth is the revelation in 1415 that several properties in Hope had been engrossed by a single tenant, who had built a sheepfold on one of the messuages.36 The first solid indication of receipts dates from 1427, when 985 lambs were sold to the vicar of Bakewell for £32 16s. 8d.37 How these tithes were actually collected at that point is unclear. The entries for cash commutations on the 1400–01 account suggest that a system of direct administration like that recorded in the fourteenth century was still in use, with the tithes being collected in kind and sold.38 Such direct administration possibly lasted into the 1480s, when a surviving list details the gathering of no fewer than 3365 fleeces, with collecting costs of 17s. 9d.39 How they were marketed is unknown. Arrangements had definitely changed by the 1520s. A lease to begin in 1526 would bring an annual return of £100; a subsequent lease starting in 1531 was for £115 (although the Valor Ecclesiasticus figure is £105).40 There was clearly rivalry for access to the wool and lambs, with hints of a bidding war.41 Of other dues tied to agricultural activity, land rents can evoke little comment, with insufficient information available. While rents are noted in proctors’ accounts, and indeed in the detailed rental of 1415, the information is too disjointed to be analysed. It is, though, clear that there was a continued demand for access to the rectorial complexes, with several leases being entered in the chapter act books.42 The available information on mortuaries is equally disjointed but indicates a change in approach over time. As casual and accidental receipts, mortuaries were not predictable — as receipts, or as payments. The canons as rectors seemingly retained rights to the ‘live mortuaries’, the beasts; following a fairly regular practice, the ‘dead mortuaries’ (usually clothing) probably went to the vicars.43 Although intermittent, the impact of a beast’s loss as a mortuary payment could be significant for an agricultural holding, especially if the manorial lord demanded another beast as heriot. Multiple payments from the same holding (as in the 1400–01 list, where

36

DRO, D258/32/2/1.

37

CAB.I, fol. 122v. The recorded total is 825, counted by the ‘long hundred’ of 120.

38

Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits’, pp. 189–90.

39

CAB.II, fols 46r–51 v , 54v –55r. Richard Sherburne was communar, so the date may be 1486–87 (ibid, fol. 14r). 40

CAB.III, fol. 141r, CAB.IV, fols 8v , 25v ; VE, III, 133.

41

CAB.IV, fols 8v, 23r.

42

CAB.I, fol. 132r; CAB.II, fol. 44r; CAB.III, fols 108r, 140r; CAB.IV, fols 23v , 59r.

43

However, one gown is listed in LRO, D30/4/5/9, and a ‘cover’.

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the deaths of Roger en le Dale with his wife and child resulted in the transfer of a horse and two cattle) would have a devastating effect.44 The canons received the mortuaries but did not keep the beasts, which were sold on.45 The collection and sale of mortuaries was potentially onerous, but was maintained throughout the fourteenth century and well into the fifteenth. However, entries in the act books suggest that the practice was abandoned before 1480, and collection of live mortuaries was farmed out. The unpredictability of receipts made a regular annual farm inappropriate: instead the farmer paid a fixed sum for each mortuary collected, presumably pocketing the difference between that fee and the beast’s selling price (and, conversely, bearing any losses).46 This practice perhaps continued for the rest of the period — or until legislation in 1529 fundamentally changed the arrangements, and the receipts.47 The farmer may sometimes have accounted via the proctor, rather than directly to the chapter. The only indication of this occurs in Lord Hastings’s account of 1480: mortuaries are absent from later statements. The last ‘normal’ item of spirituality income in terms of national practice is that from the Easter roll.48 For six years from 1500 to 1505 a chapter act book records totals of receipts for the Easter roll from the individual townships in Bakewell parish, doubtless distilled from preceding nominal lists. These totals are complemented by figures elsewhere for the whole parish. Overall they reveal a general downward drift. In 1400–01, the total receipt had been over £18; by 1480 it was under £9.49 In 1500 the total was £11 14s. 9½d., just under £14 the following year,

44

LRO, D30/4/5/9. On mortuaries, see Robert C. Palmer, Selling the Church: The English Parish in Law, Commerce, and Religion, 1530–1550 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 42–47. 45

E.g. LRO, D30/4/5/9.

46

For leases, see CAB.II, fols 8r , 44r ; CAB.III, fol. 108v .

47

Palmer, Selling the Church, pp. 169–70. The legislation’s exact impact on capitular administrative practice and receipts is unknown. 48

The original rolls were presumably ancestors to the post-Reformation documents considered in Susan J. Wright, ‘Easter Books and Parish Rate Books: A New Source for the Urban Historian’, in Urban History Yearbook 1985 (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1985), pp. 30–45; Wright, ‘A Guide to Easter Books and Related Parish Listings’, Local Population Studies, 42 (1989), 18–31. For fourteenth-century receipts, see Swanson, ‘Economic Change and Spiritual Profits’, pp. 182–83. 49

LRO, D30/4/5/9, 11.

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and then dropped to under £11 by 1505.50 This suggests a fairly rapid recovery in fortunes between 1480 and 1500, but one which was not sustained. The final element of the chapter’s spirituality receipts which requires comment is distinctly regional: the tithes on lead mining. While less productive than formerly, Derbyshire’s lead industry was active throughout the fifteenth century;51 the resulting tithes fed into the Lichfield chapter’s spirituality receipts. As usual, the evidence for this income is patchy. Overall, it suggests that the receipts from lead tithes could be substantial but erratic. There was a general but slow decline across the fifteenth century, the farm effectively halving between 1403 and 1480; yet in odd years in the 1420s and 1430s income may have been considerably higher, possibly over £48 in 1431.52 The farm was sometimes paid in kind, either by stipulation (as in a lease of 1418) or maybe simply for convenience.53 New arrangements in 1531 may reflect a response to the industry’s expansion, with the lump sum farm being replaced by payment per load.54 A major caveat here is uncertainty about the precise relationship between tithe payments and actual lead production. Evasion was a real problem, which became a major issue. The core evidence for the output of the Derbyshire lead mines comes from records concerning the farm of royal fiscal dues. However, evasion of these dues increased significantly between 1500 and 1550, so that after 1500 ‘the farm became increasingly divorced from the realities of lead output’.55 As the tithes were apparently assessed when the royal dues were levied,56 presumably tithe evasion rates were identical, and the tithe farm equally unrealistic.

IV Gaps in the evidence preclude full assessment of how well the dean and chapter responded to the fifteenth century’s economic challenges, and the clustering of 50

CAB.II, fols 52r , 56v –57v . Two of the entries are dated ‘1501’ — fols 52v , 56v — but ‘primo’ seems to be crossed out in the latter, so I take it to cover 1500. 51

Ian S. W. Blanchard, ‘Derbyshire Lead Production, 1195–1505’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 91 (1973), 119–40 (pp. 128–29, 134). 52

Blanchard, ‘Derbyshire Lead Production’, p. 134.

53

CAB.I, fol. 98r; CAB.II, fol. 53v .

54

CAB.IV, fol. 71v.

55

Blanchard, ‘Derbyshire Lead Production’, pp. 121–22, p. 130, n. 26.

56

Blanchard, ‘Derbyshire Lead Production’, p. 130, n. 15.

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accounts at either end of the period may give a distorted picture. The overall trend roughly half-way through the period is indicated by the 1480–81 account submitted by William, Lord Hastings (although this again omits tithes of lambs and wool).57 His recorded receipts totalled £146 12s. 6½d. Of this, £103 12s. 2d. came from the tithes of sheaves and hay. Other tithes brought much lower sums: lead just £10 and the Easter tithes (or roll) of Bakewell and its members £8 12s. 10½d. Tithes of multure of mills are recorded at 38s., but arrears and defaults listed elsewhere reduced that total.58 Lands and tenements produced £14 2d. The remaining elements are limited: pensions of chapels produced 54s. 10d., mortuaries £3 9s. 2d., bees 7s. 6d., and the altarage of Chapel en le Frith 36s. 8d. Overall, spirituality income in 1480–81 was roughly 25 per cent lower than in 1400–01. Grain and hay tithes had fallen by some 20 per cent; other elements by even more. A significant drop in Bakewell’s prosperity is suggested by the reduced income from the Easter roll, which approached 60 per cent, while receipts from mortuaries were 80 per cent lower than in 1400–01 (although that comparison lacks statistical value, as deaths and mortuaries could not be anticipated). The statement from 1480–81 occurs during an apparent trough in spirituality income. Over the period from 1400 to 1538 as a whole, the available figures suggest reasonable stability, if not overall growth. While the places listed in the individual accounts vary, in general comparison of the local farms for 1400–01 and 1537–38 suggests little change, although the detailed figures available for 1475–76 indicate lower rents then than in the immediately preceding survivor, from 1412–13. In the overall run, 1475–76 marks a low point (which may not be the actual nadir, given the lack of information for preceding decades), with signs of subsequent recovery. However, 1475–76 was not a universal low point in the available figures. At Bakewell itself the farm was the usual £6 then, but £5 in 1515–16. Some places listed in 1400–01 returned higher farms in 1537–38;59 others were lower (but often on an upward trajectory).60 There are signs of real competition for the lamb and fleece tithes in the early sixteenth century, with hints of rival bids forcing up the farms,

57

LRO, D30/4/5/11.

58

For deductions, see p. 96.

59

E.g. Bakewell, £6:£6 10s.; Sheldon, £2 13s. 4d.:£3 2s.; Taddington, £7:£8; Fairfield, £1 10s.:£2 7s. 4d. LRO, D30/4/5/9; DRO, D258/32/2/3. 60

E.g. Rowsley, £2 13s. 4d.:£2 (£1 9s. in 1475–76); Baslow, £6 13s. 4d.:£4 (£3 in 1475–76); Tunstead, £7:£5 (£4 in 1475–76); Bradwell, £3 13s. 4d.:£2 16s. 8d. (£2 10s. in 1515). LRO, D30/4/5/9, 12, 47; DRO, D258/32/2/3.

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and leases being granted some years in advance.61 Little of this recovery can be ascribed directly to the canons’ management (save as auctioneers), but that they coped with the fifteenth-century difficulties to exploit the economic upturn was an achievement in itself.

V The strategies adopted by the dean and chapter of Lichfield for their Peak District spiritualities did not necessarily reduce the complexity of local tithe administration. They do, however, suggest a greater concern with good oversight. The general impression of later fifteenth-century England is that manorial lords had to adopt increasingly efficient and responsive approaches to management to ensure that they did actually get their revenue.62 So did the recipients of spirituality revenues. The residentiary canons of Lichfield, as claimants on the common fund sustained by the Peak revenues, were naturally concerned for their own financial stability and survival, but they were not the only ones whose economic position was affected by the evolutions in spirituality receipts. In the economic and social history of the late medieval Peak District, as elsewhere, social discord often reflects clashes of survival strategies, as actors clashed when defending their distinct economic and social interests. That the spirituality revenue generated within the Peak District largely derived from tithes perhaps exacerbated the occasions for discord — limited though the evidence for such clashes is — because of the peculiar economic implications of tithes and tithing, and their wider economic potential. As a product of expropriation, tithes were a significant element in the agricultural sector of the late medieval English economy, giving their owners and exploiters access to significant quantities of food and raw materials at little real cost, and thereby also gaining a market advantage.63 In the Peak District, access to the tithes of wool and lambs, and perhaps the tithes of lead mining, might be especially significant, as they were generally farmed out as single leases. The different management of the grain tithes suggests that they worked differently, but the farming of substantial lots clearly gave market advantage to the farmers against the actual

61

CAB.IV, fols 8v , 23r, 114v .

62 Mark Bailey, The English Manor, c. 1200–c. 1500 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), pp. 40–41; Ben Dodds, ‘Managing Tithes in the Late Middle Ages’, Agricultural History Review, 53 (2005), 125–40 (pp. 139–40). 63

Swanson, ‘Universal Levy’, pp. 101, 110–11.

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producers. Most obviously, the farmers did not have to meet basic production costs of the tithes they collected (which included the burden of tithe-paying itself). They might then undercut rivals in the market or advantageously exploit opportunities for bulk storage or bulk selling. In the complexities of England’s fifteenth-century economy, spirituality revenues may have offered a more secure income than land itself. Tithes would be highly attractive: when paid in kind, they had real value and were not subject to the same pressures as rental incomes. The desire to control tithes — either to undertake their full exploitation, or by their effective negation to allow producers to recoup what would otherwise be losses — created complex relationships between those entitled to collect and those obligated to pay. Of the actual tithe payers in the fifteenth-century Peak District, the producers at the bottom of the pyramid, little can be said here. Agricultural arrangements and collection practices appear rarely in the records, the most striking being the nominal listing from the 1480s of people who surrendered tithe fleeces — all small-scale producers.64 Some of the discord generated by tithe demands is reflected in petitions by the chapter against Bakewell’s parishioners in 1488/89.65 The chapter was seemingly trying to boost its income by exploiting all of its rights in full, possibly seeking to restore abandoned practices now deemed worth reviving. The points at issue included tithes of milk, arrangements for tithing calves, and the chapter’s claims to a share of the pasturage. They wanted the tithing of lambs to be done publicly and according to established practice, hinting that producers evaded their liabilities (possibly by handing over poor-quality animals). The chapter was obviously acting to defend its own interests; it may also have been acting for (even at the instigation of) the tithe farmers. Those farmers — whichever commodities they farmed — had their own interests to preserve. While the dean and chapter, as the nominal tithe recipients, sought to maintain their revenues, and were not above exploiting competition for farms,66 the farmers themselves had to juggle to ensure that the rents they paid were low enough to give them an assured and steady profit. Hints of a cabal among the farmers, or at least expectations that the farms would not be subject to an absolutely open 64

See note 39. For Derbyshire sheep-farming, see Blanchard, ‘Economic Change in Derbyshire’, pp. 183–84. 65

CAB.II, fols 24r –25r . No addressee is indicated, leaving it unclear which court is being invoked. A Bakewell parishioner’s citation to the Court of Arches in December 1489, at CAB.II, fol. 25v , may relate to this dispute, as the chapter was apparently also defending the vicar’s rights against the parishioners. 66

See pp. 101–02.

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market, also appear in the 1488/89 petitions, complaining about attempts to constrain the chapter’s freedom to choose the farmers.67 Widows and other relatives of deceased farmers held some of the farms, in near-dynastic successions.68 The farmers also sought long-term access to the resources, with extended terms and guaranteed renewals.69 Even so, provision for competition at renewal, made conditional on meeting any higher offer from a rival, would give the chapter the upper hand in the appropriate market conditions. In the farming arrangements, it may be significant that many of the lessees were from local gentry families. The activities of the gentry in fifteenth-century Derbyshire have already been examined in detail, but tithe-farming has not been fully integrated into their economic survival strategies.70 Admittedly, the evidence is at present limited, and nothing like a full argument can be presented here; but the available evidence of tithe farming does suggest that Derbyshire’s gentry families felt that they had a right of access to this economic resource and sought to maintain their hold. In this regard, it is intriguing that William, Lord Hastings, appears as ‘supervisor’ in an account of 1480.71 Unfortunately, the losses among the chapter records preclude any detailed examination of how he used that post; but it is significant that he held it when also establishing his political hegemony in Derbyshire. The account’s coincidence with Hastings’s period of political dominance of Derbyshire, based on his stewardship of the duchy of Lancaster estates, suggests that he sought to control the two main sources of economic patronage within the Peak for his own benefit and the Crown’s. For as long as he held them, his powers as ‘supervisor’ would complement those which he exercised as local royal agent — and demonstrate that access to tithing revenues and supervision of tithing arrangements were important concerns. His position suggests subtle exploitation of access to ecclesiastical resources for non-ecclesiastical purposes.72

67

CAB.II, fol. 24r. The chapter’s leasing arrangements were not always justified solely on economic grounds: see e.g. CAB.II, fol. 20v ; CAB.IV, fols 74v–75 r, 110r. 68

See especially CAB.II, fols 17v , 44r , 52v .

69

CAB.III, fol. 126v ; CAB.IV, fols 23v , 25v , 57r, 58 v, 74 v, 81 v.

70

On the gentry, see Wright, Derbyshire Gentry (but see note 8).

71

Above, pp. 95–96, 101.

72

For Hastings in Derbyshire, see Wright, Derbyshire Gentry, pp. 78–81, 88–89, 105–07, 116–17, 146–47.

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Richard Vernon accounted as ‘subproctor’ (presumably for Hastings) in 1481–83; he last accounted (his precise status then unstated) in Lent 1484.73 By then the chapter was perhaps dissatisfied with the exploitation of its resources by Crown agents and local gentry, as the 1484 account — at which Vernon owed almost £53, handing over only £8 on the day — was the last for some decades noted as offered by one of the Derbyshire gentry.74 In 1485–87 the accountant was Thomas Godsalve, the chapter clerk. He also owed money when his accounts were struck but cleared the outstanding balance immediately.75 Shortly after the chapter appointed William Kirke, the vicar of Bakewell, as proctor; he held the post throughout the 1490s.76 He too fell into debt, but not significantly. In his final list of arrears, only 29s. was owed from 1495, and the £20-plus originally owed for 1497 had been reduced to under 6s. The largest debt was the most recent, with £47 1s. 11d. due from 1498. £21 6s. 8d. was apparently still unpaid by (or in the hands of) various tenants, including local gentry. However, over £26 was held by the vicar, so was presumably available for immediate settlement.77 Subsequent tenure of the proctorship is obscure, but William Bagshawe, vicar of Hope, was appointed in 1524.78 The layman Ralph Gell is described as the chapter’s agent in 1530 and delivered the account in 1531 and subsequent years.79 The last account, for 1537–38, was submitted by Ralph Sneyd as communar.80 By its nature, tithe farming was potentially more exploitative of the payers at the bottom of the pyramid than direct administration by the chapter (although in reality there may have been little difference, certainly not from the payers’ perspective). Farmers, having paid a lump sum and treating the tithes as commercial resources, were probably more assiduous collectors than the dean and chapter, and less charitable (if the proctor had been allowed such leeway).81 Yet the villagers who were the great majority of local tithe-payers are largely invisible. How tithe

73

CAB.II, fols 1v, 5v, 7v, 11v. He was possibly the real agent throughout.

74

CAB.II, fol. 11r.

75

CAB.II, fols 13v , 15r , 18v .

76

He accounted in 1493 for debts stretching back three years: CAB.II, fol. 53v. For other notes of accounts rendered, see CAB.III, fols 8r (1493), 10r (1494), 32v (1497), and the following note. 77

CAB.II, fol. 45r.

78

CAB.IV, fol. 10v , see also fol. 41v .

79

CAB.IV, fols 67v, 71v, 93v, 109v, 112r.

80

DRO, D258/32/2/3.

81

Dodds, ‘Managing Tithes’, p. 153.

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arrangements impacted on the agricultural and industrial populations which sustained the complexities of the micro-economy of the Peak area remains obscure.82 The willingness to farm clearly fed into the farmers’ survival strategies. Here various possibilities appear, varying with the scale and nature of involvement, and possibly the types of commodities being tithed. Farmers generally covered a wide range, including members of the gentry and nobility, merchants for whom tithe marketing fed into wider commercial activity with tithes sometimes providing raw materials for business ventures or even (as at Hassop in 1523) individuals buying back the tithes of their own crops for their own use.83 Some tithe farming was probably speculative, being much less onerous for the farmer than farming manorial demesnes.84 The profitability of tithe farming clearly depended on the market: usually, unless they were immediately consumed, sold, or used as raw materials for a commercial venture, tithes were worthless. The fluctuating strategies adopted for tithe farming obviously reflected the demands and dictates of the market; if farming was to be an effective economic strategy for the tithe owners, the leases had to be attractive to potential farmers. The amounts paid for the Peak tithes must reflect what such would-be farmers were prepared to offer, which in a particularly competitive market might exceed the actual market value.85 Within the Peak, the range of economic opportunities affected how other parties treated the potential of the spirituality revenues. Particularly significant here were the opportunities to exploit the lead resources. Gentry families competed for the farms of Crown rights over lead,86 and probably also competed for access to the tithes — not least because they were paid in kind, and so provided raw materials for the farmers’ own smelting activities.87 Such gentry exploitation of the economic potential of tithes was one element in their families’ overall strategies for survival. These maybe exploited not merely 82

For the ‘survival strategies’ for local villagers, placed alongside those of the Mendip area of Somerset, see Ian Blanchard, ‘Industrial Employment and the Rural Land Market, 1380–1520’, in Land, Kinship, and Life-cycle, ed. by Richard M. Smith, Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 227–75 (pp. 229–35, 241–64). 83

Above, p. 97; Dodds, ‘Managing Tithes’, p. 135.

84

Dodds, ‘Managing Tithes’, p. 136.

85

Dodds, ‘Managing Tithes’, pp. 136–37.

86

Blanchard, ‘Derbyshire Lead Production’, p. 121.

87

Wright, Derbyshire Gentry, pp. 21, 23.

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the raw materials, but also the cash generated by later sales. While theoretically agents, as middlemen the farmers could be reluctant payers. It has been suggested that the Derbyshire gentry who held Crown offices and farmed Crown resources ‘treated the revenues that came into their hands [. . .] as a source of credit, withholding revenues or farms as long as possible’.88 The same tactic could be used by gentry tithe farmers. While specific evidence is lacking, the abandonment of gentry proctors after 1484 suggests that it was. The income received and handled by gentry families as intermediaries in the tithing arrangements (which could also be a subsidy) was one possible factor which allowed some gentry families to engage heavily in the land market in late medieval Derbyshire. Profiteering ‘go-ahead gentry’ were well placed to invest in land and thereby secure their families’ futures.89

VI In 1537–38 the grain tithe farms in the three Peak parishes were generally on an upward trend. Entries in the Lichfield chapter act books indicate rivalry for access to tithe resources, whether grain and hay or lambs and wool. The micro-economy of the High Peak had suffered economic tribulations in the fifteenth century, but the chapter of Lichfield weathered the storm and appeared well placed for the future. The impact of the fluctuations and changes in its spirituality receipts since 1400 was not confined to the canons of a distant cathedral. Within the Peak district, the economic opportunities presented by the spirituality revenues, especially the tithes of lead, grain, lambs, and wool, had been integrated into the survival strategies of the local inhabitants, whether gentry or villagers (or, indeed, local clerics). Occasionally this had produced clashes with the chapter, or among themselves, and doubtless with the payers. It seems clear that these revenues were vital elements in many gentry incomes, access to them being central to the way the more entrepreneurial families confronted the evolutions in the Peak’s micro-economy. While the evolutions in the Peak District would not be exactly replicated elsewhere, they suggest that spirituality revenues, and particularly tithes, are a factor in England’s economic and social history which cannot be ignored without distorting understanding of contemporary perceptions of opportunity and

88

Wright, Derbyshire Gentry, p. 24.

89

Wright, Derbyshire Gentry, p. 24.

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potential.90 Understandably, access to such resources became a core issue in the economic history of the English Reformation, from the 1529 Act of Parliament which extended lay access to and control over such clerical receipts, through to the complete transfer of many tithes from ecclesiastical appropriators to lay impropriators after the dissolution of the monasteries.91 Their importance to medieval clerics and ecclesiastical institutions is self-evident; only further research will establish their precise role in medieval familial economic strategies.

90

See further Swanson, ‘Universal Levy’.

91

On the legislation and its impact, see Palmer, Selling the Church, chs 6–7.

W AGED B UILDING E MPLOYMENT IN M EDIEVAL E NGLAND : S UBSISTENCE S AFETY N ET OR D EMOGRAPHIC T RAMPOLINE ? John Langdon

T

his chapter takes as its starting point the work of two leading scholars of the medieval economy and society. The first, as befitting this volume, concerns Christopher Dyer’s investigations, through a series of major publications, into the standards of living of medieval English people, from nobles down to peasants.1 Wage earning has always formed an important part of his examination of the living conditions of the medieval lower classes in particular, and he has similarly exhibited a keen awareness that wage earning in the medieval period danced to a far different tune to what we are accustomed to today. Among the especially distinctive aspects of medieval labour that Dyer identified were its uneven rhythm, being continually punctuated by religiously imposed holidays, its archly seasonal nature interspersing frenetic activity (especially around the harvest) with long periods of relative idleness, and its irregular and unpredictable impact upon family finances.2 In line with literature generally, though, he saw the period before the Black Death as being a much leaner period for wage earners in terms of remuneration and what wages could buy than the period after, although with some

1

Notably Christopher Dyer, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; rev. edn 1998); Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002); Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 2

See especially Standards of Living, pp. 222–23.

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important qualifications, such as the tendency of employers to work employees harder in the more expensive labour conditions after 1348–49.3 The other source of inspiration for this chapter comes from an important article by John H. Munro on the phenomenon known as ‘wage-stickiness’ or the tendency of wages for a particular classification of work to remain at a set level for long periods of time, particularly as reflected in the medieval building industry.4 Part of this should come as no surprise. For one thing, the normal practice of paying labour by the day meant that it was very inexpensive compared to the base unit of currency prevailing at the time, so that any change in the labour rate meant an outsize change in the percentage increase or decrease in the worker’s reward, so that a change in the daily wage of a labourer, from say 1½d. to 2d. per day, meant a 33 per cent increase, something a lordly employer would have been loath to consider unless there was a strong reason for it, while a similar decrease would obviously have considerable impact upon the person receiving the wage. Indeed, to maintain wage stability in terms of specie, various adjustment mechanisms, like altering the length of the working day or supplying food, might have been used to deal with occasional or even long-term shortfalls or gluts in labour.5 Even so, the length of time that a set rate for a particular type of labour could remain in place might be startling, one particularly notable instance occurring when the standard wage for master masons and carpenters at various Oxford colleges remained set at 6d. per day for a period of 174 years from 1363 to 1536.6 Munro tended to see this wage stability as essentially monetarist in its causes, the late medieval stasis in wage rates, for example, being primarily determined by the relatively sluggish circulation of specie.7 But, even if one was to accept monetary flows as a plausible overarching controller of money wage rates (still a very debatable contention, I feel), it still leaves rather murky the ‘rules of engagement’ both sides used to reconcile themselves to a landscape of such unvarying wage levels, if in fact these existed. It is to explore this and other issues involved with medieval wage earning that this chapter is set out as an initial foray. First, it will examine existing building wage 3

Dyer, Standards of Living, p. 231.

4

John H. Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness, Monetary Changes, and Real Incomes in Late-Medieval England and the Low Countries, 1300–1500: Did Money Matter?’, Research in Economic History, 21 (2003), 185–297. 5

Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness’, pp. 200–04; Christopher Dyer, ‘Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages: The Case of Harvest Workers’, Agricultural History Review, 36 (1988), 21–37. 6

Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness’, p. 187.

7

Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness’, esp. pp. 213–17.

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series, particularly that created recently by Munro, through the lens of royal works accounts for castles and other Crown buildings and properties. Although these works accounts often tend to be patchy in their coverage over time, they have one critically useful feature: this is that they record labour on a week-by-week basis, so that some of the subtleties that get lost in the creation of overarching wage series by year are revealed, and thus can be critical as to how we interpret the progression of wages over time. As Dyer notes, building wages are not necessarily representative of wages as a whole, but they provide at least a useful starting point for their analysis.8 Second, the study is limited to the period before the Black Death. It was at this time that the issue of wages arguably had its most important demographic and standard-of-living implications, especially as it related to the well-being and reproductive capabilities of both individuals and families. Third, the study is directed at that tier of male workers called ‘labourers’ in the literature, who set what might be called the ‘minimum wage’ for the medieval period, that is, the lowest daily wage for an adult male worker. As will be discussed, there was a constellation of wages, some lower (women, children, prisoners), some higher (‘daubers’ or plasterers, whose wages often merged with those of more general labourers), that ranged itself around this ‘minimum wage’, but it is (and was) a useful concept around which to judge how wages performed; more importantly, it may well have functioned as a stabilizing ‘centre of gravity’, even when wages might have been momentarily distorted, as during harvests, so that wages would return comfortably to the previous level with the implicit consent of both employers and employees. Fourth, as much as possible when dealing with royal works accounts, emphasis is on the rural rather than the urban environment. As a result, four series of works accounts, those for the castles of Corfe, Rockingham, and Windsor and for the royal palace complex at Woodstock, have been selected for analysis here. These, in fact, are four of the best of the ‘country’ royal works accounts, covering at least a decade in all cases.9 The analysis will comprise two parts. The first will look at the generalized wage series before the Black Death and will consider what wage data from the four royal works account series can help: 1) to assess how static wages were in the period leading up to the Black Death, and 2) to judge what might have caused variation. The second part will provide two concrete examples of how individuals and families 8 9

Dyer, Standards of Living, pp. 220–21.

In terms of contiguous series of royal works accounts, the best come from London, particularly Westminster (The National Archives: Public Record Office (hereafter TNA: PRO), E101 466/29, etc.), but were not considered here, given the unusual position of the city in the medieval English economy.

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moulded particular strategies for dealing with this wage environment, something that the evidence from the works accounts can illuminate. A final conclusion will deal with larger issues involved in wage earning, including the critical question as to whether — as the title above suggests — wages should be seen as hedges against hard times or as fundamental to population surges. In all this, for simplicity’s sake, the complications of real wages will be avoided, partly because they are in any case very poor indicators of the aggregated incomes of families in particular.10

Wages Over Time A consideration of pre–Black Death labourer wage rates must obviously start with Phelps Brown and Hopkins’s classic work on building wages over seven centuries. However, unlike the period after 1400, when Phelps Brown and Hopkins’s data were reassuringly definite about what labourers’ wages were doing, they were much less certain about labourers’ wages in the period before then, and, in particular, they believed labourer wages before the plague fluctuated uncertainly between 1½d. and 2d. per day per worker.11 John Munro, in his ‘Wage-stickiness’ article, has attempted a more definitive series by reworking Phelps Brown and Hopkins’s wage data, as shown in Table 5, arranged in five-year periods from 1266 to 1350.12 Munro’s figures show that 1½d. per day was the most common individual wage taken by (male) labourers up to 1300, after which it rose to 2d. by 1310, remaining at that level to 1335, before subsiding again to 1½d. just before the Black Death. Table 6 shows the same thing for the four royal work sites mentioned above, with the difference that the data are expressed in individual years, made necessary by the incompleteness of accounts, but also commendable for allowing some very revealing year-to-year detail. In many ways the male labourer wage data from the works accounts support Munro’s figures. The lower 1½d. per day rate found in his figures 10

For this point, see John Langdon and James Masschaele, ‘Commercial Activity and Population Growth in Medieval England’, Past and Present, 190 (2006), 35–82 (esp. pp. 39–41). 11

E. Henry Phelps Brown and Sheila V. Hopkins, ‘Seven Centuries of Building Wages’, Economica, n. s., 22 (1955), 192–206 (pp. 198, 205). 12

Unfortunately David Farmer’s well-known wages series, useful in so many other ways, are not suitable here, since they do not directly involve labourers and focus on mean (average) values of wages rather than mode values, with which this chapter is primarily concerned: see especially David L. Farmer, ‘Prices and Wages’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. II: 1042–1350, ed. by Herbert E. Hallam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 715–817 (pp. 760–72, 811–17).

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Table 5. John Munro’s nominal labourers’ wages, 1266–1350.* Years

Nominal Daily Wage for Labourer (d.) 1266–70 1.50 1271–75 1.50 1276–80 1.50 1281–85 1.50 1286–90 1.50 1291–95 1.50 1296–1300 1.50 1301–05 1.65 1306–10 1.80 1311–15 2.00 1316–20 2.00 1321–25 2.00 1326–30 2.00 1331–35 2.00 1336–40 1.80 1341–45 1.50 1346–50 1.50 * from Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness’, Table 6, pp. 243–44.

up to 1300 was by and large found in the works accounts for the same period. The rise after 1300 was also indicated in the Windsor accounts figures, although not on the other sites, while the Woodstock figures in particular showed a decline in wages just before the plague, which fits with Munro’s theory about this period being one of severe deflation.13 Finally, Table 6 in general displays the wage-stickiness that Munro contends, although such stickiness obviously varied in timing and duration from site to site. It might well be argued that the evidence from none of these sites is complete enough to draw such conclusions, but, in fact, Table 6 shows what might happen if Munro’s figures were similarly disaggregated, and perhaps could raise the possibility that such aggregating of evidence might lead to divergences cancelling themselves out. At the very least, showing the individual experience of each site allows some very interesting observations to be made about times when such stickiness began to loosen. The period from 1280 to 1282 at Corfe Castle is a very interesting case in this regard. The officials at the castle were clearly running into difficulties in obtaining labour for work on the castle, particularly during August 13

Munro, ‘Wage-stickiness’, pp. 207–10.

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Table 6. Daily wages for adult male labourers on various royal sites (sources: The National Archives: Public Record Office, E101 460/27–29; 480/15–29; 492/10–26; and 497/12–30 and 478/1–6). Corfe Castle

Rockingham Castle

Windsor Castle

Old Woodstock Palace and Park Year Daily Wage Year Daily Wage Year Daily Wage Year Daily Wage (d.) (d.) (d.) (d.) 1280 1½–2 1276 1½ 1294 1½ 1256 ? 1281 1½ 1277 1½ 1295 1½–2 1265 1½ 1282 2 1278 1½ 1296 1½ 1266 1½ 1285 1¼–1½ 1279 1½ 1297 1½ 1267 1½ 1290 1¼ 1280 1½ 1298 1½ 1268 1½ 1291 1¼ 1281 1½ 1308 2 1269 1½ 1292 1¼ 1282 1½ 1309 2 1270 1½ 1293 1¼ 1285 1½ 1310 2 1271 1½ 1286 1½ 1311 2 1272 1½ 1287 1½ 1312 2 1284 ? 1288 1½ 1314 2 1285 ? 1315 2 1292 1½ 1320 2 1293 1½ 1321 2 1295 1½ 1322 2 1296 1½ 1323 2 1297 1½ 1343 2 1298 1½ 1344 2 1299 1½ 1345 2 1303 1½ 1304 1½ 1334 1½ 1335 1½ 1341 1 1342 1 1343 1 1344 1 1345 1 1346 1 1347 1 Note: The question marks indicate where the accounts were too rudimentary or fragmentary to determine convincingly the wages given to labourers. For the complications concerning the dating of the Windsor accounts for 1294–95 and 1296–97, see note on Table 7.

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and September of 1280, where high rates of up to 2½d. per day for some male labourers were justified because ‘of the harvest’,14 while the hiring of ‘the daughter of the fuller’ during the same harvest period for 1d. per day was considered necessary propter periculum hominum, probably best translated as ‘because of the perilous shortage of men’.15 By 1282, the officials at Corfe were paying 2d. per day as a matter of course to labourers. When the labour crunch eased, however, officials were able gradually to lower the wage down to 1¼d. per day, which seems to have been a more normal rate for a somewhat out-of-the-way place such as Corfe. What is very noticeable about these late thirteenth-century years in the works accounts is the ‘constellation’ of what might be called lesser forms of labour that officials may have felt they were forced to use. Chief among these was that labour performed by women. It is notable how frequently they appeared in the accounts for Rockingham and Woodstock in particular. The Noreys girls at Rockingham, discussed below, often made several pounds sterling annually, while at Woodstock the amount of work performed by women often seems to have exceeded a hundred person-days per year.16 While the number of women working at Corfe Castle tended to be limited to occasional references, as in the 1280 daughter of the fuller mentioned above, there were some tantalizing glimpses here of child labour. One such, also taking place during the summer and autumn of 1280, when the hunt for labour seems to have been at its fiercest at Corfe, involved a certain Henry, garcio of the janitor, later styled more simply as Henry Janitor, who worked for several weeks during the summer and fall of 1280 carrying ‘small stones’ to a gang of masons for 1d. per day; he was also joined briefly by an Adam Wydbred, also carrying ‘small stones’, who was given 4d. for four days’ work. Although garcio is certainly a vexed term, it seems likely, as I have written elsewhere, that these were examples of pre-pubescent male labour.17 Perhaps the most intriguing of the large-scale uses of child labour comes from Rockingham, where a gang of four masons headed by Master Thomas de Welldon started up work in April 1276 and were seemingly accompanied by young, very 14

As in the case of Richard Bruton and John Ganet, who were hired for 2s. 6d., because ‘of the harvest’, for the working week of 16–21 September for carrying stones and mortar and sometimes laying stones; assuming a six-day week, this would amount to 2½d. per day: TNA: PRO, E101 460/27, m. 2r. 15

TNA: PRO, E101 460/27, m. 1r.

16 Certainly in 1271, 1293, and 1334–35: John Langdon, ‘Minimum Wages and Unemployment Rates in Medieval England: The Case of Old Woodstock, Oxfordshire, 1256–1357’, as yet unpublished paper. 17

Langdon, ‘Minimum Wages’.

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inexperienced labour. Ten garciones servitores (literally ‘boys-servants’) were hired in the work week of Monday to Saturday, 13–18 April, for ½d. per day each.18 A week later they had seasoned enough to merit 1d. per day and were again hired for the same rate the following week. Tellingly, though, in the fourth working week of the account (Monday 4 May to Saturday 9 May) these ‘boys’ were replaced by eleven servitores, mostly hired at the rate of 1½d. per day.19 Although it is difficult to be sure of the age of the original ten males, since garciones servitores might be translated as ‘inexperienced servants’, the fact that they were very young seems highly probable. It was also at Rockingham that prisoners were hired, starting in early May 1278, when a certain Walter, prisoner, was hired for 6d. for a week, probably 1d. per day, assuming a full six-day working week.20 Other prisoners were later hired at ½d. per day, the distinction between the two rates of pay being revealed in early July 1281 when two prisoners ‘without chains’ were paid 6d. per week (that is, 1d. per working day), while one prisoner ‘with chains’ was paid ½d. per day.21 The employment of prisoners at Rockingham continued intermittently to at least the autumn of 1286.22 This use of highly unconventional labour, whether female, child, or prisoner, is for the most part confined to the late thirteenth century. Women’s labour would break through later on occasion in other situations, as at Woodstock in 1334–35, when 384 women-days of work collecting moss (for bedding slates on roofs) was recorded,23 but generally such use of women was curtailed sharply after 1295. Indeed, throughout the accounts for Windsor, only 20d. was paid to women, on four occasions.24 This was perhaps in keeping with the relatively high wages paid at Windsor, which may have been aimed at ensuring an adult male workforce. In short, although notional rates of payment for basic male labour were clearly in place and, as much as possible, closely adhered to, they were in a way being continually compromised by fluctuations in the supply of labour — indeed, in the short term, probably much more than the supply of money. 18

TNA: PRO, E101 480/15, m. 1r.

19

TNA: PRO, E101 480/15, m. 1r.

20

TNA: PRO, E101 480/20, m. 1r.

21

TNA: PRO, E101 480/25, m. 1d .

22

TNA: PRO, E101 480/28, m. 5r.

23

Langdon, ‘Minimum Wages’.

24

For house and room cleaning (twice), carrying water, and clearing underbrush from around one of the castle towers in 1297 (bis), 1298, and 1320, mostly at a rate of 1d. per day, per woman, see TNA: PRO, E101 491/11, m. 3d ; 492/12, m. 1r; 492/13, m. 8r; 492/20, m. 4d .

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Labourer Histories and Strategies In general terms, though, the royal works account data support the prevailing literature that wages tended to be ‘sticky’ over time and that, when fluctuations occurred, there was an inclination to return to a mutually accepted level set by custom. Although individual sites might institute a policy of raising wages to ensure adult male labour, it would take a cataclysmic event like the plague to send wages to a markedly new level all across the board. Until then, for common labourers in rural situations up to 1348, 1½d. or 2d. per day (depending on the location) seems as much as an adult male could have expected, whatever the experience, talent, or trustworthiness for the job. Wages for women, children, prisoners, and other forms of labour considered sub-optimal at the time were even lower, although arguably less set in stone since they functioned as an ‘emergency’ form of labour. In such a contest, any reward for experience, talent, or trustworthiness must have come in other guises. We do not see this in the anonymity of the raw data on wages, but rather in detailed biographies of the workers involved, particularly as the accounts often name individuals and supply information, sometimes direct and sometimes indirect, about their family situation. Alexander Lucas at Windsor Castle Perhaps the most important form of reward, in lieu of higher wages, was in the frequency and longevity of employment. The king’s officials seem often to have gone back to the same workers repeatedly, so that even a common labourer, although stuck at the same wage year after year, might have call on a reasonably consistent source of income. One such case involves an Alexander Lucas, who seemingly worked as a manual labourer at the castle site of Windsor for probably at least twenty-one years during the period 1294–1315, as shown in Table 7.25 He may well have been employed before 1294, but the only other surviving account for the castle works before this was for a short spell in August and September of 1273, in

25

I am assuming that it was the same Alexander Lucas throughout. Apart from a later John Lucas (see below), he was the only person with the surname ‘Lucas’ in the Windsor accounts listed in Table 7, and there were no references to ‘senior’, ‘junior’, ‘elder’, ‘younger’, etc., as was normally the case when father and son or two persons with the same name were recorded in a span of accounts.

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Table 7. Career of Alexander Lucas, operator, at Windsor Castle, 1294–1315 (sources: The National Archives: Public Record Office, E101 492/11–13, 15–19). Account Period Number of Days Worked Amount Paid (d.) Mean Payment Per Day (d.) 1294–95 134 228 1.70 1296–97 32½ 49 1.51 1297–98 33½ 52 1.55 1308 – – – 1309–10 67½ 135 2.00 1310–11 150 300½ 2.00 1311–12 106 212 2.00 1314–15 56½ 118 2.09 Total 580 1,094½ Overall Mean 1.89 Note: All accounts ran from the feast of St Michael (29 September) of one year to St Michael of the next, except for the 1308 account, which was only for the period 13 July to St Michael. The datings for the 1294–95 and 1296–97 accounts used here seem to contradict those indicated in the headings for each account, which would suggest 1295–96 and 1297–98 respectively, but applying these latter years creates many internal contradictions in the week-by-week dating in the accounts, especially around Easter, so it appears that the earlier years (1294–95 and 1296–97), where the contradictions do not arise, were the ones actually meant by the scribes.

which no labourers’ wages were itemized.26 The surviving accounts in which Lucas appears fall into two groups of 1294–98 and 1308–15. He was often styled as a ‘worker’ (operator) in both, putting him in a lower-status category than the various craftsmen recorded, but clearly had become more established in the twelve years separating the two groups of accounts. In the first group of accounts he was generally paid the lesser amount of 1½d. per day and worked for fewer days, especially during 1296–98. Although he did not appear in the short 13 July–29 September account for 1308, employment was more consistent after 1309, and he was now paid at the higher 2d. per day rate, although it should be said that this was probably due less to his own personal abilities than the fact that all ‘workers’ on the site now got 2d. per day. Indeed, the range of jobs he did was essentially the same in 1294–98 as it was in 1308–15 with a heavy ‘handyman’ emphasis throughout, so that he could be set to any number of jobs. The breakdown for his busiest year at the castle in 1310–11 shows that, of the 150 days worked, forty-six days were spent helping masons and another fifteen days helping tilers; sixty-six days were spent on

26

TNA: PRO, E101 492/9B.

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various digging jobs; six days were occupied in carrying timber; for six days he was simply ‘working’ (task not specified): and, finally, he spent eleven days plastering walls. For six of the plastering days, he was teamed with Richard atte Welle and seemingly in a supervisory position, since he received 2½ d. for each of these days, while Richard only received 2d. Normally though (and indeed for much of the time in the 1308–15 period), Lucas was teamed with a John Ailwaker (including some instances where the two of them were joined by others), so that the two worked side by side for ninety-eight of Lucas’s 150 waged days in 1310–11. The fact that Lucas’s situation with Ailwaker was more cooperative than competitive was indicated in a single reference in this particular account, where, in addition to all the wages they received during the year, Lucas and Ailwaker were paid 2s. 3d. in the middle of May 1311 for the task of plastering various walls in the castle, a sort of mini-contract that Lucas and Ailwaker clearly made together with the royal overseers.27 It is probably in this same entrepreneurial spirit that Lucas — on his own this time — also sold 4500 pins to the castle officials for 13½d. over two weeks in late June and early July of 1311 and another nine thousand for 18d. in October of 1314.28 But the positive effects of this sort of activity should not be exaggerated. Employment was hardly guaranteed and was often very sporadic, as in the years where Lucas worked fifty days or less (Table 7). It might be that this fit well with other forms of livelihood that Lucas had, perhaps a plot of land or other sources of employment (about which, in the absence of supporting series of documents like court rolls, we unfortunately know nothing), but life was probably very precarious nonetheless. It is notable, for instance, that neither Alexander Lucas nor John Ailwaker were recorded in the next set of works accounts for the castle in 1320–23.29 This suggests that both may have died during the intervening famine years. Lucas at least may well have had descendants who carried on in his shoes. A John Lucas, for instance, appeared as a labourer in the 1314–15 and 1320–22 accounts.30 No Lucases were found in the next detailed sets of accounts for 1343–45,31 so it would appear the family soon died out or perhaps moved on to better things elsewhere. 27

TNA: PRO, E101 492/17, m. 4r.

28 TNA: PRO, E101 492/17, m. 4r; 492/19, m. 1r. The 1314 reference indicates that these were pins for tiling. 29

TNA: PRO, E101 492/20 and 21.

30

He worked for at least twenty-two days in 1314–15 and 21½ days from 1320 to 1322: TNA: PRO, E101 492/19, ms. 1r–2r; 492/20, ms. 1r, 5r–6r. 31

TNA: PRO, E101 492/24.

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The Noreys Family at Rockingham Castle As this appearance of John Lucas, however fleetingly, suggests, family involvement on a site might intensify earnings, even if only for short periods of time. Any number of occasions of this could be given from the accounts, but perhaps the most unusual example of this sort of family involvement occurred at Rockingham Castle in Northamptonshire, where a series of works accounts from 1276 to 1288 witnesses the slow rise of a man and what look to be his four daughters as a labouring group at the castle.32 William Noreys (also spelled ‘Noreis’; I have preferred the medieval spelling here rather than the modern ‘Norris’) appeared in the earliest of these accounts (that is, for 1276) as one of a number of servitores — literally ‘servants’, but here meaning general labourers helping the master mason, William de Acle, and his crew of stone-cutters (cissores) and stone-layers (cubitores). For this supportive work, Noreys earned 9d. for the working week of Monday 15 June to Saturday 20 June 1276, that is, 1½d. per day.33 Although he was not named specifically again in this account, it is likely that he was among the unnamed servitores listed in subsequent weeks for the account. He is recorded specifically again in early October of 1277, once more helping masons for a wage equivalent to 1½d. per working day, after which he is named fairly regularly in the accounts, his name usually coming first or second among the servitores. He may have been able to use his influence as an increasingly trusted worker to get his two daughters, Richolda and Edith, installed as servitores on the two teams of masons working on the castle at the time, headed by Master Thomas of Welldon and Master Richard of Acle, in the late summer and early autumn of 1278, significantly the period of the harvest when the castle was likely to be short of labour.34 Richolda and Edith were

32

TNA: PRO, E101 480/15–29.

33

TNA: PRO, E101 480/15, m. 1r. The nature of the work done by the servitores is never specified in this series of accounts, but it is clear from works accounts for other royal sites, such as Woodstock, that it involved such things as fetching stones, carrying sand, water, or lime for making mortar, or making the mortar itself: Langdon, ‘Minimum Wages’. 34

TNA: PRO, E101 480/20, m. 3r; 480/21, m. 1r. The father-daughter relationship between William, on one side, and Richolda (probably the elder of the two sisters, since her name usually came first, as in the 1287–88 account discussed below) and Edith (given alternately as Editus or Editha in the accounts) on the other was indicated in early May 1279, when there was a reference to the wages of ‘William Noreys, Edith Noreys and Richolda her sister’, while a month and a half later in late June, the same account recorded the wages of ‘William Noreys and Richolda Noreys, his daughter’ (480/21, ms. 3 r, 5 r). The situation is complicated by another group of people called ‘Noreys’, who seem to have come from Blatherwycke (about ten kilometres to the east and slightly

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seemingly also good workers who quickly established themselves as regular employees, making the same 1½d. per day as the men among the servitores. In the harvest period of 1279, the building schedule was so hectic and basic labour so short that the castle officials hired at least ten more women to help out during August.35 Indeed, they seem to have considered that the labour situation had become so confused that, in an unusual separate accounting at the end of the document, they felt it necessary to itemize those who normally worked on the site. Richolda Noreys was listed (along with her father, William) under the six servitores serving Master Thomas (of Welldon), and Edith Noreys under the six serving Master Richard (of Acle), the only two women among the forty-six ‘regulars’ on the Rockingham site.36 The trio of William and his two daughters worked at least until April 1282.37 Work for them seems to have been very steady. As against most of the accounts, which are often incomplete, fragmentary, or too faded or stained to allow a full employment analysis, the complete and, for the most part, clear account for Michaelmas (29 September) 1280 to Michaelmas 1281 shows them employed collectively for 533 working days and making 796½d. (equivalent to £3 6s. 4½d.).38 Work was split almost evenly among the three of them, with William and Richolda each working 173 days and Edith 187 days. How long this lucrative employment for the three family members continued is uncertain. Indeed, in the next surviving account, from the feast of St Michael 1285 to St Michael 1286, neither William Noreys nor his daughter Richolda were recorded. Since Master Thomas de Welldon was also no longer present as one of the master masons at the castle, it is possible that William and Richolda followed Thomas to other work. Edith Noreys, however, was still working, and she was joined by two other ‘Noreys’ women, Alice and Amicia, who were likely younger sisters of Edith, given the history outlined below. Of the 308½ days’ employment in 1285–86 by all three women Edith worked 196½ days, Alice following with 108 days, and Amicia, seemingly very junior at this time, only 4. Altogether, the women brought in 463½d. (or £1 18s. 7½d.), to which

north of Rockingham Castle). For the most part, however, this Noreys group worked rather infrequently as diggers in quarries away from the castle site and had little to do with William and his daughters, although they were quite possibly relatives. 35

TNA: PRO, E101 480/23, ms. 1r–2r.

36

TNA: PRO, E101 480/23, m. 2d .

37

TNA: PRO, E101 480/26.

38

TNA: PRO, E101 480/25.

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Edith was able to add part of a 5s. 3d. payment that she and a Ralph Knocte received for cleaning the new cellar and chapel by piece work (ad tascham) over Christmas. If we assume that Edith received something like 30d. for this work,39 this would raise the ‘family’ wage income to £2 1s. 1½d. The next and final surviving Rockingham Castle works account before the Black Death, for 1287–88, although partly damaged by rot, shows the consolidation of the Noreys women as a working unit on the site. Although again her father is never mentioned, Richolda had returned and the four Noreys women were now consistently recorded together, often simply as ‘Richolda, Edith, Alice and Amicia Noreys’,40 reinforcing the sense that they were a family group, probably all sisters. Although occasionally doing other jobs, they generally served as helpers to the masons, now headed by Masters William Dylkyn and Richard de Acle. Although there seems to have been a long winter layover from about the middle of November to late April when building was slack, the Noreys women nonetheless found plenty of employment. Despite the fact that the rotted part of the manuscript covered nine working weeks from Monday 3 May to Saturday 5 July, usually a busy time for building, the total recorded days work outside this period for the four women was still impressive at 392 days — 45 days for Richolda, 116 for Edith, 120 for Alice, and 111 for Amicia — for a total earnings of 585d. or £2 8s. 9d. If the missing portion had survived, it is likely that the womens’ earnings would have pushed well beyond £3.41 The Noreys case gives some sense of how occasional earnings in building might have been aggregated at a family level. The multitude of references to people hired as labourers, especially women, whose identification comes from another family member, such as ‘John, son of Richard [&] Matilda, wife of Richard’, ‘Alice, daughter of Peter the butcher’, ‘Joan, daughter of Agnes’, ‘Matilda, daughter of Alexander’, or the intriguing ‘Goda, daughter of the parson’,42 indicate family

39

Throughout the 1285–86 account Ralph tended to be paid 10d. per week compared to Edith’s 9d.: TNA: PRO, E101 480/25. Applying this ratio to the 5s. 3d. payment Ralph would receive 33d. and Edith 30d. 40

As during the work week of 13–18 October (‘St Luke Evangelist’) 1287: TNA: PRO, E101 480/29, m. 1r. 41

When the account becomes sufficiently legible to make out the women’s activities in early July, all four were working, usually for 9d. per week (TNA: PRO, E101 480/29, m. 3r). Taking the most optimistic eventuality that all four worked for six days a week, at 1½d. per day each, during the missing nine-week period, their total earnings for this interval would have been 324d. or £1 7s. 42

All from Rockingham accounts: TNA: PRO, 480/25–28.

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connections and possibly the ‘pot’ into which the wages earned would go. Husband and wife teams were occasionally also evident. Thus Henry and Geoffrey le Byke, roofers, mended the roofs of several houses of Corfe Castle for a week in September 1282, at 2s. 6d., while the wife of Geoffrey ‘served’ them for the same week for 6d.43 Also, Robert Fretebuch and his wife carried stone from the gate of the castle to the hands of the stone-layer for three days at a total combined wage of 7½d. in March 1292.44 Opportunities at building sites may well have extended to other family resources, such as those for transport. The works for Corfe Castle in particular showed a range of hired carrying services in the early 1280s, with (ox-hauled) carrae, (horse-hauled) carectae, as well as pack-horses being engaged intermittently to haul materials to or around the castle.45 Some individuals alternated between being such carriers and doing manual work. Thus, John le Wayte carried sand with his horse for two consecutive weeks in October 1285 at 21d. per week (3½d. per day, assuming a six-day week), while at other times in October or early November he helped a plumber or cleaned rooms and houses for 7½d. per week (or 1¼d. per day over a six-day week).46

Conclusion On the general issue of wage-stickiness, the works accounts certainly support the notion of set wage rates for particular types of jobs that could endure for decades if not centuries. On the other hand, contra the monetarist argument, which would suggest broadly similar patterns of rise and decline or of stability of wages everywhere, the works accounts indicate that ‘wage-stickiness’ varied in intensity from region to region. Broadly national trends probably only occurred in rare circumstances. The labour crisis brought on by the plague in the middle of the fourteenth century is already very well known. What the royal works accounts seem to be indicating, though, is that there was another, and perhaps equally important, labour shortage in the 1270s, 1280s, and even perhaps the early 1290s, as exemplified in the Corfe, Rockingham, and Woodstock cases, and even perhaps at Windsor, when it led eventually to a rise to 2d. per day per labourer rate in order to secure a steady 43

TNA: PRO, 460/27, m. 7r.

44

Robert presumably got 1½d. per day for a total of 4½d., while his wife got 1d. per day for a total of 3d.: TNA: PRO, 462/28, m. 3r. 45

TNA: PRO, 480/27, ms. 6r–10r.

46

TNA: PRO, 480/27, ms. 9r–10r.

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(male) labour supply for what was a prestige site. Corfe in particular shows officials there in the early 1280s desperately trying to keep wages down to the 1½d. per day level, but often failing and recording various excuses as to why they offered higher wages to, or hired women instead of, men. In contrast, monetarist factors may have been important for damping down wages in the period just before the Black Death. It is also this period when there was probably an excess labour supply, evidenced especially by the tailing off of the employment of women around 1300, and perhaps a little before, except for fleeting periods, such as the start of the Hundred Years’ War, when a certain optimism and the need for war preparations may have boosted building and the employment attendant upon it.47 If so, a combination of money shortage and a soft employment situation may have created a powerful, mutually reinforcing ‘double-whammy’ against workers in the early fourteenth century, in addition to whatever Malthusian-like issues of food resources versus population that might have complicated life at the time. It is against this background that the fortunes of individuals and families in the century or so leading up to the Black Death, and the impact of wages, must be assessed. Unfortunately, although the works accounts do supply a lot of qualitative and quantitative data about how workers and their families could accumulate wages, they are far less forthcoming about the critical issue as to how these workers, male or female, spent their wages. Beyond the always present possibility of frivolous expenditure, did they use these wages primarily for subsistence, the ‘social safety net’ factor? Or did they put them to the other equally vital, but very different, purpose of providing the financial resources for setting up new families and thus increasing fertility, as has been argued recently in an attempt to link commercial activity with demographic growth through the mechanism of family income?48 As is all too common with historical research, the evidence presented here can hardly be considered unequivocal for either position. For example, concerning the social safety net option, it seems obvious that the level of wages observed here for Alexander Lucas or William Noreys and his daughters would be a flimsy safeguard against, say, the high grain prices during the famine conditions of 1315–17, unless

47

For the increased spending on the Bishop of Winchester’s estate at the start of the Hundred Years’ War, see John Langdon, Jill Walker, and John R . Falconer, ‘Boom and Bust: Building Investment on the Bishop of Winchester’s Estate in the Early Fourteenth Century’, in The Winchester Pipe Rolls and Medieval English Society, ed. by R . H. Britnell (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003), pp. 139–55 (esp. pp. 149–52). 48

Langdon and Masschaele, ‘Commercial Activity and Population Growth’, esp. pp. 41–42, 73–74.

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they had substantial alternative sources of income or food; Lucas himself might well have been a victim to those inclement forces. Similarly, based on these two case studies, the demographic trampoline alternative seems, on the surface, little more likely. We certainly see little sign in the Windsor accounts that Alexander Lucas produced large numbers of children to succeed him, and the situation is probably even clearer for William Noreys’s daughters. Richolda and Edith in particular had working careers of at least ten years each from 1278 to 1288 and, given the lack of change in their surnames, likely remained unmarried throughout the period. If so, their stories might well be added to those concerning the lives of single women in medieval society,49 or may even replicate, for an earlier period, Jeremy Goldberg’s observation for post–Black Death York that women routinely delayed marriage in a situation where their labour was in demand.50 On the other hand, as mentioned above, this study seems to be indicating a period from the 1270s to early 1290s when the two aspects of wage earning may have been working in concert, with the demand for labour, often at relatively high wages, contributing both to meeting subsistence requirements and to providing cash reserves to meet the disbursements for dowries, entry fines, and other payments that were considered social requirements for setting up young couples. With these two outcomes working together, one helping to reduce mortality, the other helping to increase fertility, it would scarcely be surprising that population was rising rapidly in the thirteenth century.51 In contrast to the Lucas and Noreys case studies, the positive demographic effects of building employment, in fact, may have accrued mostly to those who were less involved in the business as a matter of course, but had other sources of income to which anything picked up in building would have been a welcome addition. The case of John le Wayte mentioned above would be one of these, as well as the myriad of wives, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters who were occasionally hired on building sites. In this regard, and very reminiscent of Christopher Dyer’s emphasis in general on the humble and hardworking in medieval society, the demographic and economic implications of building work

49 Many publications could be cited here, but for the most thorough examination of a single countrywoman in medieval England, see Judith M. Bennett, A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, c. 1295–1344 (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1999). 50

P. J. P. Goldberg, Women, Work, and Life Cycle in a Medieval Economy: Women in York and Yorkshire c.1300–1520 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), esp. ch. 8. 51

For the argument that most of the population increase noted for England from the eleventh to the early fourteenth centuries was crammed into the thirteenth century, see Langdon and Masschaele, ‘Commercial Activity and Population Growth’, esp. pp. 54–68.

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for this large and largely unseen sector of casual workers might have been much more critical that these occasional references would suggest, especially if they were symptomatic of the abundance of such labour elsewhere at the time. This study can only suggest these sorts of possibilities. Also, it should be asked whether the evidence from a limited segment of the economy like building is sufficient to make even these surmises. One could fall back on the old saw that the evidence is as good as we can get, but we should probably be more optimistic than that. It has never been claimed here that building was the entire economy, but it seems in many ways to have been a good bellwether, especially for employment issues, and we might find that what we see in building was going on elsewhere in the economy if we would only look for it.

T OWN , C OUNTRY , AND L AW : R OYAL C OURTS AND R EGIONAL M OBILITY IN M EDIEVAL E NGLAND , C . 1200– C . 1400 James Masschaele

T

hroughout his career, Christopher Dyer has exhibited an ongoing interest in the role towns played in medieval social and economic life. One could cite in this regard his many articles dedicated to urban settlement forms and the spatial distribution of towns, as well as his local studies of small towns such as Stratford and Bromsgrove.1 His work has illustrated in particular the extensive interaction between residents of the countryside and those of towns. Peasants and other rural inhabitants made use of towns both as marketing centres for the sale of their surplus produce and as consumption centres for the acquisition of a wide array of consumer goods. Dyer has consistently pushed historians to rethink the role towns played in medieval society and to view them as intimately associated with the life of the countryside. Where historians once sought to characterize

1

Representative publications include Christopher Dyer, ‘How Urbanised Was Medieval England?’, in Peasants and Townsmen in Medieval Europe: Studies in honorem Adriaan Verhulst, ed. by Jean-Marie Duvosquel and Erik Thoen (Gent: Snoeck-Ducaju, 1995); Dyer, ‘Market Towns and the Countryside in Late Medieval England’, Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire, 31 (1996), 17–35; Dyer, ‘Medieval Stratford: A Successful Small Town’, in The History of an English Borough: Stratford-upon-Avon 1196–1996, ed. by Robert Bearman (Stroud: Sutton, 1997), pp. 43–61; Dyer, Bromsgrove: A Small Town in Worcestershire in the Middle Ages, Worcestershire Historical Society Occasional Publications, 9 (Worcester: Worcestershire Historical Society, 2000); Dyer, ‘Small Places with Large Consequences: The Importance of Small Towns in England, 1000–1540’, Historical Research, 75 (2002), 1–24; Dyer, ‘The Urbanizing of Staffordshire: The First Phases’, Staffordshire Studies, 14 (2002), 1–31; Dyer, ‘The Archaeology of Medieval Small Towns’, Medieval Archeology, 47 (2003), 85–114.

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towns as distinctive and exceptional forms of social organization divorced from the world of lords and peasants, they now often treat them as parts of a broader social whole characterized by extensive movement and regional contact. This study seeks to build on Professor Dyer’s work by exploring how the formation of a national legal system in England in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries served to facilitate interaction between town and country. Towns were centres of administration and governance as well as centres for economic production and consumption. Throughout the period considered here, hundreds of people in every county travelled to their county town every year to participate in the operation of royal justice, forging economic and social bonds between town and country while also shaping the period’s legal and political landscape. Participants in the king’s courts were a socially heterogeneous group, frequently including gentry and lesser lords, but also regularly including peasants and others from more humble social backgrounds. Indeed, one of the most interesting attributes of the royal court system is its social diversity and inclusiveness. Traffic between town and country in a legal context was built upon the court system’s effectiveness in providing people with regular and recurring access to royal justice. Improving access and promoting greater participation characterized many of the legal initiatives undertaken by Angevin kings. One of their key innovations was the creation and operation of itinerant courts convened in the counties but staffed by royal justices intimately connected to the central courts. To illustrate how these courts facilitated relationships between town and country, it is necessary to examine carefully the locations where they were convened and the frequency with which they met, a task that will be taken up in the first section of this chapter. In addition to understanding the structure of the itinerant courts, it is important to appraise the scale on which they operated. In particular, it is worth knowing how many people had a formal role to play in the courts, a topic that will be explored in the second part of the paper, focusing mainly on the involvement of jurors and other local representatives obliged to attend the courts. The concluding section of the paper will consider some of the implications of hosting court sessions for the towns that served as the principal venues for royal justice. By drawing large crowds of people from the surrounding countryside into towns, the itinerant royal courts were a boon to urban economies, promoting the kind of interaction between town and country that Christopher Dyer has described in so many other contexts.

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I A good place to begin an assessment of the role itinerant royal courts played in bringing town and country together is to consider the types of courts that facilitated regular access to royal justice in the countryside. Rather than funnelling all legal business through a single centralized location, royal justice provided dozens of access points that were widely distributed geographically. The key to the system was the creative use of itinerant justices, men who were trained in the principles and procedures of the king’s principal court, but who could also be sent out from the centre to convene courts and conduct judicial business in other locations.2 Itinerant justices were authorized to hold several different types of courts in the counties they visited. The prototypical form for the dispensation of royal justice by traveling judges is the eyre court, which can be traced back to the reign of Henry I (1100–35).3 It is important to keep in mind, however, that eyres constituted only one of several different types of itinerant royal courts operating in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In addition to travelling on the broad-ranging commissions associated with eyre courts, itinerant justices were also regularly dispatched with more limited commissions to hear and determine several types of regular and recurring judicial business. Three types of itinerant court handled most of this routine activity: assize courts, gaol deliveries, and peace sessions. Though closely related to each other, each has a distinctive history that is worth exploring separately. Assize courts were convened to resolve property disputes litigated according to the terms of one of the possessory assizes, principally novel disseisin, mort

2

Ralph Pugh, Itinerant Justices in English History (Exeter: Exeter University, 1967); Anthony Musson and W. Mark Ormrod, The Evolution of English Justice: Law, Politics and Society in the Fourteenth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999), ch. 3. 3

Good accounts of the development of eyre courts can be found in William T. Reedy, ‘The Origins of the General Eyre in the Reign of Henry I’, Speculum, 41 (1966), 688–724; Ralph V. Turner, The King and his Courts: The Role of John and Henry III in the Administration of Justice, 1199–1240 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1968); Alan Harding, The Law Courts of Medieval England (London: Allen and Unwin, 1973); The 1235 Surrey Eyre, ed. by Cecil A. F. Meekings and David Crook, Surrey Record Society, 31 (Guildford: Surrey Record Society, 1979); Royal Justice and the Medieval English Countryside: The Huntingdonshire Eyre of 1286, the Ramsey Abbey Banlieu Court of 1287, and the Assizes of 1287–88, ed. by Anne R. DeWindt and Edwin B. DeWindt, Studies and Texts, 57 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1981); David Crook, Records of the General Eyre (London: Public Record Office Handbooks, 1982).

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d’ancestor, utrum, and darrein presentment.4 Following their introduction in the reign of Henry II, these assizes proved to be extremely popular with all levels of society, giving rise to hundreds, often thousands, of legal cases every year by the early thirteenth century. Their popularity can be partly ascribed to the fact that they gave plaintiffs access to a royal court — and thus to royal implementation of a verdict — in their home county. Trials conducted according to the terms of the possessory assizes were generally held in one of two basic ways. Sometimes the king ordered the justices to conduct an ad hoc trial oriented specifically to the resolution of a single case. More commonly, he ordered them to conduct all of the assizes pending in a particular county, which commission they typically fulfilled at a single judicial session. The relationship between the two modes of conducting trials is still imperfectly understood, but single judicial sessions for multiple cases was the norm, except possibly between c. 1225 and c. 1240, when the use of special ad hoc commissions was unusually frequent.5 Justices had some discretion over where they held their sessions, but in practice they usually designated the county town as their primary base of operations. They could, however, also choose to conduct trials in one or two other towns, particularly in larger counties where the county town could not be easily reached from all parts of the county. Thus, in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, assize justices almost always held their sessions in Bedford and Cambridge respectively, but in Kent, sessions were regularly held in both Canterbury and Maidstone, and occasionally also in Rochester and Dartford.6 A few counties, such as Berkshire and Essex, did not have a single leading town and in such cases the assize courts were more dispersed, although generally still held most frequently in the largest towns. Basing sessions in the county towns made good sense administratively: sheriffs and their staffs were more readily available there, and suitable court facilities were more likely to be available. Using the county towns must have seemed natural to the residents of the county as well. From Anglo-Saxon times, most royal directives and initiatives had flowed through the county towns, and people were accustomed to travel there to attend the county court, among other things. The habit of using the 4

Donald W. Sutherland, The Assize of Novel Disseisin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973); Paul Brand, The Making of the Common Law (London: Barnes and Noble, 1992), pp. 138–41. 5 6

Sutherland, Assize of Novel Disseisin, p. 62.

Venues between 1327 and 1336 are listed in Mary M. Taylor, ‘The Justices of Assize’, in The English Government at Work, 1327–1336, ed. by James F. Willard, William A. Morris, and William H. Dunham, Jr (Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America, 1940–50), III, 252–57.

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county town as the chief assize venue was set in place relatively early, probably by the end of the twelfth century, and held true for many centuries thereafter. The frequency with which assize courts met was a regular source of concern in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.7 Virtually every king experimented with different methods of organization, often in response to demands from their subjects to send justices out more frequently and more predictably. The Magna Carta of 1215 stipulated that assize sessions should be held four times a year in each county, although subsequent reissues reduced the frequency to once each year.8 In the second Statute of Westminster of 1285, Edward I decreed that assize justices should visit each county three times each year, but this initiative likewise proved to be overly ambitious and was never fully implemented.9 In the 1330s, Edward III returned to the principle of requiring three annual assize sessions in every county, although his legislation met with no more success than had his grandfather’s.10 The actual frequency with which assize courts met can be partially reconstructed from surviving court records. Ralph Pugh’s evidence for Wiltshire in the later thirteenth and fourteenth centuries suggests that in some years justices visited the county only once, but in other years they visited as often as four times.11 The norm, however, was for assizes to be held in Wiltshire two or three times a year. Mary Margaret Taylor’s summary of surviving assize records for the first decade of Edward III’s reign (1327–36) suggests a slightly lower frequency, with one or two annual sessions per county being common.12 7

See, for example, the preamble to an ordinance of 1292 that sought to establish full-time assize justices in The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England 1275–1504, vol. I: Edward I, 1275–1294, ed. by Paul Brand (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), pp. 580–81. A petition in 1305 from the representatives of Northumberland to the king asking for more frequent assize sessions can be found in The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England 1275–1504, vol. II: Edward I, 1294–1307, ed. by Paul Brand (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), p. 63. 8 James C. Holt, Magna Carta, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 456–57; William Stubbs, Select Charters and Other Illustrations of English Constitutional History from the Earliest Times to the Reign of Edward the First, 9th edn, rev. by Henry W. C. Davis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1913), p. 342. 9

English Historical Documents, 1189–1327, vol. III, ed. by Harry Rothwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), p. 445. 10

John S. Cockburn, A History of English Assizes 1558–1714 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), p. 19. 11

Victoria County History, Wiltshire, vol. V , ed. by R . B. Pugh (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1957), p. 37. 12

Taylor, ‘Justices of Assize’.

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The second recurring type of special commission that brought itinerant justices into the countryside dealt with the holding of criminal trials, known as gaol deliveries.13 Administratively, these commissions had much in common with the assize commissions. They could, for example, be limited to a single case or be designed for all pending cases in a county. In both scenarios, justices were specifically commissioned to ‘deliver’ the gaols, meaning they were authorized to hold trials of the prisoners who had been incarcerated following an accusation of felony. Gaol delivery justices were thus essentially charged with clearing the backlog of criminal trials that had accumulated in the interval since the last delivery of a particular gaol. Venues for conducting gaol deliveries were determined largely by the location of prisons. Justices sometimes held their deliveries in a location other than a gaol site, but the practice was frowned upon; since a delivery involved shuttling prisoners back and forth from the prison to the court venue, it was wise to conduct trials near to where a prison was situated. In most counties, the main prison was located in the county town. Many counties also had secondary or franchisal prisons outside the county town, and gaol delivery justices typically visited two or three locations in succession to conduct trials. If there were few prisoners in a secondary or franchisal gaol, justices sometimes had them transferred to the main county gaol for trial. There was considerable variation in judicial practice from year to year and county to county, but, as a general rule, the delivery of gaols led justices to convene courts in many of the same towns in which the assize justices heard the property assizes. In the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, each gaol was typically delivered once or twice a year. Old Salisbury, for example, was delivered seventy-seven times between 1236 and 1286, or about once every eight months on average.14 Some years saw heightened activity — the gaol in Oxford was delivered fifteen times in 1284–85 — while other years saw no activity.15 After multiple experiments with circuits and personnel in the early fourteenth century, the delivery system became relatively fixed after c. 1330, with most counties hosting justices twice each year, a pattern that was to continue into the twentieth century.16 13

The standard work on the system of gaol delivery is Ralph B. Pugh, Imprisonment in Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968). 14

Pugh, Imprisonment in Medieval England, p. 268.

15

Pugh, Imprisonment in Medieval England, pp. 261, 268.

16

Pugh, Imprisonment in Medieval England, p. 285. The complicated history behind the defining of circuits and the reshaping of procedures is discussed thoroughly in Anthony Musson, Public Order and Law Enforcement: The Local Administration of Criminal Justice, 1294–1350 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1996).

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The third form of itinerant judicial forum that merits attention in the context of urban-rural relations is the convening of sessions of the peace. Keepers of the Peace were first employed during the baronial reform movement of the midthirteenth century as a means of increasing the effectiveness of criminal prosecution, and they and their successor Justices of the Peace continued to have this role for centuries to come.17 They were irregularly employed prior to the Statute of Winchester of 1285, which gave them a well-defined authority over policing, criminal activity, and the maintenance of local order. Their primary role was to enhance the number of criminal presentments made throughout the kingdom, but any enhancement in presentment naturally brought with it extended power to make arrests, pursue suspects, and order incarceration. Over the course of the fourteenth century, the Keepers/Justices of the Peace shunted aside most of the other venues for the hearing of presentments, notably the sheriff’s tourn, and established the peace sessions as the principal venue for initiating criminal proceedings. The evolution of the Keepers into the Justices of the Peace was part of a complicated process by which the Keepers acquired the authority to conduct criminal trials as well as take presentments.18 Acquiring this authority was an important step in their evolution, but as Anthony Musson and Mark Ormrod have recently pointed out, it would be wrong to differentiate too starkly between their two areas of jurisdiction.19 Many of the men who were commissioned to deliver gaols were also regularly appointed as Justices of the Peace, and royal mandates frequently stipulated that Justices of the Peace could only conduct criminal trials when a justice from a central court sat on the tribunal. Relatively few records of medieval peace sessions have survived, and fewer still form orderly series over long stretches of time. Thus, it is difficult to assess the frequency with which peace sessions met or to relate their timing to the property assizes and gaol deliveries. A statute of 1362 stipulated that peace sessions were to be held four times each year — giving rise to the term ‘quarter sessions’ — but it is far from clear when this became the normal practice.20 A roll of peace sessions convened in Kent between July 1316 and November 1317 indicates that justices 17

Alan Harding, ‘The Origins and Early History of the Keeper of the Peace’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 10 (1960), 85–109. 18

Edward Powell, ‘The Administration of Criminal Justice in Late-Medieval England: Peace Sessions and Assizes’, in The Political Context of Law, ed. by Richard Eales and David Sullivan (London: Continuum, 1987), pp. 48–59. 19

Musson and Ormrod, Evolution of English Justice, ch. 3.

20

Statutes of the Realm, 11 vols (London: Record Commission, 1810–28), I, 374.

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in that county took presentments on eleven separate occasions in a span of approximately seventeen months.21 Frequency on this scale was, however, uncommon. In Devon, seven peace sessions were held in a two-year period in the early 1350s.22 Similar frequencies can be found in Suffolk in the early 1360s and in Worcestershire in the 1390s.23 A record of judicial activity conducted by the justice William de Skipwith in Lincolnshire shows him holding five sessions in 1353, the bestdocumented year of the roll.24 It is hazardous to generalize on the basis of such slim evidence, but it seems reasonable to conclude that peace sessions were held three or four times each year through most of the fourteenth century. As with the property assizes and gaol deliveries, Justices of the Peace had some leeway when selecting the location of their sessions. In practice, however, they generally followed the patterns that had been laid down by assize and gaol delivery justices. This is not particularly surprising. The largest towns provided many of the same advantages to Justices of the Peace as to other itinerant justices, and since the scheduling of peace sessions was often dependent on the itineraries of justices who were also perambulating to hear assizes and deliver gaols, it made sense to congregate all judicial business in a limited number of venues. Two main points stand out in this brief sketch of the three principal itinerant courts active in medieval England. The first is that kings and justices made use of a fairly consistent network of towns as contact points, or central places, for the functioning of the itinerant court system. Itinerant justice operated essentially as a hub-and-spoke system within each county, with the county town as the local hub. Each hub was connected to Westminster, but more importantly for present purposes, each hub also had numerous spokes linking it with rural hundreds, wapentakes, and individual villages. The emergence of the royal itinerant courts in the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries did not create the hub-and-spoke pattern —

21

Kent Keepers of the Peace, 1316–1317, ed. by Bertha H. Putnam, Kent Archaeological Society: Records Branch, 13 (Ashford: Printed for the Records Branch by Headley Brothers, 1933), p. 109. 22

Proceedings Before the Justices of the Peace in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, Edward III to Richard III, ed. by Bertha H. Putnam, Ames Foundation, 5 (London: Spottiswoode, 1938), p. 82. 23 24

Proceedings Before the Justices of the Peace, ed. by Putnam, pp. 378, 431.

Records of Some Sessions of the Peace in the City of Lincoln 1351–1354 and the Borough of Stamford 1351, ed. by Elisabeth G. Kimball, Lincoln Record Society, 65 (Lincoln: Lincoln Record Society, 1971), pp. xvi–xviii.

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the origins have to be sought in the Anglo-Saxon period — but it certainly led to a great expansion in its use. The second point worth emphasizing is that itinerant justices were frequent visitors to the counties. For much of the thirteenth century, most counties could count on hosting itinerant justices two or three times each year, and for much of the fourteenth century, they could expect four or five visits per year. Royal justice was popular, and demands to increase the frequency with which justices visited were common in the period.25 The interval between visits was a pressing concern for litigants whose property had been taken as well as for prisoners lingering in a gaol, but it was also an issue for everyone else hoping for order and security. A royal ordinance of 1293 designed to revamp the itinerant justice system states the matter very simply: the king was taking action because he wished ‘insofar as it is possible that swift justice should be given to each person of the realm’.26

II Itinerant royal courts were vehicles for the delivery of jury verdicts. This simple fact goes a long way towards explaining why the operation of itinerant courts became an important contributor to the development of town-county relations. The whole system of itinerant royal justice as it developed from the later twelfth century was built around the need to have jurors available in order to conduct trials. Every case that was concluded in a property assize or gaol delivery, or every presentment that was made at a peace session, necessitated the presence of jurors in addition to the regular court staff and the principals involved in a case. Thus even sessions with relatively modest dockets required several dozen people from the surrounding countryside to travel to an assize town, while sessions with heavier caseloads or more far-reaching business drew hundreds of people before the king’s justices. A few concrete examples can serve to illustrate the magnitude of the phenomenon. The activity associated with the hearing of property assizes can be illustrated from the assize records surviving for the county of Huntingdonshire in the period from January 1276 to August 1281. In this roughly five-year period, justices heard assizes on eight occasions, five times in Huntingdon, once in the market town of

25 Parliament Rolls, ed. by Brand, II, 63; Statutes of the Realm, I, 115, 261; The Westminster Chronicle 1381–94, ed. by Leonard C. Hector and Barbara Harvey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 363. 26

Parliament Rolls, ed. by Brand, I, 580.

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St Neots, and twice in places that are not legible because of manuscript damage.27 There is no way to know for certain if these courts comprised all of the assize business conducted in the period, but the coverage seems fairly extensive, if not complete. On these eight occasions, the justices took a total of thirty-four jury verdicts, requiring the services of some 408 jurors, assuming that twelve jurors served on each case. On two occasions, the justices heard eight verdicts in one session, requiring the attendance of nearly a hundred people from the county on the day of the assizes, not counting the bailiffs and other administrative staff who were also required to be present. Attendance at gaol deliveries tended to be higher than at property assizes, because ordinarily more cases were heard in a single gaol delivery than in a single property assize court. Ralph Pugh’s edition of Wiltshire gaol deliveries in the reign of Edward I provides a good example of a well-documented but otherwise fairly typical series of court sessions.28 His edition includes a record of nine deliveries made in Salisbury in the period from May 1275 to March 1280, or almost two deliveries per year. Juries in gaol deliveries were typically drawn from separate hundreds and assigned responsibility for determining all cases related to their hundred. It is therefore more accurate to count the number of hundreds rendering verdicts in each delivery than to count the total number of cases determined by jury verdict. Thus, in May 1275, jury verdicts were rendered in fourteen cases, but only nine hundreds were implicated in the decisions. In this example, it is fairly certain that the fourteen cases were handled by nine juries and consequently that 108 jurors were required to attend the session rather than 168. In the nine Wiltshire deliveries conducted in the sample period, the number of hundreds delivering jury verdicts ranged from one to twenty-four per assize session, requiring the presence of only twelve jurors at the bottom end of the scale, but of some 288 jurors at the upper end. Averages can be misleading with such a small sample, but it is worth knowing that the justices took verdicts from an average of about ten hundreds per session. Thus an average gaol delivery in Wiltshire in the 1270s required the attendance of about 120 jurors. Attendance at peace sessions was often higher still. As in gaol deliveries, the juries active in peace sessions were organized on the basis of hundreds, but Keepers and Justices of the Peace required representation from every hundred at their 27 The National Archives: Public Record Office (Kew, London; hereafter TNA: PRO), JUST1/1228, 1237, 1241, 1244. 28

Wiltshire Gaol Delivery and Trailbaston Trials 1275–1306, ed. by Ralph B. Pugh, Wiltshire Record Society, 33 (Devizes: Wiltshire Record Society, 1978).

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sessions; there were no hundreds whose services were not required, as was often true in gaol deliveries. Many surviving peace session records actually list the names of all of the jurors who served at a particular session or in a series of peace sessions, allowing for some definitive statements about attendance. Thus the record of a peace session held in Northampton on 20 August 1314 lists the names of jurors for twenty-two presenting districts in the county, comprising nineteen hundreds, two vills, and the borough of Northampton.29 The list also includes a jury of triers, a body of socially elevated jurors constituted for the entire county and charged with reviewing and supplementing the presentments of the hundred juries. All told, 288 jurors congregated in the county town. When the hundred bailiffs, who are named at the head of each juror list, are added to the attendees, the number exceeds three hundred. Comparable numbers can be found in other counties. In the case of Kent, 505 jurors are named as members of the presentment juries empanelled for a series of peace sessions convened in 1316 and 1317.30 More than seven hundred jurors are named in a roll recording a series of six peace sessions convened in Bedford between September 1356 and October 1358.31 Assessing attendance is, however, complicated by many uncertainties about how the courts operated in practice. It is fairly clear, for example, that attendance by jurors often fell below the level anticipated by justices and court administrators. Many jurors simply failed to appear after they had been summoned.32 This happened at the level of individual jurors, as well as at the level of entire juries. Anyone who reads court records from the period quickly becomes familiar with postponements of cases caused by a lack of jurors. The problem was not as severe in the itinerant royal courts as it was in the central courts in Westminster, but it was nonetheless common. Justices frequently sought to correct the problem by drafting jurors on the spot (known as talesmen) from among bystanders or people with other business in the court to bring juries up to the desired number of twelve.33

29

Rolls of Northamptonshire Sessions of the Peace, ed. by Marguerite Gollancz, Northamptonshire Record Society, 11 (Kettering: Northamptonshire Record Society, 1940), pp. 1–7. 30

Kent Keepers of the Peace, ed. by Putnam, p. xxx.

31

Proceedings Before the Justices of the Peace, ed. by Putnam, p. 58.

32

James Masschaele, Jury, State, and Society in Medieval England (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 98. 33

J. B. Post, ‘Jury Lists and Juries in the Late Fourteenth Century’, in Twelve Good Men and True: The Criminal Trial Jury in England, 1200–1800, ed. by John S. Cockburn and Thomas A. Green (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 65–77.

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They sometimes also made up a jury by combining two hundreds into a single pool and giving it responsibility for representing both hundreds.34 Attendance was also related to the number of venues used to conduct court sessions. In most counties, judicial business was concentrated in the county town and one or two other towns, but some counties had a more dispersed pattern of courts. In Shropshire, for example, assize courts were frequently convened in four different locations (Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Ludford, and Bridgenorth) with only a modest preference for the county town.35 There were often valid historical or administrative reasons behind dispersion, but some justices designated venues simply for their own convenience, preferring locations that were close to a personal estate, for example.36 The level of dispersion also varied according to the type of judicial business being conducted. Gaol deliveries tended to be the most concentrated venues because of their close association with the county gaols. Peace sessions, on the other hand, tended to be more dispersed. Even in more dispersed counties, however, courts were still typically held in towns and required people from the surrounding countryside to travel to a town to transact their business and fulfil their court-ordered responsibilities. The forces limiting the size of the gatherings associated with itinerant justice were, however, offset by other forces tending in the opposite direction. Jury panels were frequently larger than the minimum number of jurors required to determine a case.37 The use of alternate jurors was built into the system to ensure that trials could still be held when a regular jury member failed to attend or was challenged by one of the litigants. Jury panels typically consisted of between sixteen and twenty-four members; the latter number was formally stipulated in many of the writs issued by itinerant justices ordering sheriffs to have juries available at an upcoming court session.38 All individuals included on the panel, and not just the 34

E.g. A Cambridgeshire Gaol Delivery Roll, 1332–1334, ed. by Elisabeth G. Kimball, Cambridge Antiquarian Records Society, 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge Antiquarian Records Society, 1978), pp. 32, 33, 35–36. 35

Taylor, ‘Justices of Assize’, p. 255.

36

A parliamentary petition of 1382, for example, notes that itinerant justices sometimes chose locations based on their own personal convenience. The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1377–1384, vol. VI: Richard II, 1377–1384, ed. by Geoffrey Martin and Chris Given-Wilson (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), p. 294. 37 38

Masschaele, Jury, State, and Society, pp. 96–97.

E.g. Rolls of Northamptonshire Sessions of the Peace, ed. by Gollancz, p. 82; The 1341 Royal Inquest in Lincolnshire, ed. by Bernard W. McLane, Lincoln Record Society, 78 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1988), p. 1.

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twelve who delivered the verdict, were expected to attend the trial. Alternate jurors who failed to attend the court session were fined. This did not guarantee that all jurors on the panel would be present. But even though alternate jurors often failed to attend, it seems likely that many did answer their summons, and hence that the numbers presented above are well below the actual numbers in attendance. Another important consideration is that jurors were frequently not the only people to be called before itinerant justices. In both gaol deliveries and sessions of the peace, individual vills were formally required to send representatives to the court to provide evidence and to supplement jury verdicts.39 Thus in 1241, two Leicestershire men were acquitted of murder by a jury of twelve working in conjunction with men from four nearby vills.40 Similarly, in a gaol delivery conducted in Huntingdonshire in 1294, William of Blyth of St Ives was convicted of murder by a verdict delivered by the jurors ‘together with the neighboring vills’.41 A wapentake in Nottinghamshire made a formal complaint to the king about an official who fined vills that failed to send representatives to gaol delivery sessions, noting that traditionally vills were required to send representatives only when they had prisoners involved in the delivery.42 The obligations and responsibilities of these local representatives are formally stipulated in the early twelfth-century compilation known as Leges Henrici Primi and can also be found in the Assize of Clarendon (1164).43 Throughout the period covered here, the writs that went out to sheriffs ordering them to prepare for an upcoming court session typically included a clause stipulating that they should be sure to have the local representatives available when the justices arrived to hold the court.44

39

Frederick Pollock and Frederic W. Maitland, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I, 2nd edn, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1898), I, 610–11. 40 Curia Regis Rolls of the Reign of Henry III, vol. XVI: 1237–1242, ed. by Leonard C. Hector (London: HMSO, 1979), p. 264, no. 1403. 41

TNA: PRO, JUST 3/93.

42

Rotuli Hundredorum, ed. by William Illingworth and John Caley, 2 vols (London: Record Commission, 1812–18), II, 306. 43

Leges Henrici Primi, ed. by L. J. Downer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), pp. 100–01, nos 7, 8; Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 170. 44

E.g. TNA: PRO, JUST 3/23/5 m.4; JUST 3/23/8, m.4; JUST 3/25/1 m.2; Early Treatises on the Practice of the Justices of the Peace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, ed. by Bertha H. Putnam (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924); Oxford Studies in Social and Legal History, ed. by Paul Vinogradoff, vol. VII (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1924), pp. 271–72.

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Like the jurors, these local representatives were liable to be fined if they failed to attend, and such fines can be commonly found among the gaol delivery records. Edward Powell has suggested that local constables often took the place of the reeve and four men, but John Bellamy has recently argued that the system was still operating in the fifteenth century and indeed comprised an essential part of criminal trials.45 Concrete references to the reeve and four men as active court participants can certainly be found in the fourteenth century, well after the office of constable was formally established in the Statute of Winchester of 1285.46 In the eyre held in Northamptonshire in 1334, for example, the justices made provision for the vill representatives to have free lodging in the town while their services were required in court.47 Similarly, their involvement in court proceedings is specifically mentioned in a number of indictments made in peace sessions held in Lincolnshire in the 1370s.48 The Lincolnshire indictments suggest that while constables did sometimes serve as surrogates for the reeve and four men, they were generally not the preferred form of local representation. Constables are, in short, better seen as supplementing rather than replacing the required attendance of the reeve and four men. When all of these factors are taken together, it seems on balance that estimates of court attendance based on the assumption that each case would have brought twelve men to the assize location are likely to be too low rather than too high. Such an assumption might be tenable in the case of the property assizes, where the attendance of alternate jurors is the only major adjustment needed to arrive at a meaningful estimate. In the case of gaol deliveries and peace sessions, however, the requirement that vills have representation calls for a substantial upward revision. If one assumed that sheriffs actually did summon twenty-four jurors from each hundred as well as a reeve and four men from each vill in which a felony occurred, and if one also assumed that all of these people actually showed up, then the figures offered above with respect to Wiltshire in the 1270s would have to be greatly increased. On 17 September 1276, for example, the Wiltshire justices took verdicts

45

Edward Powell, ‘Jury Trial at Gaol Delivery in the Late Middle Ages: The Midland Circuit, 1400–1429’, in Twelve Good Men and True, ed. by Cockburn and Green, pp. 78–116 (pp. 110–11); John G. Bellamy, The Criminal Trial in Later Medieval England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), pp. 104–05. 46

Statutes of the Realm, I, 98.

47

The Eyre of Northamptonshire, 3–4 Edward III, A .D . 1329–1330, ed. by Donald W. Sutherland, 2 vols, Selden Society, 97–98 (London: Selden Society, 1983), I, 33. 48

Records of Some Sessions of the Peace in Lincolnshire 1360–1375, ed. by Rosamund Sillem, Lincoln Record Society, 30 (Lincoln: Lincoln Record Society, 1936), p. xxxvi.

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in twenty-eight cases involving twenty-four hundreds. If each hundred supplied the full complement of twenty-four jurors and each case made use of five local representatives, then 716 people would have had to trek to Salisbury to participate in the delivery. These assumptions are not realistic, but if one takes the more defensible position that the vills were represented as mandated but that the hundreds were represented by fourteen or fifteen jurors rather than twenty-four, then one could still entertain the possibility that somewhere around five hundred people were involved in the busiest gaol delivery documented in Wiltshire in the 1270s. It would be foolish to argue for precise numbers when there are so many uncertainties about the real working practices of the itinerant courts. But it would be equally problematic to pretend that the uncertainties preclude general estimates or any statements about an order of magnitude. Recognizing the limitations of the evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that the itinerant royal courts (excluding the eyres) routinely drew more than a hundred people into the towns in which they were convened and sometimes drew up to five hundred people. Judicial gatherings of two hundred or more people were probably not uncommon. Indeed, when one makes allowance for the attendance of pledges, mainpernors, family, and friends of the people whose fortunes were being determined before the king’s justices, and also for spectators, who are rarely described but who should not therefore be written out of the story, an estimated attendance of a few hundred people at a session of an itinerant royal court seems eminently reasonable.

III Public gatherings of this size were good for business. Victuallers and ale-sellers happily catered to the people who streamed into the town from surrounding areas, and stable-keepers and blacksmiths must have done the same for their horses. Business would also have been brisk at inns and hostels, since many court participants would have had difficulty completing their travels and their court business in a single day. Many people no doubt took the opportunity of spending time in town to do a little shopping, perhaps picking up a few yards of cloth or a new pair of gloves. Mingling with shopkeepers and local merchants would also have furnished opportunities to find out about current prices and discuss the state of the crops. Farming communities the world over have used such get-togethers to gather information about market conditions. Surviving sources have little to say about the personal transactions and interactions that accompanied court gatherings, but they do convey a good sense of how

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broader corporate interests were affected by the selection of towns to serve as judicial hubs. Several petitions in parliament address the issue of convenience for people who had to travel to a town to participate in an itinerant court.49 In 1392, King Richard II ordered itinerant justices in Wiltshire to hold their sessions in Salisbury, specifically because it was the easiest town for people to reach.50 The timing of sessions could be as much of a concern as the location, as a petition from the commons of Cornwall in 1315 attests.51 The petition notes that justices sometimes held their sessions in August and during Lent, when people were especially busy earning their livelihoods, and asked the king to work out a better schedule. Towns jealously guarded their right to serve as venues for royal courts and sometimes sought to sway the king to give them preferential treatment. The leaders of Derby, for example, were required to defend their right to hold assizes in a quo warranto enquiry in the early 1330s.52 They claimed that their privilege dated back to the reign of Henry III who granted them a gaol and the right to host the king’s justices ‘for the improvement of his borough of Derby and at the request and for the benefit of the entire county community’. In 1380, the town again found itself fighting to protect its privileges as an assize town. Assize justices had sometimes chosen to hold their sessions in Sawley, a small town situated in the extreme southeastern part of the county, and hence more accessible to justices travelling from the south-east. In a parliamentary petition seeking to prevent this practice in future, Derby’s burgesses contrasted Sawley, a poor town in which fodder and victuals were not readily available, with their own town, ‘the best town of the county’, and reminded the king that the benefits and profits of holding the assizes helped the town to pay its annual farm to the king.53 A particularly interesting trail of documents relating to Berkshire similarly illustrates some of the economic consequences associated with such large gatherings. Berkshire was one of the handful of counties that did not have a principal county

49

E.g. The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1307–1327, vol. III: Edward II, 1307–1327, ed. by Seymour Phillips (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), p. 397; The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1385–1397, vol. VII: Richard II, 1385–1397, ed. by Chris Given-Wilson (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005), p. 72. 50 Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II, vol. V : 1392–1396, ed. by H. C. Maxwell Lyte (London: HMSO, 1925), pp. 29–30. 51

Parliament Rolls, vol. III, ed. by Phillips, pp. 100–01.

52

Placita de Quo Warranto, ed. by William Illingworth and John Caley (London: Record Commission, 1818), p. 159. 53

Parliament Rolls, vol. VI, ed. by Martin and Given-Wilson, p. 203.

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town, and consequently its court sessions were relatively dispersed by the standards of most other counties. The choice of venue for the county prison and the associated gaol delivery sessions proved to be a particular bone of contention. For most of the thirteenth century the sheriff used Wallingford as the primary county gaol, and most deliveries were held there. In 1277, however, Edward I decided to augment the standing of Windsor, granting it a gild merchant and stipulating in the same charter that the town was to become the chief gaol of the county and the site of future deliveries.54 In 1315, though, the commons of the county presented a petition to parliament, criticizing Windsor’s role as county gaol.55 In the petition, the commons noted that Windsor was located at an extreme end of the county, which made travel there a great burden for many of the people required to attend. Furthermore, they noted that the town was unable to handle the influx of people who did come, because it lacked sufficient food supplies. The King appointed a commission to investigate their grievances.56 The commission’s findings do not survive, but Reading had become the main county gaol by the 1330s. Reading, though, ran into problems of its own. In 1338 the Abbot of Reading secured a charter from the king granting his abbey cognizance of all pleas within the town.57 The abbots used this charter to exclude the king’s assize justices. Three years later, the town found itself unable to pay its customary tax assessment and was visited by royal officials as part of the Nonae Inquest of 1341.58 Defending its reduced contribution to the king’s coffers, the leaders of the town cited the charter granted to the abbey. Previously, they said, the whole county had frequently gathered in the town for the sessions of the king’s justices. At these gatherings, merchants and victuallers were able to sell all of their goods. Now, because of the charter, the abbot refused to allow the justices to hold their sessions in the town, and people no longer came. As a result, the merchants and victuallers now sell their goods only rarely and in small amounts and have grown so impoverished that many have abandoned the town and many have died in poverty. Clearly their explanation needs to be taken 54

Calendar of the Charter Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, ed. by H. C. Maxwell Lyte, Charles G. Krump, R. D. Trimmer, Alfred E. Stamp, and W. R . Cunningham, 6 vols (London: HMSO, 1903–27), vol. II: 1257–1300, p. 203. 55

Parliament Rolls, vol. III, ed. by Phillips, pp. 79–80.

56

Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward II, vol. II: 1313–1317 (London: HMSO, 1898), pp. 328–29. 57 58

Calendar of the Charter Rolls, vol. IV : 1327–1341, pp. 448–49.

Nonarum Inquisitiones in Curia Scaccarii, ed. by George Vanderzee (London: Record Commission, 1807), p. 10.

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with a grain of salt, but there must also be some truth in what they said. At the very least, their explanation had to seem credible to the king’s officials enquiring into the tax shortfall. That the loss of assize business could be a major economic problem for a town had to be conceptually possible in 1341, whether or not it really was the cause of Reading’s woes. The problems reported by Derby and Reading are consistent with the argument advanced throughout this paper that itinerant royal courts regularly drew significant numbers of people from the countryside into town. In addition to their importance in the development of the kingdom’s legal system, the itinerant courts also made important contributions to the kingdom’s social and economic life. It is, perhaps, no longer necessary to emphasize that medieval people lived in a world of considerable mobility with horizons that could extend to entire counties and even further afield. The court system did not create this more expansive life, but it certainly contributed to it. By bringing together hundreds of people several times each year, assizes, gaol deliveries, and peace sessions expanded the horizons of both the inhabitants of towns and the inhabitants of the countryside. There is still much to learn about how this interaction worked in practice, but enough is currently visible to treat it as part of the ‘profound changes’ Christopher Dyer has ascribed to the period between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, changes that transformed the relationship between ‘state and subject, agriculture and industry, [and] the public and private spheres’.59

59

Christopher Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 43.

T RESPASS L ITIGATION IN THE M ANOR C OURT IN THE L ATE T HIRTEENTH AND E ARLY F OURTEENTH C ENTURIES Phillipp R . Schofield

H

istorians of medieval rural society writing in the last quarter century have been keen to stress the commercial aspects of that society, with marketled exchange seen as an important index of social and economic interaction.1 The employment of law, as a means of adding security to economic dealings, both at the local level and in the regional and central courts, and of protecting the interests of the individual in a commercialized context, is one potentially significant facet of this commercialization. This close association of centre and periphery has also added to our growing sense of a community of the realm which extended beyond the narrow boundaries of high politics and which was capable of being absorbed into local politics; in that sense, through an application of law and legal

I am grateful to Dr Chris Briggs and the volume editors for their comments on an earlier version of this chapter, which was also given as a paper at the British Agricultural History Society conference, Hereford, April 2007. I am grateful also for the comments of those attending the conference. 1

For key contributions to this development, see especially the work of Christopher Dyer: Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c.1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; rev. edn 1998); ‘The Consumer and the Market in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 42 (1989), 305–27, reprinted in Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994), pp. 257–81; An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 126–72; of central importance is Richard H. Britnell, The Commercialisation of English Society, 1000–1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993; repr. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996).

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process, we also anticipate a ‘political’ community at the level of the village in this period.2 In the present study an attempt will be made to consider the ways in which one aspect of civil action in the manor court, trespass, an issue highly relevant to issues of exchange and of economic and social interaction at the level of the village, manor, and its region, may have developed. It will also allow us, in passing, to consider the changing nature of the record as well as the degree of proximity between local seigneurial jurisdiction and other court structures, both common law and ecclesiastical, in England in the first century for which manorial court rolls survive.3 The common law of trespass, its development in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, has been sketched out by more than one legal historian.4 It was during the reign of Henry III, in the middle years of the thirteenth century, that an action in trespass took recognizable form.5 Maitland notes references earlier than the reign of Henry III, and his observations are given added substance by Richardson and Sayles, who point to late twelfth- and early thirteenth-century examples of

2

See Christopher Dyer, ‘Memories of Freedom: Attitudes Towards Serfdom in England, 1200–1350’, in Serfdom and Slavery: Studies in Legal Bondage, ed. by Michael L. Bush (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 277–95. See also John R. Maddicott, ‘The County Community and the Making of Public Opinion in Fourteenth Century England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 28 (1978), 27–43; Maddicott, ‘Magna Carta and the Local Community’, Past and Present, 101 (1984), 25–65; Zvi Razi and Richard M. Smith, ‘The Origins of the English Manorial Court Rolls as a Written Record: A Puzzle’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Zvi Razi and Richard Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 36–68. 3

This chapter is partly the product of an ongoing project on ‘Private Law and Medieval Village Society: Personal Actions in Manor Courts, c. 1250–c. 1350’, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/D502713/1), headed by Professor Richard Smith (Cambridge) along with Dr Chris Briggs (Cambridge), Dr Matthew Tompkins (Aberystwyth), and the author. 4

See especially Stroud F. C. Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, in Milsom, Studies in the History of the Common Law (London: Hambledon, 1985), pp. 1–90 (from which subsequent references are taken; first published in Law Quarterly Review, 74 (1958), pp. 195–224, 407–36, 561–90). See also Select Cases of Procedure without Writ under Henry III, ed. by Henry G. Richardson and George O. Sayles, Selden Society, 60 (London: Selden Society, 1941), pp. cviii–cxxxiv; George E. Woodbine, ‘The Origins of the Action of Trespass [I]’, Yale Law Journal, 33 (1923–24), 799–816; Woodbine, ‘The Origins of the Action of Trespass [II]’, Yale Law Journal, 34 (1924–25), 343–70; John H. Baker, An Introduction to Legal History, 3rd edn (London: Butterworth, 1990), pp. 71–75; Select Cases of Trespass from the King’s Courts, 1307–1399, ed. by M. S. Arnold, 2 vols, Selden Society, 100 (London: Selden Society, 1984), I, pp. ix–x. 5

Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, pp. cxiii–civ.

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placitum transgressionis.6 In pleas involving assault with force and arms against the peace, vi et armis contra pacem, it was not however ‘until towards the end of the reign of Henry III [that] they seem to be approaching settled usage’.7 Milsom makes the further suggestion that it was, in fact, subsequent to the Statute of Gloucester of 1278 that actions emphasizing the issue of breach of peace became especially prevalent, an unintended consequence of a policy aimed at reducing trespass cases in the king’s court but which, by setting a jurisdictional limit, had the opposite consequence.8 Palmer makes a similar point in identifying a transformation of countylevel legal process in the first years of the reign of Edward I.9 Thus, a writ of trespass at common law, initiating an action in trespass for battery, includes the formula that the defendant, with force and arms against the king’s peace, abused, wounded, and badly treated the plaintiff to his great damage and contrary to the peace.10 Where the defendant denies the claim, he or she denies the force and tort, vim et iniuriam ubi et quando. The wording of the action continued to be modified in the later Middle Ages, especially with the removal of the need for the matter to involve an action vi et armis by c. 1367 and the development of trespass on the case.11 There are certain basic elements to this story which it would be useful to rehearse very briefly before turning to trespass in the manor court. Firstly, in its early history, that is in the twelfth and early thirteenth century, trespass was a category not entirely to be separated from felony, including, for instance, such violent assault as rape, but one that became more distinctly a civil action during this period.12

6

Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seigniorial Courts, ed. by Frederic W. Maitland, Selden Society, 2 (London: B. Quaritch, 1889), p. lvi; Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, p. cxiii, n. 1. 7

Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, p. cxxvii.

8

Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, p. 30.

9

Robert C. Palmer, The County Courts of Medieval England, 1150–1350 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 298, points also discussed in Paul Hyams, ‘What Did Edwardian Villagers Understand by Law?’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Razi and Smith, pp. 69–102 (p. 87). 10 ‘vi et armis et contra pacem Regis insultum fecit et verberavit, vulneravit et male tractavit ad grave dampnum suum et contra pacem nostram’, as, for instance, Baker, Introduction to Legal History, p. 618. See also Woodbine, ‘Origins of the Action of Trespass [II]’, p. 358. 11

Baker, Introduction to Legal History, pp. 72–73; Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 13, 27, 28, 68. 12

On felony and trespass, see Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, p. cxxv; also The Roll of the Shropshire Eyre of 1256, ed. by Alan Harding, Selden Society, 96 (London: Selden Society, 1981).

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Secondly, trespass was brought as an action intended to punish the wrong and not to serve as remedy for the right; trespass writs did not appear in common law as praecipe writs, commanding that an action hitherto left undone be now performed, but instead were intended to reveal why, ostensurus quare, an act was carried out.13 This does not mean, however, that they did not provide a remedy for the plaintiff; that remedy existed, though, not in performance but in damages.14 Thirdly, the proof of the matter was typically examined by an inquest jury and ‘older’ modes of proof, especially witness proof or compurgation, tended not to apply in trespass cases. Fourthly, and lastly, trespass was a broad concept capable of admitting a range of actions. In essence, and as already noted, trespass was considered a wrong done to the individual. This was typically considered in relation to the forced and violent entry into land, but, within that, there was considerable scope.15 An analysis of plaints in the king’s court in the reign of Henry III which were initiated ‘without writ’ reveals a range of types of trespass case.16 Trespass under writ in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries also exhibits this same range and diversity.17 Having set out what appear to be the main conclusions drawn from observation of the development of trespass at common law, we can turn to trespass in the manor court. The investigation of trespass in the manor court offered here is intended to add to work underway on the interpretation of the manor court as a legal forum and its rolls as records of, if not necessarily substantive law, then at least legal process. While the earliest work on manor court rolls approached their study very much in these terms, the greater part of the investigation of manor court rolls in the twentieth century was in support of social and economic history.18 That said, in the last quarter

13

Baker, Introduction to Legal History, pp. 71–72, and, for examples, see pp. 614–16, 618–22.

14

See, for instance, Woodbine, ‘Origins of the Action of Trespass [I]’, p. 802.

15

Woodbine, ‘Origins of the Action of Trespass [II]’, p. 358; Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 2–3. 16

Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, pp. ccvi–ccix.

17

Milsom’s discussion of general writs in trespass distinguishes between trespass cases which involved wrongs to land, wrongs to the person, and wrongs to goods, with, again, a significant range of case types and more particular issues likely to arise under each broad heading, Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 1–30. See also Baker, Introduction to Legal History, pp. 73–74, on the later development and trespass on the case. 18

See Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seigniorial Courts, ed. by Maitland, for the first and most significant instance of that earlier approach; as Helmholz noted in 1985, ‘in the more than eighty years which have passed since Maitland wrote [. . .] little attention has been paid to the substantive law enforced in local courts’: Select Cases on Defamation to 1600, ed. by Richard H. Helmholz, Selden Society, 101 (London: Selden Society, 1985), p. xlviii.

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century, there has been something of a ‘return to Maitland’, with a growing interest in the nature of law in the manor court, the process of law in the manor court, and its employment by peasant litigants.19 The study of law, process, and litigation in the manor court has been the product of more than one agenda, including a desire to develop, increasingly, an engagement with the source and an attempt to address a series of questions relevant to the study of medieval law and medieval society. Significant amongst these questions have been those which have explored the development of law in the manor court as an index of both an appetite for law in rural society in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century England and of the context in which legal fora, such as manorial courts, were allowed and encouraged to develop. In what follows an attempt will be made to describe some features of the development of trespass in the manor court and, in the context of what is known about the development of the action in trespass at common law, consider the relevance of these findings for our understanding of (1) the association of private, seigneurial courts and the king’s court in this period, (2) the nature of the relationship between these courts, that is, was it subtle or rather less nuanced, and (3) the ‘take-up’ of law by peasant litigants.

Trespass in the Manor Court and at Common Law Our earliest manorial courts survive from the middle years of the thirteenth century and do not appear in substantial number before the 1270s.20 That said, there

19

For examples of the most relevant work, see Lloyd Bonfield, ‘The Nature of Customary Law in the Manor Courts of Medieval England’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 31 (1989), 514–34; Bonfield, ‘What Did Edwardian Villagers Mean by “Customary Law”?’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Razi and Smith, pp. 103–16; John S. Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation and Institutional Change in Medieval English Manorial Courts’, Law and History Review, 10 (1992), 198–252; Beckerman, ‘Toward a Theory of Medieval Manorial Adjudication: The Nature of Communal Judgements in a System of Customary Law’, Law and History Review, 13 (1995), 1–22; Christopher D. Briggs, ‘Manor Court Procedures, Debt Litigation Levels, and Rural Credit Provision in England, c. 1290–c. 1380’, Law and History Review, 24 (2006), 519–58; Hyams, ‘What Did Edwardian Villagers Understand by Law?’, pp. 69–102; Razi and Smith, ‘Origins of the English Manorial Court Rolls’; Phillipp R. Schofield, ‘Peasants and the Manor Court: Gossip and Litigation in a Suffolk Village at the Close of the Thirteenth Century’, Past and Present, 159 (1998), 3–42; Schofield, ‘Peasant Debt in English Manorial Courts: Form and Nature’, in La Dette et le juge: juridiction gracieuse et juridiction contentieuse du XIIIe au XIV e siècle (France, Italie, Espagne, Angleterre, Empire), ed. by Julie Claustre (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2006), pp. 55–67; Richard M. Smith, ‘Some Thoughts on “Hereditary” and “Proprietary” Rights in Land Under Customary Law in Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Century England’, Law and History Review, 1 (1983), 95–128. 20

Razi and Smith, ‘Origins of the English Manorial Court Rolls’, pp. 40–42.

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are a number of good series of manorial courts beginning in the 1250s and 1260s which present us with an opportunity to chart the development of trespass litigation in these private seigneurial jurisdictions and to compare its development with common law developments already described. We might, in particular, look for a hardening in the formulation of trespass cases in these courts in the 1270s and 1280s in a manner seemingly to be found in the king’s courts. In fact, Razi and Smith consider it likely ‘that during the 1270s and 1280s the number of manor courts which were brought in line with the development of royal courts increased considerably and so did the survival rate of court roll series’.21 They suggest some possible areas in which this close association might have manifested itself in the process and business of the manor court, but they have nothing to say, in a brief foray, about forms of action.22 It has been suggested that the phrasing of trespass litigation in the manor court, at least in relation to the pleading of damages, did not follow a chronology wholly consistent with the development of trespass in the king’s courts at common law. Richardson and Sayles suggest that the university-trained clerks, who would have been responsible for recording the business of the manor court, learned their law through Roman law books on procedure and substantive law. The tracts employed for training include precedents for pleading in actions of trespass which, according to Richardson and Sayles, may have influenced the style and substance of entries in the manor court, perhaps to a degree that they did not in the king’s court. That said, Richardson and Sayles do not look to over-emphasize any distinction, and the general sense is that, as in the king’s courts, the form of trespass actions developed in line with that found at common law.23 The first and obvious point is that, in late thirteenth-century courts, there are clear examples of trespass cases entirely consistent with the language and structure of trespass actions at common law.24 The earliest courts, from the estates of the 21

Razi and Smith, ‘Origins of the English Manorial Court Rolls’, p. 49.

22

Razi and Smith, ‘Origins of the English Manorial Court Rolls’, pp. 50–56.

23

Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, pp. cxiii–cxiv; Woodbine, ‘Origins of the Action of Trespass [I]’, pp. 800–01: ‘Not only is there no evidence to show that there was any action of trespass in the local courts before it became an action in the king’s court, or that it came from the former to the latter, but such evidence that we have points directly the other way.’ For a very interesting observation suggesting some movement in the other direction, and in the particular context of unjust deforcement and detention, see Roll of the Shropshire Eyre, ed. by Harding, p. lvi. 24

See, for instance, Bernard v. Huge and Petra, court of 19 August 1278, Heacham (Norfolk), Norfolk Record Office (hereafter NRO), Le Strange DA 1.

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Abbey of Bec in the 1240s, also make it clear that the concept of trespass was applied in these courts, even if the structure of the action was far from established.25 There is also some indication, insofar as it is possible to trace these developments in the earliest series of manorial court rolls, that an action in trespass developed its form fairly speedily by the second decade of the fourteenth century. At Hinderclay, Suffolk, the court roll series for which begins in the late 1250s and exists in broken series for the second half of the thirteenth century, there are fairly early references to actions in trespass, but detailed pleas following a common law formula are not evident until the last decade of the thirteenth century.26 Similarly, the earliest rolls for Halesowen, from the end of the reign of Henry III and the first years of Edward I, contain only oblique references to action in trespass.27 In the rolls from Cuxham (Oxon.) there is little or nothing evident in the way of action in trespass in the thirteenth-century rolls, but detailed actions appear in the early fourteenth century.28 The earliest actions in trespass in manor courts illustrate the same development of language which has also been observed at common law. To take the early Wakefield court rolls as an example, while entries employing a standard formula of vi et armis are evident by the early fourteenth century, earlier entries of a kind consistent with trespass do not suggest the same consistencies.29 In the earliest of the Wakefield rolls, from 1274, we find quite detailed entries which describe trespass in a variety of forms, some of which mirror the subtle distinctions of contemporary

25 Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seigniorial Courts, pp. 9–10, for instances of trespass at Ogbourne against an individual’s livestock (a peacock and a mare). 26

The earliest rolls contain amercements with reference to trespass: Hinderclay, court of 24 December 1257, ‘iiid. De Johanne Kyng pro transgressione facta Gilberto Holisent’. University of Chicago, Joseph Regenstein Library, Bacon MS 114, m. 1. A decade or more later the detail of the trespass is fuller, but the common law language of trespass is yet to make an evident appearance: see, for instance, Becles v. Wodeward, Hinderclay, court of 24 August 1272, a case relating to a false claim of excommunication: Bacon MS 114A, m. 2. For discussion of some of the more detailed trespass litigation at Hinderclay in the 1290s and 1300s, see Schofield, ‘Peasants and the Manor Court’. 27

See, for instance, Halesowen, court of 17 December 1275, for list of essoins de transgressione, Worcestershire Record Office, 346204 r sk 3. 28

Manorial Records of Cuxham, Oxfordshire, circa 1200–1359, ed. by Paul D. A. Harvey, Oxfordshire Record Society, 50 (London: HMSO, 1976), pp. 639–40. 29

For early fourteenth-century cases employing vi et armis, see Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. IV : 1315 to 1317, ed. by John Lister, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 78 (Wakefield: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1930), p. 94.

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common law actions in trespass.30 If we can make any observation about the adoption of common law trespass in the manor court, in terms of basic chronology and the development of the standard language of the action, it would be to observe that, in some manor courts but not all, the form of litigation in trespass may have lagged behind by some years the hardening of the action in the king’s courts, notwithstanding the variety which might also be employed there.31 There is some indication, which would stand a good deal of further testing, that it is often only in the second decade of the fourteenth century that a number of manorial courts appear to ‘catch up’.32

The Nature of Trespass in the Manor Court and at Common Law There are a number of potentially significant observations we can make in attempting to set out the subtle association between common law actions in trespass and trespass in the manor court. For the greater part these direct us beyond the formulae of trespass to a consideration of the nature of the law itself, either in its application or, very occasionally, in pleading or judgement that encourages a contemporary reflection on the substance of the law offered in the court. We can begin, though, by suggesting that the very application of the common law formula of trespass, in the form that we not infrequently find it in the manor court rolls, is, of itself, indication of a potentially weak substantive base to the law 30

Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. I: 1274 to 1297, ed. by W. P. Baildon, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 29 (Wakefield: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1900), p. 9, where a case of seizure of goods, of abuse with contumelious words, and of head-breaking was described as contra pacem, vi et iniuste; for similar instances at common law, but chiefly from the early years of the reign of Henry III, see Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, p. cxxvii. For a similarly ‘irregular’ entry in the manor court, see, for example, Nuncius v. Sapling, court of 2 December 1289, Heacham (Norfolk), ‘vbi putauit fuisse in pace etc in domo sua [. . .] ibi venit dictus Ricardus & eum iniuste assultauit cum uno cultello unde multum timebatur [. . .] ad dampnum suum C. solidos’. NRO, Le Strange DA 2. The instance also suggests a concept of injury (iniuria), relevant to Roman law, for which see also Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, p. cxxxii; Select Cases on Defamation to 1600, ed. by Helmholz, pp. li–liv. On the issue of peace and the exaggeration of language as calculation for damages, see John S. Beckerman, ‘Customary Law in English Manorial Courts in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’ (unpublished D.Phil. thesis, University of London, 1972), pp. 191–92. 31 32

Select Cases of Trespass, I, p. x.

This may well be consistent with developments in other aspects of the manorial process and application of law; see, for instance, Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, pp. 217–19, 230–31, 236.

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of trespass in the manor court. In the second half of the twelfth century Glanvill, the legal theorist and Chief Justice, argued that wrongs, trespasses, which might include theft, should only come to the county court through the defect of the justice of the local lord. Within the century, it was to the king’s court that such breaches came, and typically because the plaintiff, in alleging an act contrary to the king’s peace, sought whatever were the perceived benefits of that jurisdiction.33 It might be argued that, given the standard of twelfth-century law, wrongs were not felonies, that is, they were misdemeanours which could be dealt with in local courts. Further, that later thirteenth-century commentators on process rejected the use of terms such as vi et armis and contra pacem Regis in courts other than the king’s courts might also suggest that there was little need for lords and their clerks to ape the formula of the king’s courts in describing trespass cases in terms of actions done with force and arms and contrary to the peace.34 However, even if the application of vi et armis contra pacem might suggest, on occasion, a slavish application of formulae, the reality is that, in the majority of thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century manor courts where we find trespass litigation, trespass as applied in those courts does suggest a more subtle application than this. This is especially evident in that, as in common law in the central courts in the late thirteenth century, not all trespasses were in the form of vi et armis contra pacem but, instead, they admitted a considerable variety. Milsom in his thorough discussion of trespass in the reigns of Henry III and Edward I seeks to dismiss the notion that trespass in the late thirteenth century was ‘a single entity, a definite tort with the essential ingredient of direct forcible injury, and that out of or around this entity there developed, by a process beginning in the late fourteenth century, the mass of actions on the case’.35 He rejects the notion that the ‘wrong’ that was trespass was narrowly defined by the thirteenth century; instead he argues that any limitation was as regards jurisdiction, as already discussed, and not as regards the nature or range of the wrong itself. We have already noted that there was considerable range

33

See, for instance, Stroud F. C. Milsom, Historical Foundations of the Common Law, 2nd edn (London: Butterworths, 1981), pp. 286–87; also, Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 88–89; Beckerman, ‘Customary Law’, pp. 188–93. 34

See for instance Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, p. 76. In that sense, forcible trespass as described in Matching (Essex), may better reflect the nature of the jurisdiction and the formula to be applied in the manor court: Doioun v. Wolrich, Matching (Essex), court of 16 December 1320, ‘venit et insultum fecit [. . .] et ipsam verberavit, wlneravit et male tractauit et brachium /suum\ fregit ad dampnum’. Essex Record Office (hereafter ERO), D/Dew. M 1. 35

Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, p. 1.

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in common law trespass, but it will be useful here to rehearse this point a little more fully and to explore it further in relation to trespass in the manor court. Milsom argues that in the thirteenth century, while writs in trespass at common law did, quite evidently, include those involving direct forcible injury, trespass of different kinds, where there was no forcible injury, also existed and was identified as trespass. As already noted, the variety of forms of common law trespass was, to follow Milsom, considerable. This variety included — as well as forcible wrongs to person, land, or goods — trespass, for example, in relation to the carriage and sale of goods.36 While forcible wrongs are also evidently a significant category in thirteenth-century manorial courts, it seems equally the case that trespass was applied, as Milsom has suggested for the contemporary central courts, to a range of other wrongs, including those which lacked any element of force. We should, of course, expect this for the reason, as already discussed, that trespass which did not threaten the king’s peace was assumed to be a matter for the local courts. Even so, there does appear to be a developing portfolio of trespass cases in the manorial courts akin to what is described for the central courts. In some instances these reflect no more than an extension of the forcible element, but one that, for whatever reason, found itself dealt with in the manor court. At Aldham (Suffolk) in September 1327, in a fight between the servants of two masters, the servants of the one master beat up the servant of the plaintiff, the other master, so that he suffered damage of 12d., an inquest jury agreeing.37 Elsewhere, at Heacham (Norfolk), a public accusation of theft of grain led to a plea of trespass by the husband of the wife who had been publicly accused of the same, the husband arguing that his wife had, as a result, been incapacitated for fifteen days as a consequence of the grief and shame (dolor et pudor) of the incident, so that he lost the benefit of her for that period to his damage of 40d.38 Other such forcible incidents included the killing of a dog, the construction of an illegal ditch, and distraint on goods.39 36

Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 2, 67–71.

37

Yngehosebunde v. Karter and Seriaunt, Aldham (Suffolk), court of 3 March 1327, Cambridge University Library (hereafter CUL), Vanneck MSS Box 1; cf. Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, p. 16. 38

Den v. Hardy, Heacham (Norfolk), court of 31 January 1319, NRO, Le Strange DA 8. Reference to dolor et pudor is consistent with Roman law notions of wrong and an intersection of ecclesiastical and manorial jurisdiction, Select Cases on Defamation, ed. by Helmholz, p. li. See also above, note 30. On shame in manorial court cases, see Beckerman ‘Customary Law’, pp. 200–09. 39

Distraint: East and West Hanningfield (Essex), court of 5 June 1340, ERO, D/DP M 832; illegal hedge and ditch: Aldham (Suffolk), court of 29 May 1334, CUL, Vanneck MSS Box 1; killing of dog: Aldham (Suffolk), court of 3 February 1340, CUL, Vanneck MSS, Box 1.

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If we move away from forcible trespass, we can also find instances of non-forcible trespass. Unsurprisingly and in support of Milsom’s argument, as there is no need to justify their pleading within the jurisdiction, these cases do not maintain the fiction of force and arms. Unjust detention of goods (detinue) and breach of contract, for instance, fell within trespass arising from breach of contract, an example of misfeasance, and examples can again be found in the thirteenth-century and early fourteenth-century manor courts.40 This was an issue that arrived quite late in the central courts, that is in the second half of the fourteenth century when the requirement for trespass cases to include a breach of the king’s peace was dropped from pleas of the Crown. As Baker notes, the development in common law was then a matter of change of jurisdictional boundary rather than a change in substantive law as the association of trespass with breach of contract was already a standard of local courts.41 In many respects, these extensions in the manor court of the standard formulae of common law trespass also confirm the proximity of the association between the two jurisdictions Thus, for instance, trespass arising from the particular case of illegal entry, the breaking open of a chest (quandam cistam ipsius [pl.] ibidem inventam fregit) and the seizure of the goods inside, is a formula repeated almost word for word, but with modification to reflect the jurisdiction, in manorial court entries, Common Pleas, and King’s Bench, in the fourteenth century.42 If we look beyond the range of trespass for additional evidence of a subtle association of trespass at common law and in the manor court, we can consider the 40

See, for example, Wodeward v. Robert son of Adam, Hinderclay (Suffolk), court of 17 July 1298, Bacon MS 117, m. 16; Borel v. Brond, Horsham St Faith (Norfolk), court of 6 October 1314, NRO, NRS 19505 (from microfilm MF RO 49); also ?Hou v. Baule, court of 4 July 1321 (?), Heacham (Norfolk), NRO, Le Strange DA 2. 41

Baker, Introduction to Legal History, pp. 374–76. Unjust detention, or detinue, looks, at face value, an area of some uncertainty in the manor court. The detention of goods which should be returned to their owner by either the main party or by a third party is dealt with in pleas of debt, of unjust detention, and of trespass. See also Roll of the Shropshire Eyre, ed. by Harding, p. lvi. Other examples of misfeasance also found in contemporary manor courts include failure to care for livestock: Tornham v. Grimesby, Heacham (Norfolk), court of 4 January 1280, NRO, Le Strange DA 2; and causing a plaintiff to be sued in a separate jurisdiction: Aylwyn v. Skyleman, Aldham (Suffolk), court of 4 February 1340, CUL, Vanneck MSS Box 1. 42

Manorial court: Stutting v. Burgoyne, West Halton/Burton (Lincs.), court of 16 January 1319, Westminster Abbey Muniments 14546; the plaintiff in the manor court did not plead vi et armis and the offence was contra voluntatem rather than contra pacem or contra pacem Regis. Common Pleas: The National Archives: Public Record Office, CP 40/373 (1353), m. 39, quoted in Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, p. 66. King’s Bench: TNA: PRO, KB 27/242, m. 60, quoted in Select Cases of Trespass, ed. by Arnold, I, 135–39, and especially p. 136.

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nature of both proof and damages in trespass cases. In both instances, there is some implicit evidence that the application of the law and more particularly of process is other than formulaic, but that it is closely linked, in substance as well as in appearance, to developments in common law. To begin with mode of proof, it is quite evident from an examination of extant instances that, in trespass cases in the manor court, unlike in cases of debt, the normal mode of proof was not witness proof or compurgation but inquest jury. The employment of an inquest jury is a well-known feature of action in trespass and is consistent with common law developments of the thirteenth century. Trespass encouraged inquest by jury at common law, it has been suggested, because of the ruling that, should a defendant opt for wager of law as the basis of his proof and then lose, he was liable to the plaintiff for the claim and the plaintiff’s damages which, as we shall see, could be extensive. An inquest was held to be the best way of delivering justice on what might be a complex series of issues and was also considered the most appropriate mode for establishing the extent of the damages to be awarded, an approach that led, by the late thirteenth century, to the development of local regulation to the same effect.43 Occasionally, a different mode of proof was employed, as at Heacham (Norfolk) in 1319 in the example given above, where the issue involved a public defamation and may have encouraged wager of law.44 In fact, to follow Beckerman, who rebuts the suggestion of Maitland that compurgation could not be used in pleas of trespass, it may be that trial by inquest jury was required for those trials which involved forcible trespasses.45 The mode of proof in trespass is, as already noted, closely linked to the issue of damages. An agreement to accept the judgement of an inquest jury avoided the risk for the defendant of having to pay excessive damages. In the manor court damages should, in theory, have not exceeded 40s.; we do find though, from time to time, examples of claims for significantly larger sums in the manor court.46 The relevance

43

Robert L. Henry, Contracts in the Local Courts of Medieval England (London: Longmans, 1926), pp. 101–02. 44 As above, note 38. See also Ate Hogge v. Fulke, East and West Hanningfield (Essex), court of 29 September 1332, ERO, D/DP M 832, where the issue relates to the taking of wheat. 45 46

Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, pp. 207–08, and especially n. 53.

See, for example, Grimgard v. Taylor, Thornbury (Gloucs.), court of 16 May 1346, Staffordshire Record Office, D.641/1/4C/2, 25r, where detention of goods and verbal abuse had, according to the plaintiff, caused damages of 100s. For similar instances of undoubtedly inflated damages, see Schofield, ‘Peasants and the Manor Court’, pp. 4–5, where damages claimed at £100 were subsequently reduced to 10s.

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of such claims, both in their extent and, typically, their reduction by inquest jury suggests again that principles applied at common law were also being followed in local manorial courts from around the same time. It may also be the case that reference to the nature of damage, as, for instance, claims ad dampnum or ad grave dampnum, was an attempt to reflect the increasingly particular language of damages in the central courts.47 Finally, it is also evident, as is the case in other actions, that trespass, if it did not generate its own substantive law within the manor court, reflected, within the pleading and in the defence, some clear indication of the application of substance, as for instance in pleading.48 Beckerman has already described good examples of this, as his discussion of the correct mode of proof which occurred in Boxley, Kent, in 1275 illustrates.49 Other instances, which may not have always gone to a detailed understanding of substance, do, at least, suggest a perspective on law and process. At Mildenhall, Matilda the wife of Edmund de Bayl attacked Robert de Wynte in what is quite clearly a forcible trespass; in court Matilda refused to offer a defence as her husband was not present, but the jurors awarded the claimed amount of damages (40s.) for non-defence.50 At Wakefield in 1297, Roger the Fuller pursued William Scot in a plea of insult and of wounding, the latter act apparently carried out by another ( John Scot) but possibly instigated by the defendant. Since, William argued in his defence, the wound was inflicted by this third party, John, and since there was, by Roger’s own account, only one wound, then, William argued, Robert had cleared William by his words. This is part of an involved series of pleas of trespass involving what appears to have been a full-scale skirmish, and which ended with a number of defendants, including William Scot, either waging their law, refusing to wage their law, or settling out of court.51 47

See, for instance, Select Cases of Procedure without Writ, ed. by Richardson and Sayles, pp. cxv–cxvi; Beckerman, ‘Customary Law’, p. 200. 48

For a discussion of defence in trespass at common law, see Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 78–83. 49

Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, p. 208.

50

Wyntewrich v. Bayl, Mildenhall, court of 14 March 1299. Suffolk Record Office, E18/451/1, m. 4. 51

Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. I, ed. by Baildon, pp. 303, 305; Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. II: 1297–1309, ed. by W. P. Baildon, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 36 (Wakefield: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1906), pp. 1, 4, 10, 15. See also ibid., p. 15, Wymark v. de Bateley, for the argument that the defendant need not answer for two separate offences in the same instance, the plaintiff countering that one offence arose from the other and could be treated together.

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Peasant Litigants and Trespass Of course not all actionable wrongs led to trespass litigation. There are two main points to make here. The first is that a good deal of activity that could have resulted in litigation did not. Small acts of a tortious kind, including nuisance and smallscale violence, either did not attract any kind of record or formal censure or, if they did, were dealt with as presentments, a device employed increasingly in the manor court to penalize wrongdoing but as a record and fine of the same, not as an action between the parties.52 Thus, for example, from the manor court of Canon Pyon (Herefordshire) held on 1 August 1346, there exist a series of amercements for small-scale violence, of a kind that would also feature quite prominently in any number of manorial court rolls.53 On occasion, such presentments could be both detailed and highly suggestive of forcible trespass of a kind more evidently considered an action and one, conceivably, to be dealt with as a felony in the king’s courts. At Birdbrook (Essex) in July 1294, a presentment jury in a view of frankpledge presented that a miller, John Doun, and William, the son of Robert of Bumstede, attacked the wife of Robert de Banleye, struck her with a sword, and broke into the house of the same Robert. Robert raised the hue and cry justly, so that the constable arrested them and took the sword from them and handed it to John atte Park for safe keeping, the court now ordering the sword to be produced for examination. The marginal note is unum gladium, one sword.54 Beckerman, in the fullest discussion of presentment in the manor court to date, has also made the important observation that, while not offering a remedy in damages, presentment did at least allow the wronged to bring the wrongdoing and the wrongdoer to the attention of the court, thereby opening up the possibility of some recompense as well as the punishment of the wrong. In this sense, presentment acted as a cheaper and easier, that is relatively risk free, alternative to an action in trespass.55 The choice between opting for presentment, in other words making the necessary authorities aware of the misdemeanours of another without necessarily choosing to pursue that other through a plea of trespass, was, undoubtedly, a calculation also informed in no small measure by relative wealth and access to law and legal 52 On the increased use of presentment in the manor court, see Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, pp. 226–50. 53

Canon Pyon (Herefordshire), court of 1 August 1346, Hereford Cathedral Library, R1013c.

54

Birdbook, view of frankpledge, 20 July 1294: ERO, D/DU 267/28/1/1A. See also Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, p. 247. 55

Beckerman, ‘Procedural Innovation’, pp. 246–49.

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understanding. Detailed examination of litigants within particular court roll series suggests to date that litigation tended to be dominated by a cohort, not infrequently a villain-kulak cohort, of the relatively wealthy and the distinctly litigious.56 The second, possibly more significant, point is that litigation in trespass was, at least in part, but one way of proceeding in litigation. The process by which an individual litigant in trespass came to sue in that form and not, say, in breach of contract or in debt is largely hidden from us. But it is clear that, while some choices were obvious ones to make, others were not so obvious and yet, certainly by the second half of the thirteenth century, individuals were in a position to make them. Some of that choice was necessarily restricted by the nature of the case and was no doubt informed by the advice of those versed in law, including professional pleaders. It is also evident that, where litigation was contemplated, trespass might be employed judiciously as part of a suite of tactics for dispute resolution.57 If we consider, for example, a series of cases at Cuxham (Oxon.) in 1316, we can see a range of uses of trespass within what appears to be a single dispute between two men, Adam the Miller and Robert le Deghere. All five cases occur in the same single court, held on 27 July 1316. In the first case, a plea of trespass, it is alleged by Adam that the servant of Robert le Deghere had broken a small stone bridge across the millrace next to the mill of Adam the Miller to the damage of Adam and the nuisance of the whole community. Robert denied this and offered to wage his law. In the second case, Adam the Miller was summoned to respond to Robert le Deghere for various utensils which he had taken from his mill contrary to the peace of the lord. Adam also denied this and offered to wage his law. In the third case, Robert was this time sued in a plea for failing to repay Adam in ten bushels of tolcorn (at a price of 2s. 4d. per bushel) and half a bushel of oat flour worth 18d. Robert acknowledged the debt and Adam recovered his property plus 13s. 4d. in damages. In the fourth case, Adam was this time sued in a plea by Robert for the lease of a mill for eight years, Robert claiming he was ejected after one year; Adam could not deny this and this time Robert recovered 13s. 4d. in damages. Finally, in the fifth case between the two men in the same court, Robert sued Adam in a plea that Adam had seized geese from Robert’s curtilage and detained them to his damage and contra pacem domini. Adam claimed that his seizure of the property had been just as Robert owed him ten bushels of grain and half a bushel of oat flour (as in case number three). The court did not agree, declaring it contrary to the law of the land (lex terre). Adam

56

Schofield, ‘Peasants and the Manor Court’, pp. 13–15.

57

Schofield, ‘Peasants and the Manor Court’, pp. 2–42.

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was amerced and Robert awarded 6d. of the 12d. damages that he had claimed.58 In these five instances between the two men we see something approximating to the range of trespass, including forcible trespass, such as damage to property and distraint of livestock, the seizure of goods contra voluntatem, unjust detention, and breach of contract including ejectment from a lease, eiectio firme.59

Conclusion In this discussion of trespass litigation the focus has been upon law and its development within the jurisdiction of the manor court. While it remains, at this stage, difficult to assert with any absolute certainty that, within such a jurisdiction, litigation in trespass either followed common law developments or departed greatly from them, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that litigation in trespass in form and in substance did, by the end of the thirteenth century, follow in many respects the sorts of developments to be found in common law and, broadly, appears to have undergone the same sorts of developments. To follow some of the work on common law, it is reasonable to suggest that late thirteenth-century developments in jurisdiction, chiefly associated with the Statute of Gloucester (1278), effected changes in trespass law and may have inadvertently encouraged more trespass cases into central courts. Trespass cases remained a feature of manor courts, though, and were, most probably, a significant part of the earliest business, which is largely lost to us; in this respect it is clear that the suggestion of Woodbine, that the records of manor courts arrive too late to allow us any sense of their role in the development of a law of trespass, seems largely correct.60 Though further study will continue to test this proposition, what we appear to see is, more evidently, central court law copied, often with some subtle and likely informed modification, in the local courts. In terms of further discussion the identification of the agency involved in such a process is of clear relevance and importance; while a rule-centred, topdown, development of law in local courts should certainly not be overlooked in this respect, it also reasonable to suppose that some degree of peasant agency, consistent with recently identified patterns of consumption and of ‘politicization’, and which Chris Dyer has done so much to elucidate, was also highly significant.

58

Manorial Records of Cuxham, ed. by Harvey, pp. 639–40.

59

For ejectment on a lease, see Milsom, ‘Trespass from Henry III to Edward III’, pp. 4–7.

60

Woodbine, ‘Origins of the Action of Trespass [I]’, pp. 800–01.

INDIVIDUALISM , C OMMUNITY, AND L ORDSHIP: T HE P EASANT D EMESNE L ESSEES OF G REAT H ORWOOD , 1320–1610 Matthew Tompkins

H

istorians have taken many different approaches to the medieval peasantry and the communities it lived in. Much early work treated the peasantry as a relatively undifferentiated, monolithic class defined principally by its legal and economic relationship with its manorial lords, due to preoccupation with either the seigneurial classes and their institutions or, among Marxist historians, the class struggle.1 More recent attention has focused on the peasantry’s internal variety and complexity, often stressing its stratification and disunity, sometimes emphasizing the peasantry’s increasing commercialization and the engagement of entrepreneurial individuals with capitalism, while much debate has centred on the relative

This paper is based on a thesis supervised by Professor Dyer: Matthew Tompkins, ‘Peasant Society in a Midlands Manor, Great Horwood 1400–1600’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Leicester, 2006). I should like to record my debts to Professor Dyer for his supervision, advice, and encouragement, Caroline Dalton, formerly archivist at New College, Oxford, for two years of unfailing helpfulness, Professors Harold Fox and Richard Smith who examined the thesis, and Dr. Christopher Briggs, for generously sharing his research into fourteenth-century Great Horwood. 1

For the seigneurial or institutional approach, see for example Frederic Seebohm, The English Village Community (London: Longmans, Green, 1883), pp. 21–31; Paul Vinogradoff, Villeinage in England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1892), and Vinogradoff, The Growth of the Manor (London: Swann, Sonnenschein, 1905); Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seignorial Courts, ed. by Frederic W. Maitland, Selden Society, 2 (London: B. Quaritch, 1889). For examples of a Marxist approach, see Rodney H. Hilton, The Economic Development of some Leicestershire Estates in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947), Hilton, The English Peasantry in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).

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importance of the individual and the family.2 These developments have all tended to discount the strength of the village community, but some historians, among them Professor Dyer, have continued to argue that the communities within which the individual peasants and their families and social strata existed were also a powerful factor in their lives, at times even a dominant one, and that internal stresses could be a source of strength. Thus Dyer has investigated not only the tensions within the peasant community, between individual and collective enterprise, private rights and communal obligations, wealth and poverty, the landed and the landless, insiders and outsiders, but also its occasional ability to act cohesively, for the communal benefit. Another ever-present theme in his work has been peasant enterprise, both individual and collective; he has written often on the medieval peasants’ ability to take the initiative and exercise some measure of control over their own affairs independently of seigneurial authority, and even on occasion in defiance of it.3 Occasionally discussions of the peasantry mention the phenomenon of village communities taking a lease of the lord’s demesne, as evidence of collective enterprise and cohesiveness.4 But such communal leases were rare, and little is known

2

For internal stratification, see, for example, works of the Toronto School such as J. Ambrose Raftis, Tenure and Mobility: Studies in the Social History of the Medieval English Village (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1964) or Raftis, Warboys: Two Hundred Years in the Life of an English Medieval Village (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1974). For examples of studies of entrepreneurial peasant capitalists, see Paul Glennie, ‘In Search of Agrarian Capitalism: Manorial Land Markets and the Acquisition of Land in the Lea Valley c. 1450–c. 1560’, Continuity and Change, 3 (1988), 11–40, or Jane Whittle, The Development of Agrarian Capitalism: Land and Labour in Norfolk, 1440–1580 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). The debate on family and individual is summarized in chapters by Smith, Razi, and Dyer in Land, Kinship and Life-cycle, ed. by Richard M. Smith, Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); in Zvi Razi, ‘The Myth of the Immutable English Family’, Past and Present, 140 (1993), 3–44; and in Jane Whittle, ‘Individualism and the Family-land Bond: A Re-assessment of Land Transfer Patterns among the English Peasantry c. 1270–1580’, Past and Present, 160 (1998), 25–63. 3

Professor Dyer has written specifically on these subjects in Christopher Dyer, ‘The English Medieval Village Community and its Decline’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), 407–29; Dyer, ‘The Political Life of the Fifteenth-Century English Village’, in Political Culture in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by Linda Clark and Christine Carpenter, Fifteenth Century Series, 4 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 135–57; and Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), ch. 2; but of course they also appear in most of his other works. 4

Rodney H. Hilton, A Medieval Society: The West Midlands at the End of the Thirteenth Century, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983; originally published London:

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about them, possibly because most were fairly short-lived. This is a study of one such lease, of the manorial demesne at Great Horwood in Buckinghamshire, which casts a useful light on the two themes of peasant community and peasant enterprise. It was granted to the customary tenants of the manor collectively in 1320, and their management of this substantial asset over the following three centuries, both the land itself and their relationship with their lord, demonstrated both the individualist tendencies of the medieval peasant and his ability to act jointly with his neighbours for the communal good. This cohesiveness was not solely a response to external pressures, for example from the lord, but was also manifested internally; thus in the fifteenth century the tenants pooled their individual shares in a large block of the demesne arable in order to convert it into a large private pasture held by them in common. The fact that they excluded the lord from this pasture (and managed to hold on to much of it until enclosure in 1842, even in the face of suits in the courts of Common Pleas and Chancery) gives them the distinction of being possibly the only peasant community to have dispossessed their lord of his arable and enclosed it as their private pasture. In Great Horwood, sheep ate lords. Great Horwood is a compact nucleated village in the middle of the north Buckinghamshire clay plain, between Aylesbury and Buckingham. It lies on top of the line of low hills which extends west–east across the northern half of the county, separating the valley of the Ouse from that of the Thame. The parish of Great Horwood contains a second settlement, the hamlet of Singleborough, but that was always a separate economic and social unit, with its own manor and field system, and the manor of Great Horwood was essentially identical with the eponymous village and its township, an area of some 2400 acres.5 After enclosure in 1842, it became a landscape of hedged pastures, but in 1320 the arable strips of its three open fields extended to the township’s western, southern, and eastern boundaries, though interlaced by ribbons of stream-side meadow. In this it hardly differed from

Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966), pp. 153–54; Dyer, ‘English Medieval Village Community’, p. 411; J. A. Tuck, ‘Tenant Farming and Tenant Farmers: The Northern Borders’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. III: 1348–1500, ed. by Edward Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 587–96 (p. 588). 5

The township of Great Horwood also contained a small fee called Berner’s or Bradwell’s Fee, but in 1280 it comprised less than 10 per cent of the township and had a demesne of just one yardland, and during the early sixteenth century seems to have been effectively brought within the main manor through piecemeal purchase of its constituent tenements by the principal manor’s lord; Rotuli Hundredorum, ed. by William Illingworth and John Caley, 2 vols (London: Record Commission, 1812–18), I, 336.

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most villages in the Midlands region, of course, but in one respect Great Horwood was less typical: before enclosure, the township’s northern third had comprised an extensive Great Common incorporating several large coppices known as Prior’s Wood (part of the adjacent Whaddon Chase), which gave it rather more pasture and woodland than many other Midland communities enjoyed. Nevertheless, when during the modern period north Buckinghamshire began its long and gradual conversion to pastoral farming, Great Horwood followed suit and, from the late sixteenth century onwards, small closes were created, usually out of the stream-side meadows and adjacent open field strips, while other strips became unenclosed grass leys. The manor of Great Horwood was given to the Priory of St Faith in Longueville in Normandy shortly after the conquest. In 1367, no doubt prompted by the exigencies of its status as an alien priory during the Hundred Years’ War, and possibly not entirely voluntarily, the priory granted a twenty-year lease of the manor to Nicholas de Tamworth, the King’s Admiral and Captain of Calais. Two years later, along with other English lands belonging to alien priories, Great Horwood was temporarily confiscated and thereafter Tamworth’s rent was paid to the Crown. For the next forty-five years it was leased to a succession of royal favourites and creditors. In 1414 the confiscation became permanent, and in 1441 the manor was granted outright to New College, Oxford, which has held it ever since.6 New College’s archives contain voluminous records relating to the manor, including extraordinarily complete runs of court rolls from 1302 right up to the modern period, on which this article is primarily based.7 An extent dated 3 May 1320, presumably prepared in connection with the grant of the demesne lease, provides a detailed description of the manor’s social and tenurial structure, and some information on its landscape and agriculture.8 It was 6

From 1367 until 1399 the lessees were successively Nicholas de Tamworth, his widow Joan, and her second husband Gilbert Talbot. Thomas Tutbury then held it briefly, but from 1403 until about 1440 it was leased to Sir Ralph Rocheford, another military commander in the wars with France. After his death the lease remained in his assignees’ hands, but in 1441 the king granted the reversion to New College, Oxford, which bought out the lessees the following year; Newington Longville Charters, ed. by Herbert E. Salter, Oxfordshire Record Society, 3 (Oxford: Oxfordshire Record Society, 1921), pp. xliii–xliv. 7

They are listed in Francis W. Steer, The Archives of New College, Oxford: A Catalogue (Chichester: Phillimore, 1974). 8

New College Archives (hereafter NCA), 4503. A later version of the extent, partly updated in c. 1390 with the name of the current tenant of each holding, can be found in New College’s Liber Niger (NCA, 9744, fols 37–40) and in a bundle of seventeenth-century copies of estate records (NCA, 3946), and has been printed in Warren O. Ault, Open-field Farming in Medieval

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divided tenurially into thirty-five yardlands (six free and twenty-nine customary), eleven landless cottage holdings, and three landless messuages, plus a small demesne of some two hundred statutory acres (c. 1500 a yardland in Great Horwood amounted to thirty customary acres or 35.7 statutory acres). The tenanted land was held by twenty-one yardlanders (five of them free tenants) and twenty-seven halfyardlanders (one of them free), plus six freeholders holding fractions of a half yardland and seven cottagers and tenants of landless messuages (of uncertain status; see below); the other seven cottages were held by yardlanders. This was a very level playing field, with four fifths of the tenants holding either a half or a full yardland, and none holding more than a yardland plus a cottage.9 Rents were relatively low, mostly 4s. to 4s. 6d. per yardland (a little under 1½d. per acre), and the work services were light — just fourteen days a year. The description of the demesne suggests an agriculture heavily biased towards grain production in three large common fields with little emphasis on pastoralism, since it details only very small areas of meadow and pasture — though of course there was also the rough pasture in the common waste and the Prior’s Wood. The crops grown on the demesne were much the same as those on which the tenants were taxed in the 1327 lay subsidy: wheat, barley, drage (a barley/oats mix), oats, and beans.10 Nine days after the extent was completed the tenants, or a large group of them, took a momentous step — they collectively took a lease of the demesne. Its salient points were recorded in the roll of the court held on 12 May 1320: it comprised all the demesne land, meadows, and pasture and all the tenants’ works, but excluded the lord’s woods, the tenants’ rents, all court profits, fines on sales of land, maritagium payments by villeins, heriots, aids, tallages, and woodhen rents; it was for a term of twelve years from the previous Hockday (8 April 1320); and it reserved a yearly rent of 8 marks 9s. 4d. (i.e. £5 16s.), payable in two halves at the feasts of St James the Apostle and St Martin in Winter (25 July and 11 November). The entry

England: A Study of English By-laws (London: Allen and Unwin, 1972), p. 204, though with some inaccuracies of transcription. Unfortunately only the tenants’ names were updated in 1390 — everything else was copied unaltered, including the 1320 date, so that Ault and others have taken it for a list of the 1320 tenants and their pre-1320 predecessors. However, comparison with the unaltered 1320 original and the tenants’ names in the court rolls from c. 1320 and c. 1390 reveals that the updated version was prepared in or within a year or two of 1390. 9 Though one yardlander, Robert Saundres, held a second yardland jointly with Alice de Boycote. For a more detailed discussion of Great Horwood’s social structure throughout the term of the demesne lease, see Tompkins, ‘Peasant Society in a Midlands Manor’, ch. 4. 10

The National Archives: Public Record Office, E179 242/86 (1327 subsidy).

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added that the tenants must return the land weeded, but recorded no other terms of the lease, referring instead to two chirograph letters, one held by the lord and the other by the customars, neither of which has survived.11 The year 1320 was an unusually early date for a demesne to be leased in the south-east — few landlords there are known to have converted from direct management to leasing before the 1320s, and most did not go over fully to leasing until the late fourteenth, or even the fifteenth, century.12 It is not clear why the priory took this step. Great Horwood was one of a number of manors held by it and governed from a sub-priory just five miles away at Newton Longville. The explanation may be that the sub-priory was only a small cell manned by just one or two monks — it would have had difficulty consuming the produce of even one demesne and may have found direct exploitation for the market too burdensome, especially of a demesne as small as that of Great Horwood (just two hundred acres). The final trigger for the move to leasing may have been the catastrophic famine and murrains of the 1310s and early 1320s. Another unusual aspect of the lease was the identity of the lessees. Although in the early fourteenth century demesne lessees elsewhere were commonly local manorial tenants, they were usually individuals, each leasing only a part of the demesne. Demesne leases granted to all the tenants collectively were rare, as were leases of entire manors to the tenants collectively — that is, leases not just of the demesne but also of the lordship over the rest of the manor, the right to receive the tenants’ rents, hold the manorial courts, etc. Several such leases can be identified in Domesday Book (and more may have been hidden behind that document’s terse language), while others were granted during the next century or so, an earlier period when demesnes were normally farmed out. Few of those early leases of entire manors seem to have survived into the late medieval period — presumably many were terminated towards the end of the twelfth century when demesnes began to be resumed by lords in order to begin their direct exploitation.13

11

NCA, 3913/25r.

12

Phillipp R. Schofield, Peasant and Community in Medieval England 1200–1500 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 46. 13

John Hare, ‘The Demesne Lessees of Fifteenth-Century Wiltshire’, Agricultural History Review, 29 (1981), 1–15; F. R. H. du Boulay, ‘Who Were Farming the English Demesnes at the End of the Middle Ages?’, Economic History Review, 22 (1969), 443–55; Barbara F. Harvey, ‘The Leasing of the Abbot of Westminster’s Demesnes in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 22 (1969), 17–27; Robert S. Hoyt, ‘Farm of the Manor and Community of the Vill in Domesday Book’, Speculum, 30 (1955), 147–69; Reginald Lennard, Rural England, 1086–1135:

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Kingsthorpe, just outside Northampton, was one exception, possibly because the lease there was not granted until the reign of King John, at the very time when direct exploitation of demesnes was just starting (the tenants there continued to be their own lord, even adopting a corporate seal, right up to the twentieth century).14 Two others were Milbrook and Alverstoke in Hampshire, both manors of the Bishop of Winchester. The latter may in fact have been more akin to a lease of the demesne only — in Domesday Book the manor is stated to be held by its villani (and, like those of Kingsthorpe, its tenants later used a corporate seal, hinting at a genuinely self-governing body), but the bishop nevertheless held three weekly courts.15 In 1490 Magdalen College, Oxford, leased the demesne of Quinton in Warwickshire to its vicar and five of the wealthier tenants. As there were more than twenty tenants in all this was not quite a lease to the tenants collectively, but it is interesting that the College may have deliberately chosen a consortium of local men, rather than a single lessee from outside, at least partly in response to the vicar’s suggestion that it would ‘support and succour a community’.16 In any event, occasions when tenants collectively took leases of assets as substantial as an entire demesne or manor were not numerous, and this is hardly surprising — joint ownership by even two or three partners often produces more discord than profit, and collective management by an entire village would have been particularly fraught. Not all communities were sufficiently cohesive to be able to take advantage of such opportunities. For example leases of demesne mills, whose operation was of great economic importance to village communities, yet was often a vehicle for their exploitation, were seldom taken up by communities.17 Great Horwood’s collective acquisition of the demesne suggests an unusually confident, enterprising,

A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 153–54; Hilton, A Medieval Society, pp. 153–54. 14

The Kingsthorpe tenants thereby also acquired the Hundred of Spelhoe, which was appurtenant to the manor; J. Hulbert Glover, Kingsthorpiana, or, Researches in a Church Chest (London: Elliot Stock, 1883); Ault, Open-field Farming in Medieval England, pp. 72–75; Victoria County History, Northamptonshire, vol. IV , ed. by Louis F. Salzman (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1937), p. 83. 15

Victoria County History, Hampshire, vol. III, ed. by William Page (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1908), pp. 203, 428. 16 17

Dyer, Age of Transition?, pp. 83–84.

John Langdon, Mills in the Medieval Economy: England 1300–1540 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 212.

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and above all united community — their retention of it for nearly three centuries would demonstrate an equally unusual level of cohesion and determination. There is some uncertainty as to whether the Great Horwood lease was taken by all the tenants, or just a large group of them. The 1320 court roll entry described the lessees as the lord’s customars (Customar’ suis), which suggests that the free tenants were excluded, perhaps because the lord could exercise less control over them. It may also point to the exclusion of the cottagers, who might normally be regarded as customary tenants, if it is significant that the 1320 extent grouped the tenants under four headings: free tenants, customary tenants of yardlands, customary tenants of half yardlands, and cottagers. Later references to the demesne lessees sometimes describe them as ‘the customary tenants’, but more often as ‘certain tenants’, ‘divers tenants’, or ‘various tenants’, suggesting that the lessees were a smaller category than the entire body of tenants.18 They were nevertheless a sizeable and dominant proportion of it: in the extent the customary yardlanders and half-yardlanders comprised more than two thirds of the tenants by number, and held over three quarters of the tenanted land. Most of the cottages were held by yardlanders, leaving only three or four mere cottagers to be excluded from the body of lessees (if they were in fact excluded).19 The 116s. rent reserved by the lease was evidently calculated by reference to the land values stated in the contemporaneous extent. The extent gave a rental value for every part of the demesne and for each tenanted holding stated both the assize rent and the commuted value of its labour obligations. The total values of the demesne arable, meadow, and pasture (50s. 11½d.) plus the total values of all the customary tenants’ works (54s. 3¼d., including those of the cottagers) was almost exactly 116s., so it seems clear that the extent was compiled in connection with the grant of the lease.20 It is a tribute to the conservatism of medieval accounting practice that from 1471 until their cessation in 1596 the annual reeve’s or bailiff’s accounts always broke the demesne rents down under the same headings as in the extent. Thus throughout the sixteenth century they recorded receipt of inter alia 25s. 8½d. for the demesne arable, 22s. 9d. for the demesne meadow, and 2s. 6d. for the demesne pasture, exactly the values attributed to them in the 1320 extent. Again, as late as 18

Unless it reflects a practice of some tenants taking the lease on behalf of all of them, as was certainly done in 1409; NCA, 3916/m. 17r. 19 20

NCA, 4503.

An extent was also prepared at Newton Longville, in 1310 (NCA, 1392), but no demesne lease seems to have been granted there.

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the end of the sixteenth century (and possibly still later — no accounts are available after that date) they recorded receipt of the sums set down in the extent for the commuted labour obligations: 24s. 4½d. for the yardlanders’ works, 26s. 6¾d. for half-yardlanders’ works, and 3s. 4d. for those of the cottagers.21 It may also be a tribute to the tenants’ ability to organize themselves that two hundred years later they were still able to collect these rents and pay them to the lord. However, we have no record of the mechanisms by which this was done, or indeed any certainty that it was done at all, and it may be more likely that in 1320 a share of the rents was allocated to each holding and thereafter paid by its tenant directly to the lord (and perhaps apportioned whenever a holding was subdivided). The communal tailmark rent, which had been paid in commutation of suit of mill since before 1320, seems to have been divided in this way, since in 1610 each ancient holding was still paying a sum in respect of it, as well as its assize rent.22 The 116s. rent reserved by the lease proved to be remarkably enduring. The accounts show that it was unchanged until 1470, and thereafter remained within a few shillings of 116s. until the accounts end in 1596, notwithstanding rises and falls in prices and land values and many renewals of the lease which could have provided an opportunity for its renegotiation. Further, even when in the late sixteenth century the tenants’ lease was replaced by a succession of leases to non-resident gentry, the rent reserved by the latter was always 50s. 11½d., exactly the valuation placed on the demesne arable, meadow, and pasture in the 1320 extent, though excluding the element for commuted villein works.23 The only variable seems to have been the fine paid for the lease or its renewal.24 Though originally granted for only twelve years, the lease continued in existence for two and a half centuries. For at least 130 years it was renewed regularly, apparently usually for twelve- to twenty-year terms. However, although the original grant

21

There is a nearly unbroken series of accounts from 1441 to 1596. Their archival numbers are non-sequential and too numerous to list; they can be found in Steer, Archives of New College, pp. 18–26. 22

NCA, 3946.

23

NCA, 1991/6,7 (accounts); 9760, fol. 214v ; 9761, fols 250, 263, 517; 9762, fol. 409 (lease registers). 24

The records seldom indicate whether a fine was paid, or how large it was. £5 was paid in 1409, and the same sum was proposed by the steward but rejected by the tenants in 1430 (NCA, 3916/17r, 3917/12r). The only other reference is a Bailiff’s Account of 1573–74, which mentions 50s. unpaid by the new demesne lessee in respect of his fine, but whether all or part of it is not made clear (NCA, 2007/5–6r).

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had been recorded in the court rolls, the renewals were only occasionally recorded there, perhaps only when there had been some dispute concerning the terms. In the first half of the fifteenth century there are four such entries, of which three mention disagreement. One renewal in 1409 was for a twenty-year term, but the next in 1430 seems to have been for only twelve years. In 1409 a fine of £5 was paid for the twenty-year renewal, but in 1430 the steward’s offer of a renewal for just twelve years for the same fine was rejected by the tenants (though the grounds for the rejection are not clear). The following year an incomplete entry suggests that the lease was then renewed at the will of the lord, though the fact that the next renewalrelated entry appears eleven years later suggests that a twelve-year term may have been granted in the end. In 1442 the tenants were recorded requesting a reduction in yearly rent of 4s. 9d., but the accounts show that they did not get it.25 After the middle of the fifteenth century even these intermittent entries cease entirely, possibly due to the arrival of the new lord, New College. Certainly no renewal of the lease is ever mentioned in the registers of leases which the College kept from at least 1480 onwards.26 However, continued receipt of the rent in the accounts shows that the lease was still in existence, so it may have been that by then its renewal had come to be regarded as something which happened automatically, without need for positive action by either party. The lease seems finally to have come to an end in the third quarter of the sixteenth century, though it is not clear exactly how or when it was terminated, as no record of the event exists. From the 1550s until 1611 the court rolls record attempts by the College to identify and recover the demesne lands (see below), and from at least 1574 the College granted leases of the demesne to outsiders, usually fellows of the College, at the original 1320 rent for the arable, meadow, and pasture. The timing of the lord’s revived interest in its demesne is significant. This was the period when inflation had begun to reduce the real value of the fixed elements in the manorial lords’ incomes, such as rents of assize and fines certain, and they were looking round for ways to restore the situation. It produced an Indian summer of manorialism, as lords scrutinized their old law books, custumals, and court rolls for evidence of lapsed manorial powers and tried to resurrect them. Some lords extracted cash from descendants of families who had once been their bondmen by rigorous enforcement of burdens of serfdom which had been in desuetude for several generations (in this they were following the lead of the Crown, which

25

NCA, 3916/17r, 3917/12r, 15v, 41r.

26

NCA, 9756–59.

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right up to end of Elizabeth’s reign augmented its revenues by tracking down the descendants of villeins on royal manors and forcing them to buy their manumission).27 Others attempted to reimpose long-abandoned incidents of manorial lordship, such as ownership of the timber on customary holdings or the right to licence sub-lettings or sell wardships, or claimed, not always successfully, the power to charge unreasonable entry fines on inheritance or even simply to evict their customary tenants. The sixteenth century saw many battles fought between lords and tenants over these issues, sometimes through the courts, sometimes by seigneurial coercion and popular riot, until the law on each point was settled by the courts or some kind of general social consensus emerged.28 New College was not one of the more grasping lords, demanding little more from its tenants than the return of the two hundred acres of its demesne — which on a point of law it was perfectly entitled to do. However, its tenants were unappreciative of this moderation and forced the College to fight a long battle, over the sixty years between 1551 and 1611, at the end of which the College was only partly successful, failing to recover some sixty acres (almost a third of the demesne). Such a lengthy period of defiance, not entirely unsuccessful, must be evidence of a strong communal cohesiveness among the Great Horwood tenantry. The College’s main problem was that the precise location of the demesne lands was unknown, to the College at least,29 and if the tenants knew, they were not saying. It had been two hundred years since the demesne had first been leased out, and the lordship of the manor had changed hands several times since then (in one case by confiscation, which must have resulted in some discontinuity of estate records). The court rolls of 1551, 1555, 1556, 1577, and 1584 record orders to the tenants to identify their demesne lands, but they simply denied any knowledge of their whereabouts, insisting that every selion they farmed was part of their ancestral copyholds. They may even have believed it — more than two centuries and ten or eleven generations had passed since the first lease had been taken. The College did

27

Alexander Savine, ‘Bondmen under the Tudors’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, n.s., 17 (1903), 235–86; Diarmaid MacCulloch, ‘Bondmen under the Tudors’, in Law and Government under the Tudors: Essays Presented to Sir Geoffrey Elton, ed. by Claire Cross, David Loades, and J. J. Scarisbrick (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 91–109. 28

Eric Kerridge, Agrarian Problems in the Sixteenth Century and After (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1969); Richard W. Hoyle, ‘Tenure and the Land Market in Early Modern England: Or a Late Contribution to the Brenner Debate’, Economic History Review, 43 (1990), 1–20. 29

The 1320 extent only stated the demesne’s acreage in each of the three open fields, without describing it further.

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not believe them, however. When it brought a suit against the tenants in Chancery in 1609 its plaint alleged that they had in many years by cunning and practice amongst themselves concealed and suppressed the ancient bounds and marks of the demesne lands, and the terriers, boundary records and other evidences, in order to share the benefit of the lands amongst themselves.30

In 1577 the College determined that the six acres of demesne land which it knew to be somewhere in the West Field were fifteen ridges in a furlong called Ladell Hill. The strips were occupied by eleven tenants, whose comments on the lord’s claims were recorded in the court roll, and included the following: - John Foscote saith on his oath that the fourth strip in Ladell Hill southward from the Parson’s headland’s end is belonging to his copyhold, and so doth claim it, and so hath occupied it to his knowledge - William Cooper saith that he hath occupied the first and the fifteenth strips there as he hath occupied all the rest of his land but will not challenge it to be his copyhold - Thomas Mallett saith that he thinketh the second to be his copy land. - Henry Cooper for the third strip saith that his father hath said, he should have wrong if he should be put out from it - John Taylor for the fifth and sixth ridges being a half acre saith it is belonging to his copyhold.31

The other tenants spoke in similar vein, each claiming his strip to be part of his copyhold tenancy. Some of their protestations, for example Henry Cooper’s report of his father’s outrage, have the ring of truth, suggesting that if the land had once been demesne, the tenants no longer knew it to be such. The entry is significant because it is the first direct evidence of what the tenants had done with the demesne’s two hundred acres and demonstrates that their collectivism had limits. It must always have been unlikely that they would farm the demesne communally, either consuming the produce themselves or selling it in the market — that would have been a feat of utopian collectivism probably beyond any medieval peasant community. However, a more feasible approach, and one known to have been adopted by other village communities which acquired landholdings collectively (albeit usually much smaller ones), would have been to sub-lease the land, either as a whole or in parcels, and to apply the income to communal purposes.32 Instead, in a triumph of individualism over collectivism, they seem simply

30

NCA, 4499/59. In this and subsequent quotations the spelling has been modernized.

31

NCA, 3922/6 v , 7r.

32

Dyer, ‘English Medieval Village Community’, pp. 410–11.

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to have shared the demesne lands out among themselves, each adding a few acres to his customary holding. On the other hand it looks as though each tenant received ridges scattered across a number of furlongs, rather than a single discrete block, presumably to ensure equal shares of the better and worse soils, so to that extent a rather traditional form of collectivism prevailed. Other questions are left unanswered. Did each tenant get an equal share, or a share proportionate to his existing landholding, or did some more uneven distribution take place? (Two hundred acres divided equally between forty-two yardlanders and half-yardlanders would have given each a little over five acres; if the share had been proportionate to holding size then the ratio would have been a little under seven acres per yardland.)33 Did anyone other than the customary yardlanders and half-yardlanders get a look in? Was the land shared out immediately, right back in 1320, or did that only occur after a period of communal management? Was the initial division permanent, or were there periodic adjustments or reallocations? A brief entry in the court roll of 12 May 1320 suggests that the lands were shared out immediately after the grant of the original lease. Just two entries below the one recording the grant is another, stating that Hugh Neel (a yardlander) had with the lord’s licence granted his part of the demesne meadow and one acre of arable land to Ralph Margery (a landless member of a free family), on condition that Ralph satisfied the lord for his entry of his portion of the demesne during the term of the customars’ lease, in return for which Hugh acquitted Ralph (after payment to the lord for the entry into the meadow and land) against all rents and other customs. Thus it seems that the tenants had shared out the demesne amongst themselves, and begun trading in their shares, just as soon as the ink on the chirograph lease was dry.34 It would be interesting to discover what happened in other manors where the demesne was leased collectively, or, since no other cases are known, in manors where the tenants were lessees of the manor itself, and thus also of the demesne. Kingsthorpe appears to be the only such manor for which anything has been published; its manorial records, while not voluminous, have survived in reasonable numbers from 1350 up to the present day, and some have been printed. The published extracts do not contain any reference to either demesne land or leases of demesne land, though they do contain a number of leases of the demesne mills, so 33

The bounds which tell us the Great Horwood yardlands comprised thirty customary acres (35.7 statutory acres) appear to date from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, and so presumably describe yardlands which included shares of the demesne — in which case the pre-1320 yardlands must have been about twenty-nine or thirty statutory acres. 34

NCA, 3913/25r.

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presumably if leases of the demesne lands had been granted some reference to them would have survived. The manor had definitely once had a demesne (Domesday Book mentions it),35 so it seems most probable that by the later medieval period it was no longer in existence, presumably because it had been divided up among the tenants, and also that it was held by the ordinary copyhold tenure of the manor, not by lease — though perhaps at this point the evidence is being strained too far. Certainly it is impossible to form a view as to whether entirely new holdings were formed out of the demesne, or whether it was simply added in penny packets to pre-existing holdings.36 It is not clear from the court rolls whether New College recovered the six acres on Ladell Hill immediately after the 1577 inquiry quoted above — the tenants may have clung on to them until 1586, when the following entry appeared in the rolls: Whereas before this time Controversy and suit in law hath been between the Lords of this Manor and the Customary Tenants of the same, concerning divers parcels of ground known by the name of Bury Lands lying and being in divers places within this manor, the said Lords having the same as their demesnes and being thereof seised in their demesne as of fee, And the said Tenants sithence claiming the same as parcel of their Copyhold, which hath been tried contrary by verdict, and sithence claiming the same by Prescription, which many of them, as have been sued in their pleadings at the King’s Bench at Westminster, have confessed to be untrue, as by the record of the said Court more plainly appeareth, Now at this court the Customary Tenants of the said Manor [twenty-two of them are listed by name] confessed in open court that they have no title in or to the premises either as parcel of their copyhold or otherwise And that all the possession they have heretofore had in the premises have been at the only will and sufferance of the said Lords and their predecessors or by Lease and not by the Custom of the Manor And do further confess that it is lawful for the said Lords to demise the premises and every part thereof in possession to any person or persons at their will and pleasure.37

But even that apparently complete victory did not end the matter. It only dealt with the demesne land in the West and South Fields — about fifty-three acres, a mere quarter of the total. The biggest parcel, 140 acres, had been in the East Field, 35

Exchequer Domesday, fol. 147b.

36

Glover, Kingsthorpiana. Ault, Open-field Farming in Medieval England, pp. 72–75, also discusses Kingsthorpe’s organization in the late medieval period, but does not specifically address the question of what had happened to the original demesne. Another late medieval example of a complete manor leased to its tenants (but whose records have not been published) is Palgrave in Suffolk — Dyer, ‘English Medieval Village Community’, p. 411. In Quinton the 1490 lessees did divide the demesne up and add it to their existing holdings, but they were only a small group of six within a much larger body of tenants; Dyer, Age of Transition?, p. 84. 37

NCA 3922/13r.

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and it took another court case, begun in 1609, to settle that. The problem was that at some point in the previous 290 years the tenants had converted most of it into a large communal pasture called Stocking Common, to which only they had access. There is some reason to think that this was not done until the fifteenth century. From 1383 (when they begin again after a break in the series) until 1437 the court rolls record many exchanges of small plots of land, typically one or two selions, presumably in order to create larger strips, perhaps even closes. The location of these selions was not stated, but in nearly every exchange one of the parties was a Baynard, and an estate map made in 1612 shows a close intruding into Stocking Common called Baynard’s alias Pippins Pieces (in which even today ridge and furrow can be seen) — it seems likely that this close was the result of those exchanges, which could hardly have taken place if the common had already been created.38 To recover Stocking Common the College and its lessee of the demesne took the case to the Court of Chancery in 1609, as mentioned above, claiming that they could not return to the common law courts, which had given them their earlier victory, because their lack of documentary evidence would tell against them there, and because none of the ancient inhabitants was willing to give the oral testimony which could substitute for the missing deeds (which two problems they blamed respectively on the tenants having concealed the relevant records, and being all in collusion against the College and its lessee). They also alleged that the tenants had been boasting that no common law jury would find against them, since it would be packed with their friends and well-wishers.39 These allegations may have been just a procedural device to get their case into Chancery, where their lack of documentary evidence would not be fatal to their case, but if true they demonstrate an impressive unity on the part of the tenants. What is unarguably powerful evidence of the tenants’ cohesiveness and determination is the simple fact that they were able to take on a wealthy Oxford College in two successive cases in Common Pleas and Chancery. The cost of fighting them must have been substantial for a rural community of husbandmen and yeomen.

38 39

NCA, 4507.

NCA, 4499/59, an Inspeximus of the Decree of the Court of Chancery made on 8 June 1611, which included a recital of the College’s initial plaint and a summary of the matters at issue, as well as the actual judgement. The demesne lessee who was co-plaintiff in the suit was Robert Barker, a New College graduate, whose family were thereafter in the village for several generations and built the current manor house — his grandson married a cousin of Celia Fiennes, who visited the family at Great Horwood at least twice: Christopher Morris, The Journeys of Celia Fiennes (London: Cresset, 1949), pp. xlviii, 29, 119.

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The case was determined partly in court and partly by an out-of-court agreement reached during an adjournment for that purpose. The result was a qualified victory for the College. It recovered about half the land in dispute, but sixty acres of Stocking Common remained as a private pasture open only to the customary tenants (the College was given rights of pasture over it, but limited to the stint of a single yardland). The two sides had also taken the opportunity of the case to raise every other tenurial issue between them. The College obtained a decree that where a messuage had been divided from its associated yardland or half yardland the heriot should be paid by the tenant of the farmland, not the messuage (the tenants of landless messuages being generally too poor to pay). It also sought a decree that the tenants must obtain its licence before granting underleases (as had indeed once been the custom), and the court obliged, but fixed the licence fee for underleases shorter than six years (at 2d. per acre for terms of three years or less and 4d. per acre for three to six years) and allowed the licences to be obtained, and the licence fee paid, retrospectively at the next following manor court. The tenants sought and obtained a declaration that the College must grant wardships of underage heirs to the nearest kin who could not inherit if the ward died, and for no greater fine than 3s. per yardland.40 So there it ended. After nearly three centuries the tenants of Great Horwood were no longer the lessees of the demesne (though in one sense the lease would last another 230 years, as their collective ownership of the sixty acres which remained in Stocking Common would continue until Great Horwood was finally enclosed in 1842). Their communal tenure of the lease during those three centuries at times demonstrated an impressive collective enterprise: in 1320 when they took the momentous decision to take the lease on (and at intervals thereafter when its renewal was negotiated), in the fifteenth century when they gave up their individual strips in order to create Stocking Common, and in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries when they fought the lord to retain it. On the other hand these communal efforts were frequently deployed for the benefit of individual enterprise; it seems that their first act on acquiring the demesne was to divide it up among themselves, increasing the size of each tenant’s personal holding. However, the community which acquired the lease in 1320 was not the same community as that which defended it in the sixteenth century; Great Horwood’s social structure had changed considerably in the interval. In the fifteenth century the number of tenants holding directly from the manor fell to roughly thirty, or

40

NCA, 4499/59.

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fewer if mere cottagers and tenants of landless dwellings are excluded, and a large submerged population of undertenants and landless men emerged beneath them. Further, many of the tenants now lived outside Great Horwood and underlet their lands to local men.41 Consequently the acquisition of the lease in 1320 was much more nearly a collective enterprise by the entire community than was its defence in 1550–1610 — by that date the lease benefited only a small proportion of the villagers, the majority of whom might have had the right to graze animals on the ancient Great Common in the north of the parish but would have been excluded from the private pasture in Stocking Common (though presumably those who underlet a tenement from a non-resident tenant could exercise the stint appurtenant to the tenement). The fourteenth-century community of the vill had become a sixteenth-century village oligarchy, a land-owning elite excluding a sizeable proportion of the community from the benefits of the lease.

41

For more details of Great Horwood’s social structure in these centuries, see Tompkins, ‘Peasant Society in a Midlands Manor’, especially ch. 4.

M ONITORING D EMESNE M ANAGERS THROUGH THE M ANOR C OURT BEFORE AND AFTER THE B LACK D EATH Chris Briggs

O

ne of the many significant contributions of Christopher Dyer’s work has been to show the key role of the peasant elite in the medieval social and economic system. This elite consisted of the village’s wealthiest, most experienced, and most skilled men. Members of the elite filled the many offices through which the affairs of village, manor, and parish were administered. Those who acted as reeves, beadles, haywards, rent collectors, jurors, constables, aletasters, affeerors, churchwardens, and tax collectors formed an oligarchy whose members were the leaders of their villages.1 Dyer has always stressed that one role of this leadership was to carry out community self-government.2 The various offices were not simply the means through which landlords and the state made demands upon the village. Yet he has also emphasized that the efforts of lords to control and exact services and dues from peasants depended on the work of local officials. The advantage of this for the lord

I am grateful to the archivists of the numerous repositories mentioned below for permission to consult unpublished records in their care, and to this volume’s editors for comments on earlier drafts. 1

Christopher Dyer, ‘The English Medieval Village Community and its Decline’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), 407–29. For the village elite after 1400 and the ‘retreat of lordship’, see Dyer, ‘The Political Life of the Fifteenth-Century English Village’, in Political Culture in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by Linda Clark and Christine Carpenter, Fifteenth Century Series, 4 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 135–57. 2

Dyer, ‘English Medieval Village Community’, pp. 413–16; Christopher Dyer, ‘Taxation and Communities in Late Medieval England’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 168–90 (pp. 186–87).

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was that it allowed him to exploit local knowledge and the desire of officials to increase their personal influence and power within their communities. The disadvantage was that the lord had to accept that the official would soften the impact of seigneurial demands to make them palatable to his neighbours.3 Thus even where lords were assisted by the institution of serfdom, there were limits to the demands they could place upon their tenants. When lords tried to push their officials too far in enforcing seigneurial rights over tenants, they often found that the peasant administrators chose to side with their communities against the lords.4 Dyer’s theme of the critical role of leading peasants in constraining the actions of lords is particularly relevant to the direct exploitation of demesne farms. This is the context for the present essay. Dyer stresses that, like other aspects of manorial lordship, the operation of demesnes relied on leading local peasants.5 The key figure in the system of demesne agriculture was the farm manager who ran the demesne on behalf of its lord. The manager’s main functions were the cultivation of crops, the care of livestock, and the organization of labour. Very often, the demesne manager was a reeve (usually prepositus in the Latin of the document). A leading peasant, the reeve was drawn from among the villein or customary tenants of the manor. Customary tenants were liable to serve as reeve as a condition of tenure. Reeves usually received no salary but were granted other benefits such as remission of rent. By using his manorial tenant to run the demesne, a fortunate lord might get an experienced cultivator who knew local conditions and had standing in the community. However, there was a risk that a reeve would seek to make informal profits from his position in an effort to compensate for the difficulties of his office. Such gains on the reeve’s part could potentially imperil the profitability of the manor for the lord. 3

Christopher Dyer, ‘Power and Conflict in the Medieval English Village’, in Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994), pp. 1–11 (p. 3); Dyer, An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 94–95. 4

For this factor in the English rising of 1381, see Chistopher Dyer, ‘The Causes of the Revolt in Rural Essex’, in Essex and the Great Revolt of 1381: Lectures Celebrating the Six Hundredth Anniversary, ed. by W. H. Liddell and R. G. E. Wood, Essex Record Office Publications, 54 (Chelmsford: Essex Record Office, 1982), pp. 21–36 (pp. 33–34); Dyer, ‘The Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381’, in Dyer, Everyday Life, pp. 210–14. 5

Christopher Dyer, ‘The Ineffectiveness of Lordship in England, 1200–1400’, in Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages: An Exploration of Historical Themes, ed. by Christopher Dyer, Peter Coss, and Chris Wickham, Past and Present Supplement, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 69–86 (pp. 76–77, 79).

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The alternative to the reeve was to employ a salaried manager who was often a non-resident of the manor. Such officials were usually called bailiff (ballivus) or serjeant (serviens). A bailiff or serjeant typically had fewer connections and less influence within the village where his demesne lay. This probably meant there was less scope for the manager and perhaps the other villagers to profit informally from the demesne at the lord’s expense. However, a lack of familiarity with local conditions perhaps made a bailiff or serjeant a less effective manager.6 This essay examines evidence concerning the demesne manager, the landlord’s attitude to him, and his relationship to the rest of the village elite. The evidence consists of the reports, or presentments, about the performance of demesne managers, which villagers made in manor courts. These presentments were written up in the court rolls. They were made in response to questions put to juries of villagers by the lord, or by the steward of his court. The aim of what follows is to determine what these presentments reveal about the effectiveness of the demesne farming system from the lord’s point of view. The first section examines presentments dating from before 1349. It considers the frequency of the enquiries and presentments, the character of the questions put to villagers (where these can be determined), and the nature of the responses. In the second section, the focus is on an unusually detailed group of presentments concerning the demesne of Great Eversden (Cambridgeshire) in the final decades of the fourteenth century. This demesne was run by a bailiff, who appears to have been non-resident. The Eversden material provides a perspective on the demesne farming system at a time when it was facing severe difficulties and was being replaced in many localities by the leasing of demesnes.

Before the Black Death The medieval landlord whose farm was under the day-to-day control of a local manager required some means of checking that the farm was being run in an honest, competent, and — ideally — profitable manner. The most important tool was the system of manorial accounts, and their scrutiny by the lord’s auditors. The

6

On differences between the reeve and the bailiff, see Paul D. A. Harvey, A Medieval Oxfordshire Village: Cuxham, 1240 to 1400 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 73; Ralph Evans, ‘Merton College’s Control Over its Tenants at Thorncroft, 1270–1349’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Zvi Razi and Richard Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 199–259 (pp. 211–20).

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account was a statement of all the cash, grain, and livestock which the demesne manager had received or was responsible for in the period covered by the account, and what he had done with it.7 However, the account and audit were not always an effective means of ascertaining whether the lord’s property was being managed appropriately. To try to discover what a manager was really doing, a lord had to consult local people with access to the information he needed. In looking for the presentments that resulted from such questioning, the rolls of twenty-five manors in eastern England were searched.8 All were under direct management for all or part of the period before 1349. Thirteen were in lay control, and twelve were ecclesiastical properties. For all manors apart from Mildenhall (Suffolk) and Horsham St Faith (Norfolk), at least one and usually many more references to a reeve (prepositus) was found in the records. These references to reeves show that demesne management in most places studied involved a manorial tenant and was not the preserve of a salaried official. In the early years of demesne farming, reeves were often supervised by a second official. This supervisory figure was usually called a bailiff, and often had responsibility for several manors. By the fourteenth century, this two-manager system had

7

For an introduction to accounts, see Paul D. A. Harvey, Manorial Records, Archives and the User, 5, rev. edn (London: British Records Association, 1999), pp. 25–40. 8 Except where specific years are given, all surviving pre-1350 court records of the following manors available for study have been searched. Cambridgeshire: Balsham, London Metropolitan Archives (hereafter LMA), ACC/1876/MR/02/001–011; Barton (Priory manor), Cambridge, King’s College Archives (hereafter KC Archives), BAR/261–2, BAR/296; Foxton, Trinity College Archives, Box 27, rolls 1–5; Landbeach, Cambridge, Corpus Christi College Archives (hereafter CCC Archives), XXXV/121; Littleport, Cambridgeshire Record Office (hereafter CRO), R 93/96; Meldreth, LMA, HO1/ST/E/079/1–8; Swaffham Prior, Cambridge University Library (hereafter CUL), EDC 7/13/2–5. Essex: East and West Hanningfield, Essex Record Office (Chelmsford branch) (hereafter ERO), D/DP M 832; Great Waltham and High Easter, The National Archives: Public Record Office (hereafter TNA: PRO), DL 30/62/750–71, DL 30/63/795–804, DL 30/64/805–08 (1265–97, 1334–50); Ingatestone, ERO, D/DP M 1–11, 13–17; Matching, ERO, D/Dew M 1; Messing, ERO, D/DH X1. Lincolnshire: Langtoft and Baston, Lincolnshire Archives (hereafter LA), 6-ANC 1/13–14, 25, 27, 29, 31–35, 37–40; Toynton, LA, 1-ANC 3/18/2–12 (1311–40). Norfolk: Coltishall, KC Archives, COL/360–65; Hadeston in Bunwell, CUL, Buxton Papers Box 68, and Norfolk Record Office (hereafter NRO), WLS XXIV/1; Heacham, NRO, Le Strange DA 1–2, 8 (1276–98, 1318–27); Hindringham, NRO, DCN 60/32/1, 60/21/1, 60/21/3–4; Horsham St Faith, NRO, NRS 19495–500, 19505 (1265–72, 1275–90, 1309–27); Kipton in Weasenham, CUL, Coke of Weasenham Box 3, rolls 33–35; Panworth in Ashill, NRO, NRS 21154. Suffolk: Aldham, CUL, Vanneck MSS Box 1; Great Barton, Suffolk Record Office (Bury St Edmunds branch) (hereafter SRO), E 18/151/1; Mildenhall, SRO, E 18/451/1–2; Redgrave, University of Chicago Library, Bacon MSS 1–2, 19 (1260–73, 1340–49).

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typically given way to a situation in which the demesne was in the sole charge of one man: either tenant reeve, or salaried bailiff or serjeant.9 This single-manager system was the one most commonly prevailing on the manors studied here. However, it is evident that a few of the reeves of these manors continued to work alongside a superior official. When investigating the officials targeted in the presentments, it is important to be aware of the potential presence of a supervisory official. It must also be emphasized that attention is restricted to presentments that concern aspects of demesne administration and mention reeves, bailiffs, or serjeants. It is true that most principal demesne managers were assisted by numerous subordinate officials and servants in running the farm, the most important of whom was probably the hayward.10 However, overall responsibility for these subordinates lay with the reeve, bailiff, or serjeant, or perhaps with the supervisory official where he was present. These were the key figures in the operation of the demesne, hence the focus on them here. Presentments concerning management of the demesne were found in ten of the twenty-five court roll series. Most of the presentments were made by a sworn inquest jury. Quite probably, the jurors were drawn largely from the village elite. Only two presentments — one from Littleport (Cambridgeshire), and one of two from Kipton in Weasenham parish (Norfolk) — were said to have been made by the whole homage.11 At Aldham (Suffolk), substantial presentments occurred some years apart, in 1274, 1280, and 1340.12 The second of these was made ‘by inquest of the whole vill’. However, the other two Aldham presentments were made by inquest juries. In four of the ten court roll series, the jurors reported that the officials were guilty of no failings and served their lords faithfully and well. These five presentments (two were made at Balsham, Cambridgeshire) were essentially concerned with reeves. In 1288, jurors at Heacham (Norfolk) were asked to report on the alleged misdeeds of William Lune, the reeve, and on another demesne servant. They exonerated them both.13 At Great Barton (Suffolk), Langtoft and Baston (Lincolnshire), and 9

J. S. Drew, ‘Manorial Accounts of St Swithuns Priory, Winchester’, in Essays in Economic History, vol. II, ed. by Eleanora M. Carus-Wilson (London: Edward Arnold, 1962), pp. 14–18; Harvey, Manorial Records, pp. 5–6. 10 For the hayward’s role in demesne cultivation, see, for example, George C. Homans, English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century (New York: Russell and Russell, 1941), p. 296. 11

Littleport: CRO, R 93/96 (7 May 1324); Kipton: CUL, Coke of Weasenham Box 3, roll 35 (11 March 1345, presentment by homage; 7 November 1348, ex officio jury). 12

CUL, Vanneck MSS Box 1 (24 September 1274, 13 March 1280, 23 May 1340).

13

NRO, Le Strange DA 2 (5 May 1288).

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Balsham, the demesne manager was investigated as part of a general enquiry into all the lord’s officials. At Great Barton, the report concerned the ‘lord’s bailiffs’.14 At Langtoft, the jurors commented upon ‘the bailiffs, ministers, and all servants in the manors of Langtoft and Baston’.15 Ballivus is often used vaguely in manorial sources as a generic term for a variety of offices.16 References elsewhere in their records show that the demesne manager at Langtoft and Baston and at Great Barton was a reeve. These general references to bailiffs, ministers, and servants should almost certainly be understood to include the reeves, together with other officials. No evidence has been found to suggest that the reeves at Langtoft and Baston or Great Barton worked with a supervisory bailiff. Of the five presentments which report no failures by the demesne manager, those from Balsham are the only ones to show explicitly that a supervisory bailiff was under scrutiny as well as the reeve. A 1319 Balsham presentment followed an ‘inquest concerning the deeds (de gestu) of the bailiffs, reeve, hayward, woodward, and other servants of the lord’.17 The remaining six court roll series containing presentments on a manager all describe his failings. In one of these, though, a jury defended the actions of the individual concerned, while conceding that he was guilty of some of the charges against him.18 Most of the presentments in these six series comprise groups of relatively lengthy entries and cover several issues. With the exception of Aldham, Kipton, and Matching (Essex), each presentment is confined to just a single court session.19 The form of some of the presentments suggests that they represent responses to an article (or question) from a standard list put routinely to the manorial jury.20 Most, however, clearly arose in response to a special enquiry by the lord. It is possible that such an enquiry might follow a problematic audit at which suspicions had arisen about an accounting official’s conduct. Alternatively, a lord might have been

14

SRO, E 18/151/1 (?1 October 1294).

15

LA, 6-ANC 1/38/6 (28 June 1339).

16

Frances M. Page, The Estates of Crowland Abbey: A Study in Manorial Organisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934), p. 73; Evans, ‘Merton College’s Control’, p. 222. 17

LMA, ACC/1876/MR/02/001 (5 October 1318, 12 October 1319).

18

This Coltishall (Norfolk) entry is described below.

19

Matching, presentments all concerning reeve John Boteri: ERO, D/Dew M 1 (2 July 1323, 25 October 1323, 24 August 1324). 20

For officials’ conduct as an article of enquiry, see Harvey, Medieval Oxfordshire Village, p. 66, n. 1; The English Manor c. 1200–c. 1500, ed. by Mark Bailey (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), p. 193.

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prompted to make further enquiry about an official in response to rumours or complaints from the villagers themselves. All six manors whose pre-plague records contain presentments in any way critical of demesne managers also provide separate references to a reeve elsewhere in those records. This shows that all six demesnes were run by a reeve for at least part of this period. Interestingly, however, the demesne manager upon whom the presentment focused was not invariably termed a reeve. At Aldham, Littleport, and Matching, the official was indeed described in the presentment as a reeve. In the presentments from Coltishall (Norfolk) and Landbeach (Cambridgeshire), however, he was termed a bailiff (ballivus), while in those from Kipton, he was termed a serjeant (serviens).21 What was the nature of the official in these last three instances? As already noted, the term ‘bailiff’ is often used loosely in manorial records. It is even possible that someone who was essentially a tenant reeve could be referred to as a bailiff. This seems to be true of Joseph de Dalgate of Coltishall, who held customary land there.22 Even though he was not called reeve in the presentment, Joseph displayed the reeve’s crucial attribute of being a customary tenant of the manor in which he served. That attribute was probably not shared, however, by John Frer, ballivus of Landbeach, or by John Meyster and Nicholas de Berner, each referred to as serviens of Kipton manor in 1345 and 1348 respectively. Frer was most likely a salaried official, and perhaps non-resident. All available Landbeach court rolls between 1328 and 1336 have been searched in vain for an entry that shows Frer was a manorial tenant. In a trespass dispute of October 1329, however, he is described as serviens domini, a designation which supports the suggestion that he was a salaried manager. At Landbeach, a switch from using a bailiff to electing a tenant reeve appears to have occurred after Frer’s time.23 By contrast, the Kipton serviens was perhaps a supervisory official who oversaw the work of the reeve. The Kipton court

21

Coltishall: KC Archives, COL/361 (11 June 1322); Landbeach: CCC Archives, XXXV/121 (7 May 1331) (for this presentment see also J. R. Ravensdale, Liable to Floods: Village Landscape on the Edge of the Fens A .D . 450–1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 52, which states without foundation that John Frer was a reeve). 22

KC Archives, COL/361 (11 August 1322), COL/363 (11 January 1326) (surrenders of land by Joseph de Dalgate), COL/363 (7 October 1321, an exchange of land between Joseph and his brother Laurence). 23

Earliest reference to the election of a Landbeach reeve: CCC Archives, XXXV/121 (22 October 1344). Landbeach reeves’ accounts survive for 1344–45 and 1347–49: CCC Archives, XXXV/182.

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rolls note frequent elections of a reeve, who was drawn from the customary tenants and distinct from the serviens. Nothing in the court rolls of the period 1335–50 shows that either Meyster or Berner was a tenant or even a resident of Kipton manor. Neither man appears in a list of court suitors of c. 1347.24 In fact, only Meyster is cited elsewhere in the rolls, in a single entry of 1350 concerning a debt case.25 That the Kipton serviens was a salaried official is suggested by the presentment concerning Berner, which reported him for giving away sheaves of the lord’s grain and allowing others to take such sheaves. Berner’s response to the accusation was to ask for payment of the remainder of his salary (stipendium) for the autumn period, a sum of 30d. The Landbeach and Kipton evidence thus suggests that the only demesne officials reported on in these courts were a bailiff and two serjeants, all of whom were apparently salaried and non-resident. Overall, in both manors during the early fourteenth century, tenant reeves were probably just as important as bailiffs and serjeants as demesne managers. However, no reeve was presented against for his failings in these places. This hints that presentments were more likely to be critical of salaried officials than of tenant reeves, a possibility that is returned to in the conclusion to this section. Normally, the rolls do not record the questions put by the lord or steward in making enquiries about demesne managers. The few examples that give such information show that the terms of the enquiry could be general. For instance, as we have seen, the jurors at Balsham in 1319 were described simply as an inquest concerning the ‘deeds’ of the officials. At other times, however, specific allegations were put before the jurors. The 1288 Heacham enquiry was necessary because the reeve and his fellow had been accused of carrying away the lord’s grain and other goods, as well as of other injuries and acts of negligence committed against the lord ‘for [their] gain’ (pro commodo). Another charge was that these men had introduced their own beasts into the seigneurial curia without licence. At Coltishall, too, particular charges had been made against the bailiff, Joseph de Dalgate. The jurors responded to the following questions: did Joseph commit any damage against the lord or lady during his time as bailiff; did he carry the lord’s grain to his own house in autumn; did he or his family fish in the fisheries of the lord or lady; did he plough his own lands with the lord’s ploughs and beasts; did he put the lord’s dung or marl on his own land using the lord’s carts; did he feed his own beasts in the curia at the lady’s expense; and did he conceal any profit to the 24

CUL, Coke of Weasenham Box 3, roll 35, m. 9.

25

CUL, Coke of Weasenham Box 3, roll 35 (29 April 1350).

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lord, or use up any of the lord’s chaff, straw, or hay to the lord’s disadvantage? The jury stoutly defended Joseph. They accepted that he had for one day made use of the lord’s plough on one of his own acres at wheat-sowing time, and that on one other occasion he had used a demesne cart to take three cartloads of dung to his own land. However, it was stressed that these actions were balanced out by favours the bailiff had done the lord. Joseph, the jurors pointed out, had also used his own plough on the lord’s land, had lent the lord his own chaff in winter before the threshing of the demesne grain, and had used his own cart whenever necessary to carry demesne dung and grain, thereby delivering greater benefit to the lord ‘than he himself received from the lord’s carts’. As far as one can tell, then, the primary aim of the specific questions lords put to villagers was to establish whether the demesne manager had exploited seigneurial property for his own benefit. The jurors’ reported statements confirm that the basic honesty of the officials was a key issue. Several presentments, for example, focus on managers who disposed of demesne grain to their own advantage. At Kipton, John Meyster was presented for taking four quarters of diverse grains to Weasenham for his own profit. He also took the lord’s grain out of the manor by night, to ‘Brunham’.26 Presumably, these grains were issues of the manor which John sold for his own profit and intended to exclude from the account. Something like this evidently occurred at Aldham, where in 1280 former reeve Thomas de Mutteslo was presented for selling one quarter of oats for 2s. to Saer Syward. The jury said that Thomas made this sale without instruction from the bailiff and that he failed to respond for it in the account. At Matching, too, the jurors’ main concern was with stock which the reeve did not dispose of entirely to the lord’s profit. For example, John Boteri was reported in July 1323 to have sold sixty-three gallons of cider for a penny each. However, in the account John had charged himself only with ¾d. per gallon. The implication is that John kept ¼d. per gallon for himself. Various other presentments concern seigneurial goods used by the manager for his own benefit. A fascinating example comes from Landbeach, where bailiff John Frer was reported to have sent a cart of the lord’s peat turves to the house of John Waldescef at Westwick, ‘where Milisent his [Frer’s] concubine was dwelling’. This presentment hints at the suspicion that leading villagers were perhaps especially likely to feel towards non-resident demesne managers, which Frer quite probably was. The other dominant theme of the presentments is incompetence or negligence which caused loss to the lord. At Littleport, for example, the reeve put a stack of

26

Possibly Burnham.

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wheat on top of a stack of best barley so that the latter could not ‘release its humours’. Seventy-one quarters rotted as a result and were no good for making into malt. At Matching, the reeve failed to make competently the drainage furrows in the wheat field. At Aldham, the jurors, perhaps in a rather petty fashion, said that the threshing of beans was done by the reeve and one other official in such a way as to leave some three bushels among the chaff, or bean straw. At Landbeach, the jurors estimated the monetary value of a managerial blunder. They reported that the bailiff had set up the lord’s fold so that six acres of land other than the lord’s had been manured, ‘price 2s. per acre’. In each instance, carelessness or lack of skill had resulted in an avoidable mistake which caused the lord unnecessary loss. Previous discussions of manor court presentments on reeves and bailiffs have focused on the manors of Merton College, Oxford, whose rolls contain numerous relevant entries. One of them has attracted particular attention. In 1341 at Cuxham (Oxfordshire), the reeve was presented on the grounds that there were no pigs on the demesne, which could in fact usefully support six with little expense.27 This presentment appears to show that villagers might report in a disinterested way on the degree to which an official was making efficient decisions for his lord.28 Its thrust is that the reeve had failed to maximize returns from the demesne. Yet the evidence of the twenty-five court roll series studied here shows that the Cuxham presentment was unusual in criticizing an official on these grounds. On the whole, those presenting in the manors examined here restricted themselves either to highlighting fraud or to pointing out instances where the manager had caused a needless loss of money. They usually stopped short of claiming that a manager had failed to do things which might have increased efficiency or profits. There are two Aldham presentments of 1340 which accuse a reeve of causing losses to the lord as a consequence of misguided decisions, rather than through carelessness or incapability. One states that the demesne plough beasts became weak and unable to work 27

Manorial Records of Cuxham, Oxfordshire, circa 1200–1359, ed. by Paul D. A. Harvey, Oxfordshire Record Society, 50 (London: HMSO, 1976), p. 679. 28

For discussion of this presentment, see Harvey, Medieval Oxfordshire Village, pp. 65–66; T. H. Aston, ‘The External Administration and Resources of Merton College to circa 1348’, in The History of the University of Oxford, vol. I: The Early Oxford Schools, ed. by J. I. Catto (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), pp. 311–68 (p. 357), where it is observed that an inquest might establish ‘domanial potential’, as well as official misconduct; and David Stone, Decision-making in Medieval Agriculture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 193–94. On Merton’s use of reports on agricultural management, see also Ralph Evans, ‘Whose Was the Manorial Court?’, in Lordship and Learning: Studies in Memory of Trevor Aston, ed. by Ralph Evans (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 155–68 (pp. 157–58).

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because the reeve sold the pasture which was accustomed to support them. Presumably, this sale was intended to advantage the lord, even if its net effect was actually negative. In the other presentment, it is stated that the reeve hired out the demesne dung cart and horses for money, but that this forced the use of plough horses to carry dung outside the manor, with the result that some seigneurial land remained uncultivated. These two entries certainly show a concern with the demesne manager’s decision-making. However, the decisions attracted attention because they led to losses, not because they resulted in a failure to increase profits. The court rolls suggest that financial penalties were not consistently imposed on erring demesne managers. Amercements were noted in the margin of the roll alongside only the Matching presentments and two of the three separate Aldham presentments. The failure to punish reeves for misdeeds reported in the manor court probably reflects a recognition by both villagers and lord that it might be difficult or counterproductive to try to exact court amercements from an influential official.29 Where amercements were imposed, however, the sums were significant. The Matching reeve was amerced a total of 21s. 2d., while amercements of 50s. and 6s. 8d. were imposed on the Aldham reeve in 1274 and 1280. It is possible to interpret the presentment evidence as indicative of the effectiveness of the demesne management system. Manor court presentments containing complaints against officials were rare. Enquiries leading to outright criticism of a reeve, bailiff, or serjeant have been found in just five of the twenty-five sets of rolls investigated. This could be taken to show that officials usually acted in the interests of their lords. Also, the striking level of detail that jurors gave when misdeeds of officials were reported perhaps indicates that lords could rely on local villagers to act as their eyes and ears. Yet there are other ways of explaining why presentments of this kind were uncommon. Presentments in response to special seigneurial enquiries were rare because lords tended not to make such enquiries. That lords did not often consult their tenants in this way does not prove that it was unnecessary because their managers were generally effective. It is just as likely that lords rarely resorted to special enquiries because experience showed they could not expect to get reliable and impartial information from their tenants. The leading villagers responsible for making the presentments usually had no incentive to voice criticisms of demesne managers, and of reeves in particular. The reeve was often a powerful and well-connected individual within village society. As long as his actions did not directly disadvantage

29

Cf. Harvey, Medieval Oxfordshire Village, pp. 69–70.

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the tenants rather than their lord, many jurors would naturally have been wary of antagonizing the reeve by reporting things which might have led to him suffering a heavy amercement. Lords perhaps knew this and chose only to consult their tenants about a manager’s performance as a last resort. Some juries actively defended a fellow tenant official against specific accusations that he had acted against his lord’s interests, as at Coltishall and Heacham. A member of such a jury may well have hoped that this protective attitude would be remembered by former reeves if the juror came to take his turn in the reeveship and found himself under pressure from the lord. There was probably sufficient incentive to attack a demesne manager only when the jurors felt that the manager was acting against the interests of the influential tenants and that they could speak out publicly against him without fear of reprisal. This is perhaps why jurors were most prepared to make critical presentments against non-resident salaried officials, a description that is almost certainly correct for John Frer at Landbeach and for John Meyster and Nicholas de Berner at Kipton. The people who composed presentment juries were probably less able to profit indirectly from a non-resident bailiff’s embezzlement of seigneurial property, since, as Meyster’s case above shows, that property often found its way outside the village. Jurors therefore may have been more willing to condemn the frauds of non-resident bailiffs and serjeants than those of reeves. Also, the bailiff or serjeant was probably a less dangerous man to antagonize, because he lacked a reeve’s local connections.

After the Black Death: Great Eversden In the final quarter of the fourteenth century, demesne farming struggled in the face of falling prices for agricultural commodities and rising labour costs. Given these pressures, an incompetent, dishonest, or inefficient reeve or bailiff was an even greater threat to the successful and profitable exploitation of a demesne than had been the case before 1349. One might therefore expect lords in this period to have been increasingly keen to consult local juries on the performance of demesne managers. Even so, the quantity of relevant presentments in the court rolls of Great Eversden is surprising.30 This material covering the period 1385 to 1398 provides an exceptional opportunity to investigate the relationships between a lord, his official, and the village leadership. Great Eversden lies six miles south-west of Cambridge. Arable land covered most of the area of Great and Little Eversden parishes 30

CUL, Queens’ College Archive, Box 11. Hereafter, court sessions are referenced by date only.

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at this time. No boundary between the two adjacent parishes was observed with respect to manorial organization or landholding. The parishes contained two large common arable fields, which were subdivided into eight furlongs. Eversden also contained a manorial wood and small amounts of meadow and common pasture.31 It appears that in this period the entirety of the two parishes was administered jointly through a single manor court by a group of Eversden lords. The most important was Sir William Castleacre, who became lord of Eversden’s principal manor in 1382.32 His predecessor, Sir Edmund Walsingham, had fled the destruction of his manor house during the rising of June 1381 and was later executed at Ely by rebels. It is not known for certain whether Eversden residents participated in the 1381 disturbances in their village. The record of the relevant judicial commission names only the leader of the Eversden attack, John Pepir of Linton.33 Nonetheless, it is possible that the enquiries concerning the Eversden demesne took place against a background of tenant hostility and suspicion towards their lords. Ten of the twenty-eight documented court sessions heard presentments about the bailiff or his staff. Pending enquiries are mentioned in the rolls of a further three sessions. Several lengthy presentments, which were clearly answers to specific enquiries, are interspersed with shorter reports which may represent responses to a routine article. The presentments were all made by inquest juries composed of leading tenants identifiable from the court rolls and a contemporary rental.34 Five different bailiffs were reported on: John Freburne, John Marys, William Warde, Robert Pantyre, and William Gybbe. No bailiff appears in the court rolls who was not also the subject of a presentment regarding his conduct. Freburne appears to have served at least twice as bailiff, since he was presented against in 1385 and 1399. He is the only bailiff about whose background anything can be gleaned. When in 1398 Castleacre brought an assize of novel disseisin against those he claimed had deforced him from lands in Eversden and elsewhere, one of the

31

Victoria County History, Cambridgeshire, ed. by Louis F. Salzman and others, 10 vols (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1938–2002) (hereafter VCH Cambs), V , 59–63; Susan Oosthuizen, Landscapes Decoded: The Origins and Development of Cambridgeshire’s Medieval Fields (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2006), pp. 46–67. 32

VCH Cambs, V , 61.

33

W. M. Palmer, ‘Records of the Villein Insurrection in Cambridgeshire’, East Anglian, n.s., 6 (1896), 81–84, 97–102, 135–39, 167–72, 209–12, 234–37, 243–47 (pp. 168, 211–12) (an abstract of TNA: PRO, JUST 1/103). 34

CUL, Queens’ College Archive, Box 15, no. 67 (undated rental probably c. 1382, which names Castleacre as lord of Eversden’s principal manor).

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defendants was one John Freberne of Wilbraham (about ten or eleven miles ENE of the Eversdens).35 This hints that the Eversden bailiffs were brought in from elsewhere. In the two earliest special enquiries into the bailiff’s actions, indication is given of the nature of the lord’s questions to the jury. In January 1385, the jury had to report whether ‘in the past year the husbandry was carried out as it should be, and whether the seed was sown at a fitting and seasonable time, and whether the lord’s servants perform their service and labour as they ought to, and whether any of them are wanderers or absent’.36 At the next session, in September 1385, the jurors were required to report ‘in what way the lord’s husbandry was carried out in the time of John Marys, the lord’s bailiff’.37 These entries suggest that even the special enquiries were quite broad in character. Virtually all the reports on the bailiffs describe an act of incompetence or negligence which caused a loss for the lord. Many presentments detail the misdeeds of the lesser farm servants, such as the granger and ploughman. Yet even in entries where the immediate failing was a servant’s, the jurors were keen to stress the bailiff’s ultimate responsibility, as supervisor. The misdeeds described are diverse, but an important category concerns the feeding of the demesne animals. Sometimes the problem was that the beasts had received insufficient sustenance. For example, one of several charges made against Robert Pantyre in 1395 was that at the time of the Lenten sowing, he had ridden to Bedfordshire and before departing had provided no seed for the ploughman or fodder for the stots, carthorses, oxen, and pigs. Left thus unprovided for three nights, the beasts had suffered greatly.38 At other times, the problem was that the animals had received the wrong sort of fodder. Thus in 1387, the jurors stated that an ox had died because it had many times been given large quantities of barley and drage to eat.39 Obviously, feeding premier brewing grains to a plough beast was a highly wasteful use of resources. But it is also plausible that such an inappropriately rich diet had indeed caused illness and death in the animal.40 35 Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II, vol. 271–72. 36

10 January 1385.

37

28 September 1385.

38

3 April 1395.

39

26 January 1387.

40

VI:

1396–1399 (London: HMSO, 1927), pp.

Normally, the feeding of oxen involved only oats, hay, straw, and pasture: John Langdon, ‘The Economics of Horses and Oxen in Medieval England’, Agricultural History Review, 30 (1982), 31–40 (p. 32).

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No presentment points to an inadequately efficient managerial decision, as opposed to basic carelessness or incompetence. The Eversden jurors were not chastising the bailiff for failing to make the demesne more profitable. This is perhaps unsurprising. An important objective of demesne cultivation in these years appears to have been the provisioning of the seigneurial residence. A 1397 inventory of William Castleacre’s possessions at the manor house suggests that he and his household enjoyed high levels of consumption, much of which was clearly sustained by the demesne. The inventory lists, among many other items, 140 quarters of malt, 100 capons, and 38 geese.41 Several court roll presentments also hint at the bailiff’s role in provisioning the household, such as those which concern his failure to make enough malt to maintain the supply of ale. Generating cash income from sales was not the bailiffs’ main priority. A connected point is that the presentments reveal close seigneurial control over the bailiff. Several state that the bailiff had been told what to do, presumably by the lord, but had failed to carry out his instructions properly. For example, in April 1391 the jurors said that William Warde had been ordered to sow ‘mixed drage’ upon the lord’s land in the previous year. In the event, however, William sowed ‘barley moderately mixed with oats’. This, the jurors said, resulted in a great weakening and deterioration of the land.42 Presumably, the lord’s instructions to the bailiff were known to the jurors because they were stated publicly in the manor court. The Eversden bailiffs suffered financially as result of the presentments against them. Up to 1391, monetary sums were entered in the margin of the court roll beside each individual offence. These sums were sometimes preceded by the phrase ‘damages adjudged to the lord’. Some of the sums were significant. For example, the entry concerning William Warde described above is accompanied by the note that damages of 26s. 8d. were adjudged to the lord. The lengthy presentments dated 1395 to 1398 list the bailiff’s misdeeds, and then conclude that ‘the auditors shall provide for this upon the account’.43 That phrase presumably means that a decision would be made at the audit about the sum to be charged against the bailiff. The Eversden material is suggestive of the problems faced by the demesne farming system by the end of the fourteenth century. The jurors’ criticisms of the bailiffs are numerous and severe. If their accusations are to be believed, it seems that all five bailiffs of the period made basic errors. These errors were made even

41

Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous, 8 vols (London: HMSO, 1916–2003), VI, 97–98.

42

18 April 1391.

43

3 April 1395, 27 September 1396, 19 March 1398.

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though the officials received clear instructions from their superior. The Eversden demesne appears to have been run in a strikingly incompetent fashion. However, one must also take into account the priorities of the leading villagers who made the presentments. They were not neutral reporters of fact about the bailiffs. Unlike their pre-plague counterparts, the Eversden jurors made no effort to defend the demesne manager against seigneurial pressure. If anything, these jurors appear to have made their presentments as critical and comprehensive as possible. On the face of it, it seems that the village elite was doing all it could to help the lord monitor his demesne manager. Yet it is equally likely that the villagers attacked the bailiffs as an indirect way of undermining the lord and destabilizing the regime of demesne management. The jurors’ aim was perhaps to weaken each bailiff’s position through a combination of repeated public criticism and financial penalties, so that it would eventually become impossible to find anyone willing to manage the Eversden demesne. The ultimate objective may have been to hasten the abandonment of direct management. The villeins among the leading villagers may have been especially keen to precipitate this change, since their holdings still owed labour services on the lord’s land.44 They may have hoped to bring about an end to the exaction of these services following a lease of the demesne.

Conclusion This discussion of presentments on the performance of demesne managers has offered an illustration of Dyer’s arguments concerning the power of the peasant elite. When trying to monitor the actions of the agents in charge of their demesnes, some medieval landlords demanded that reports about those agents should be made in the manor court by leading villagers. In some instances, this device perhaps functioned well as a means of monitoring local managers. Reeves, bailiffs, and serjeants may have been driven to perform better by knowing that any slackness or abuses of office would be reported to the lord. Potentially, too, the presentments could help a lord decide whether to change the management personnel on a particular manor, though the information the lord received was normally restricted to the official’s honesty and basic competence and rarely commented on his record in obtaining returns from the demesne. Nonetheless, use of manor court presentment may sometimes have helped the demesne farming system work smoothly from the seigneurial perspective.

44

For labour services see the rental of c. 1382, and a court roll acknowledgement of 10 January 1385 by villein John Hunte of the services by which he held his land.

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What is most striking, though, is the degree of influence that was handed to village jurors whenever a lord attempted to monitor demesne managers through the manor court. Ultimately, the lord was almost wholly dependent on what the jurors decided to report. If the jurors reported ‘all well’ about a demesne manager who was in fact stealing from his lord or chose to exaggerate the failings of a generally competent manager, there was little that a lord or his steward could do to detect or punish their misrepresentations. It is unlikely that the jurors presented their reports solely with the interests of the lord in mind. What the leading villagers decided to present about a particular reeve or bailiff was probably shaped most by the way in which his management style affected their own interests. Whether the village elite would be likely to protect a manager against the lord or attack him via a critical presentment was in part determined by the nature of the manager’s personal connections and influence within the village. In this respect, the position of the tenant reeve was rather different to that of the bailiff or serjeant brought in from outside, and this is reflected in the presentments. The presentment evidence is the product of conflicting agendas and cannot be read as an objective guide to the performance of medieval farm managers. Yet even allowing for this, some basic contrasts between the pre– and post–Black Death material discussed here remain striking. These features undoubtedly reveal something about broad changes in the effectiveness of the demesne farming system, in the sense of the degree to which local managers ran demesnes successfully on behalf of their lords. The Eversden reports are exceptional in the frequency and depth with which they point to the shortcomings of the bailiffs. Even so, it is unlikely that manor court records from the earlier fourteenth century will be identified which contain condemnations of managerial standards that are anywhere near as full and consistent as those from Eversden. Certainly, none of the twenty-five preplague court roll series examined here comes close. This essay therefore gives support to the view that it had become harder at the end of the fourteenth century than at its beginning to find demesne managers who had both the skills and resolve to take on the increasingly difficult task of running a demesne.45 A ‘crisis of management’ may well have hastened the demise of demesne farming.

45

Stone, Decision-making, pp. 216–24, 229–30.

C ONFRONTATION AND N EGOTIATION IN A M EDIEVAL V ILLAGE: A LREWAS BEFORE THE B LACK D EATH Jean Birrell

T

here was a long history of English peasant resistance to the demands of manorial lords by the time of the Great Rising of 1381; it can be traced well back into the thirteenth century and it intensified in the fourteenth. Two recent studies focusing on the first half of that century nicely demonstrate two typical forms this resistance took. Peter Franklin, discussing what he calls ‘a pre-1381 movement’ on the Earl of Gloucester’s manor of Thornbury (Gloucestershire) in a period of ‘aggressive lordship’, notes above all the refusal of labour services, or their poor performance, together with other refusals, for example to attend the manor court to which all unfree tenants owed suit.1 Miriam Müller has written about the aims and organization of what she calls a ‘revolt’ at Badbury (Wiltshire), where, in 1348, the tenants banded together to form a fighting fund to finance legal action against their lord, Glastonbury Abbey, in an attempt to prove that their manor was ‘ancient demesne’ and that they therefore enjoyed special protection.2 The manor court rolls for the preceding years record numerous disputes over the services demanded from the tenants; Müller singles out heriot and entry fines as flashpoints. 1

Peter Franklin, ‘Politics in Manorial Court Rolls: The Tactics, Social Composition, and Aims of a pre-1381 Peasant Movement’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Zvi Razi and Richard Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 162–98. More generally, see Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (repr. London: Routledge, 2003 with a new introduction by Christopher Dyer; originally published 1973). 2

Miriam Müller, ‘The Aims and Organisation of a Peasant Revolt in Early FourteenthCentury Wiltshire’, Rural History, 14 (2003), 1–20 (pp. 12–13).

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Many of these features can also be observed on the manor of Alrewas (Staffordshire) at the same period, but there were some important and significant differences. First, in the nature of the manor: Alrewas formed part of a small knightly estate, having been held of the Crown by successive members of the Somerville family since 1204. Further, as well as sporadic resistance to seigneurial demands, revealed in the manor court rolls, the tenants of Alrewas are shown to have been negotiating with their lord in the lead-up to the reissue, at Michaelmas 1341, of a custumal in which seigneurial dues were recorded.3 As well as throwing light on lord-peasant relations on this manor, these negotiations raise more general questions about peasant attitudes to manorial documents at this period, as well as about the role of custumals in the manorial economy. I will look first at a few concrete examples of the tensions and resistance at Alrewas, concentrating on the 1330s and 1340s, then examine the 1341 custumal in more detail, before, finally, briefly discussing some of the more general issues raised. Alrewas was a large manor, containing three hamlets in addition to the main village. Unusually for Staffordshire, it had a substantial majority of unfree tenants: the rental/custumal of 1341 records over one hundred ‘customary tenants of base tenure’, a few ‘free tenants by charter’, nine ‘free sokemen’, and a handful of cottagers. However, and in this it was more typical of the county, money rent was predominant and rents and services generally light.4 Nevertheless, the manorial court rolls provide ample evidence of tensions surrounding seigneurial demands on the manor and of resistance to them by the customary tenants.5 As at Thornbury, 3

The rental is London, British Library, MS Stowe 880, fols 28–35, and has been published in translation: ‘An Alrewas Rental of 1341’, ed. by Jean Birrell and Dick Hutchinson, in A Medieval Miscellany, Collections for a History of Staffordshire, 4th series, 20 (Stafford: Staffordshire Record Society, 2004), pp. 59–81. There is a Latin transcript prepared by Christine Kelly in the William Salt Library, Stafford: Transcripts 73, Box 1. 4 Rodney Hilton, ‘Lord and Peasant in Staffordshire in the Middle Ages’, in The English Peasantry in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), pp. 215–43; Christopher Dyer, ‘The West Midlands’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. II: 1042–1350, ed. by Herbert E. Hallam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 660–75 (pp. 665–66); Jean Birrell, ‘Medieval Agriculture’, in Victoria County History, Staffordshire, vol. VI, ed. by M. W. Greenslade and D. A. Johnson (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1979), pp. 1–48, especially pp. 24–30. 5

The court rolls are in the Staffordshire Record Office: DO3 (W ). They survive from 1258, and in an almost complete series from 1327 into the fifteenth century: Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Razi and Smith, p. 617. See Christine Kelly, ‘The Court Rolls of Alrewas’ (unpublished MA thesis, University of Durham, 1970); there is a copy of the thesis in the William Salt Library, Stafford, with Latin transcripts of the fourteenth-century court rolls: Thesis 13;

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there were refusals by individual tenants or small groups to perform specific services such as suit of mill and suit of court and, most notably on this manor, the provision of ale to the lord, a requirement imposed on customary tenants.6 There were also sporadic disputes surrounding the single labour service demanded, a seasonal mowing service: it was refused by a score of tenants in 1334, by over thirty in 1345, and the subject of a rather obscure protest involving all the customary tenants of the hamlet of Edingale in 1342.7 In all these cases, it is notable that the protesters included the ‘elite’ of the manor, that is, tenants of virgates and half virgates, and men who served regularly on juries empanelled by the manorial court; all of them paid a price for their actions in amercements imposed in that court. It has been suggested that in regions such as Staffordshire, where rents and services were generally light, manorial lords attempted to compensate by exploiting the exercise of lordship.8 Philip de Somerville would certainly seem to fall into this category. Further, we know that he was hard up at this period, to the point where the manor was briefly confiscated for non-payment of part of the annual farm.9 Though the sums demanded as customary payments might often be small individually, they were valuable to the lord cumulatively; conversely, they could be a heavy burden on tenants, and one that fell on them in an arbitrary fashion, making them more difficult to cope with and more disliked. At Alrewas, for example, Philip was raising cash from the custom governing the election of the chief manorial officer,

Transcripts 73, Boxes 1–3. I henceforward cite these as ‘Kelly Transcripts’ when referring to the court rolls, but also give the date of the court. 6

For refusals of ale, see Kelly Transcripts, pp. 300 (13 March 1333), 468–69 (2 September 1335), 491 (25 November 1335), 524 (1 June 1336), 673 (8 August 1338), 720–21, 726 (10 July, 21 August 1339), 875 (10 January 1342), 916–17 (9 September 1342), 985–86, 998–99 (17 April, 29 May 1344, where the custom is stated), 1019 (11 September 1344); see also Helena Graham, ‘A Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry: Alrewas, Staffordshire, in the Fourteenth Century’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Birmingham, 1994), pp. 76, 89; and for other refusals to perform services at this period, p. 88. 7

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 402–23 (10 September 1334), 916, 919 (7 and 28 September 1342); see also Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 90–91. 8

Hilton, ‘Lord and Peasant in Staffordshire’, pp. 230–37; see also Birrell, ‘Medieval Agriculture’, pp. 28–30. 9

The distraint, probably October 1339–August 1340, is revealed in the contemporary court rolls (the reasons are spelled out after the restoration of the manor); though the sheriff appears to have presided at these courts, at least one amercement was pardoned at Philip’s request: Kelly Transcripts, p. 757 (23 May 1340). There appears to have been another earlier distraint: Kelly Transcripts, p. 192 (21 July 1330).

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the reeve, an office to which all the customary tenants were liable. The practice at this period was for the customary tenants to propose, every autumn, two names from among their number; the lord chose one, the other then fined not to serve. In the 1330s Philip was demanding high sums from the rejected candidates: 6s., 6s. 8d., 8s., and even a mark.10 Two incidents suggest a degree of resentment regarding this custom. At the October 1333 manor court, ‘the community of customary tenants of Alrewas, except the eight freemen and except the cottars’ put forward the names of a cottager and a free sokeman, that is, one man from each of the two categories not bound to serve as reeve, an act of subversion for which they were amerced the sum of £2.11 Six years later, in 1339, they proposed two free sokemen.12 These were surely acts of defiance. The tenants could hardly have forgotten what the custom was; they had excellent, even if selective, memories on this manor, as we will see, and a strong sense of their own history and of precedent. Another obvious source of tension at Alrewas was heriot, or death duty — which had been, we may remember, one of the flashpoints at Badbury, at very much the same time. Heriot was a profitable source of income to the lord of Alrewas: the forty heriots collected in the five years 1327–32 brought in over £8, the ten collected in the accounting year 1341–42 nearly £1 15s.13 As elsewhere in Staffordshire, heriot at Alrewas extended to more than the deceased tenant’s best beast: male horses, pigs, and beehives were also liable (the second best beast went to the church as mortuary); thus on the death of a half-virgater in 1335 Philip took a cow as heriot, with three pigs, and on that of a virgater in 1343 a cow together with a young male horse and several beehives.14 Unusually, heriot was also taken from persons who held no land from the lord, but died on his land, in which case it usually took the form of a garment, often of negligible value. A tunica debilis taken in 1340, and shared with the church, was valued at 2d. — no sum was too small to escape the vigilance of the Alrewas officials.15 Philip was clearly trying to maximize his income from heriot, the tenants both to resist any extension of it and to evade payment by various stratagems. Disputes were common, usually turning on eligibility. No doubt partly as a result, a degree 10

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 207 (26 October 1331), 419 (12 November 1334), 618 (18 October 1337), 687 (31 October 1338), 850 (6 October 1341). 11

Kelly Transcripts, p. 340 (30 October 1333).

12

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 730–31 (9 October 1339).

13

Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 52–54.

14

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 462 (22 July 1335), 948 (30 August 1343).

15

Kelly Transcripts, p. 771 (12 August 1340).

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of formality had developed around the death of customary tenants. Executors made regular appearances in court. A jury of neighbours was routinely empanelled to certify what animals a deceased tenant possessed and which of them were due to the lord — the phrase ‘and no more by oath of the neighbours’ frequently occurs. References to the ‘fraud’ of tenants in this context appear in the court rolls. For example, tenants often tried to minimize heriot by disposing of animals before death. Thus, in 1341, on the death of a cottager, when the lord had taken (a notional) half heifer as heriot and a beehive had ‘remained with the land’ according to custom, it emerged that a second beehive had been sold by the cottager to his son when he had first fallen ill. This, declared the steward, was fraud, and 6d. was taken in lieu.16 The complex land transactions that were common among the tenants of this manor, and the second marriages that were also frequent, often lay behind other disputes about eligibility for heriot. The lord did not always have it his own way. In 1338 it was ruled in the manor court that a suckling male foal he claimed should ‘go with its mother’, and thus stay with the heir.17 In 1339, when a quarter of a bullock was claimed on the death of a woman who had held jointly with her husband, an inquisition, having scrutinized the court rolls, found that by custom the lord took nothing from a deceased wife when her husband was still living.18 However a ruling in October 1341, after the death of another wife who held with her husband, suggests that Philip was determined to have his way: in this case the best beast was to remain with the husband, but the third best was to go to the lord because the woman had held a cottage of base tenure of the lord in chief (the second best beast went to the vicar).19 Unusually, the entry goes on to note that the beast was sold coram dominum, suggesting Philip’s presence in court; the ruling is then repeated in a sentence that begins ‘Thus the lord took seisin of that heriot’ and ends ‘without disturbance or disputation’ (sine perturbacione scilicet disputacio); it is noted, finally, that it had been 16

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 814–15 (21 April 1341); see also Kelly Transcripts, p. 208 (26 October 1331). 17

Kelly Transcripts, p. 688 (31 October 1338).

18

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 701–02 (2 January 1339); see also pp. 743, 747 (4 February, 18 March 1340). Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 219–20. Joint tenure between husband and wife was becoming a common way of avoiding heriot, since none was normally due on the first death: Richard Smith, ‘Women’s Property Rights under Customary Law: Some Developments in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 36 (1986), 165–94 (p. 191). 19

Kelly Transcripts, p. 856 (6 October 1341); see also Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 220–21.

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agreed ‘before the lord and his council’ that this custom should not extend to the nine free sokemen unless ‘their wife hold a hearth of base tenure’. The manor court emerges as an arena in which reluctance on the part of the customary tenants to accept certain demands of the lord surfaced and was recorded, and in which sworn juries declared custom, in a way that may or may not have been acceptable to the lord. Another aspect of relations between Sir Philip and his tenants at this period, which would otherwise have gone unrecorded, is revealed by the rental of 1341: it shows a community of tenants unafraid of manorial documentation and capable of demonstrating some skill in negotiating with the lord, even if, in the end, there were strict limits to what they could achieve; the tenants also emerge as very aware of their own history. This rental incorporates a custumal, that is, the services and customs owed by each category of tenants are described in detail after they have been listed with their rents. The section relating to the unfree tenants is preceded by two paragraphs of a type that it is rare to find included in a manorial survey and which, among other things, explain its origins. The custumal, they tell us, was compiled as a way of resolving disputes and at the request of the tenants; in other words, it was not simply a ‘management decision’.20 The first of these two paragraphs begins, ‘In the name of God, Amen. Whereas various disagreements and disputes (dissensione et rixe) have often arisen between the steward [and] bailiffs of lord Philip de Somerville [. . .] and the tenants of base tenure of that manor [. . .] with regard to differences and uncertainties as to certain customs’; the former, it goes on, have been demanding ‘other customs from the tenants, claiming [. . .] them to be true and customary’, the latter that they were ‘unjustly and newly exacted’. What is unusual here is the openness about discord in a manorial document of this type, that is, a document drawn up by the lord, part of what might be called the seigneurial discourse. The language may be familiar from other types of record, such as court records, where tenants are allowed to put their case; it is less common in a manorial survey. Judgements in the manor court regarding the ‘profits’ due to the lord, the paragraph continues, by the suitors and by inquisitions had been variously (varie) recorded and unsatisfactory; the tenants had therefore petitioned their lord — and here the language, as it were, changes gear, suddenly becoming almost adulatory — ‘trusting in his faith as a good lord, and because he has governed the manor amicably and graciously these last forty years and more’ (Philip had first been assigned the manor in 1300, so this is pretty accurate), and because he has ‘more knowledge than anyone else living of the certainty of the customs of the tenants’. 20

For the rental, see note 3 above.

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This is strange for several reasons. First, it seems at odds with what has gone before. But of course the disagreements and disputes had not been between the tenants and Philip, but between the tenants and Philip’s officials. Are we to believe that Philip had not known what was happening? It seems unlikely. He was not an absentee landlord. The Somervilles had a residence at their manor of Wychnor, just across the River Trent from Alrewas, and we know that Philip was often there. He was active in Staffordshire politics and also a presence in Alrewas itself, often appearing in the manor court, although, like most manor courts, it was presided over by his steward.21 He made regular appearances in the 1330s, that is, in the years immediately preceding the compilation of the rental. So this distinction between the ‘good lord’ and his officials must be a convenient fiction. In fact, it is a common one; it was made, for example, by the tenants of Bocking (Essex) when they petitioned their lord, the prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, about the ‘other services and customs than they are bound to render’ that were being demanded by the steward.22 The language used at this point in the Alrewas custumal is what might be called the language of good lordship; it conveys a picture of harmony on a manor that is wisely ruled by its good lord; these are words any lord of the manor would have liked to hear, even if they seem strangely at odds with the preceding sentences.23 What did the tenants ask Philip to do? To ‘cause to be set down in writing’ all the customs and services, so that they should ‘be remembered in perpetuity, and for the greatest advantage of the lord and his successors, avoiding danger to the souls of either party’. In other words, we are told that the custumal had been compiled at the tenants’ request, but a request formulated in a way that made it as easy as possible for Philip, that wise and good lord, to agree to it. This is where, it seems to me, the tenants had been clever in their negotiation; they got what they wanted, but in a way that allowed Philip to save face. Perhaps they could afford to be generous, having already got a reference to their own role into the document, earlier in the paragraph.

21

Kelly, ‘Court Rolls of Alrewas’, pp. 2–3. Further, he had a number of bastard children who make appearances at the Alrewas manor court in the 1340s and 1350s, described openly as such: Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 95–99. 22

J. N. Nichols, ‘An Early Fourteenth Century Petition from the Tenants of Bocking to their Manorial Lord’, Economic History Review, 2 (1929–30), 300–07. 23

For ‘the rhetoric of legitimation’ in the preambles to Spanish fueros, see Isabel Alfonso, ‘La Rhétorique de légitimation seigneuriale dans les Fueros de León (X Ie – XIIIe siècles)’, in Pour une anthropologie du prélèvement seigneurial dans les campagnes médiévales (XIe– XIV e siècles): les mots, les temps, les lieux, ed. by Monique Bourin and Pascual Martínez Sopena (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2007), pp. 229–52.

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This is interesting in a number of ways. In the first place, peasants are traditionally supposed to be deeply suspicious of manorial documents, which were compiled by the lord and which could be, and were, used against them, a suspicion which can be extended to apply more generally to all writing. Of course, it has increasingly been shown that peasant attitudes to writing were by this period ambivalent and discriminating, rather than universally hostile. Here, however, things seem to go a stage further: the tenants appear to have taken the initiative and to be trying to use a manorial document for their own ends. Manorial surveys had a long history, and there was a recognized procedure for compiling them. It was not to rely on the memory of the lord or of his officials, but rather to empanel sworn jurors from the manor to assist those officials by declaring custom.24 This had the advantage, of which estate administrators were well aware, of giving the document a degree of legitimacy. (We should not forget, however, that the jurors were usually answering questions put to them, which imposed strict limits on what they could say; surveys remain essentially records of the obligations of tenants to lords.)25 It was also common practice to draw on previous surveys. And this, in a sense, is what happens here, except that the document references not an earlier survey but a royal writ, as we see from the second, much shorter, paragraph. This begins, ‘Whereas Roger de Somerville, knight, lord of Alrewas, my great-grandfather, in the 26th year of the reign of King Henry [1241/42] oppressed (vexavit) his tenants of Alrewas, by which great discord arose between them’. What is unexpected here is not just the further open reference to discord but such strongly expressed criticism of a specific lord of the manor, identified by name, and an ancestor of the present lord, even if he had died almost a century before (this

24

Paul Harvey, Manorial Records, Archives and the User, 5, rev. edn (London: British Records Association, 1999), pp. 15–24. For an early use of sworn inquests, see Charters and Custumals of the Abbey of Holy Trinity Caen, ed. by Marjorie Chibnall, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, n.s., 5 (London: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. xxxii–xxxiii. 25

Marjorie Morgan, The English Lands of the Abbey of Bec (London: Oxford University Press, 1946), pp. 75, 82, 90. On the Merton College estate, the warden and fellows entertained the ‘worthy or good men of the locality or township’ at just about the time new surveys were being drawn up: Ralph Evans, ‘Whose Was the Manorial Court?’, in Lordship and Learning: Studies in Memory of Trevor Aston, ed. by Ralph Evans (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 155–68, esp. p. 165. This article also contains a useful discussion of the way the business of manorial courts was recorded. See also Accounts and Surveys of the Wiltshire Lands of Adam de Stratton, ed. by M. W. Farr, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, Records Branch, 14 for the year 1958 (Devizes: Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1959), p. xxv, for the use of a set of prepared articles of enquiry.

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Roger, who was Philip’s great-grandfather, probably died in 1249 — the memory is again accurate), and that this criticism should go uncorrected. ‘In the end’, the paragraph continues, ‘the tenants obtained a writ of monstraverunt from the king [. . .] and [. . .] it was proved by an inquisition of the neighbourhood that [they] were bound to do the service and customs written below as appears by the writ which follows.’ Alrewas had been in the king’s hands at the time of Domesday Book and remained so until granted to the Somervilles in 1204; this would appear to be a very early case of tenants using the writ monstraverunt to claim the protection of ancient demesne.26 No contemporary record of the case appears to survive, but we know that the dispute dragged on. The Curia Regis Rolls for October 1243 record a case brought by a group of ‘men of Alrewas’ (over thirty men and women are named) who sought redress because their lord, Sir Roger de Somerville, had evicted them from their tenements, which were ‘the king’s ancient demesne’ (antiquum dominicum domini regis), even though ‘they were always prepared to do him the customs and services for those lands and tenements which they used to do, and which it was found in the king’s court by an inquisition taken with the agreement both of the said Roger and of the said men of Alrewas that they ought to do’.27 Sir Roger defended himself vigorously. The episode is complicated and merits a longer discussion than is possible here. We may assume, however, that this is the episode referred to in the 1341 rental; the writ/inquisition does not survive, but it clearly loomed large in the collective memory of Alrewas. Further, it seems to have been remembered by the tenants as a victory, in that it confirmed their customs and put restrictions on the lord’s freedom to change them to their disadvantage. Accounts of lawsuits brought by tenants in which they complain about ‘unjust exactions’ or ‘extortions’ by past lords are sometimes copied into cartularies, but this is usually along with the ultimate judgement in the lord’s favour; in other words the allegations may be repeated, but they are shown to have been unfounded. 26

Exchequer Domesday, fol. 246 (for the Alrewas entry); for a translation, see, for example, Victoria County History, Staffordshire, vol. IV , ed. by L. Margaret Midgley (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1958), p. 39; for issues concerning ancient desmesne, see Paul Vinogradoff, Villeinage in England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1892; reissued 1927), pp. 89–126; Robert S. Hoyt, The Royal Demesne in English Constitutional History: 1066–1272 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1950), p. 134 (for the use by the mid-thirteenth century of the phrase antiquum dominicum domini regis) and ch. 6, esp. pp. 179–80, 199–200; Marjorie K. McIntosh, ‘The Privileged Villeins of the English Ancient Demesne’, Viator, 7 (1976), 295–328. 27

Curia Regis Rolls of the Reign of Henry III, vol. (London: Boydell, 1999), nos 734, 933.

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At Vale Royal, for example, in a long account of a dispute in the fourteenth century recorded in the Ledger Book, the abbot is similarly said to have ‘oppressed’ the bondsmen, but the context of the phrase is quite different from that at Alrewas: the words are put into the mouths of the bondsmen as part of a petition to the king, not repeated as fact, as at Alrewas, and the bondsmen are ultimately shown to have been making a ‘false claim’, engaging in ‘an evil undertaking’ and demonstrating ‘malice and fraud’.28 And in the Ledger Book the distaste for the peasants, called at one point ‘those bestial men’, is patent.29 No such language is used of the peasants of Alrewas. There was hardly ‘parity of esteem’ in the rental — on the one hand there is ‘Philip de Somerville, knight, lord of the manor’, on the other the ‘tenants of base tenure of that manor who in the king’s book called “domesday” are called villeins’ — but no hostile or contemptuous words are used of the latter. Rather, the peasants seem to have managed to get a little of their own voice into the custumal, as well as their version of the 1240s struggle, both recorded for posterity. Perhaps it is not fanciful to suggest that the peasants are here trying to construct memory at the same time as gain certain practical benefits. The insertion of these two paragraphs into the rental is clumsily done and may be a mark of a relatively unsophisticated seigneurial administration. As is well known, the vast majority of manorial documents survive from big estates, especially ecclesiastical estates, which had elaborate administrative machines for such occasions, of a sort unlikely to exist on a small lay estate like that of the Somervilles.30 Sadly, just as we do not know how the tenants negotiated among themselves prior to this agreement, we do not know the precise circumstances in which the wording of the rental was decided and written down, although we know that Sir Philip was in the neighbourhood at the time.31 28

The Ledger-Book of Vale Royal Abbey, ed. by John Brownhill, Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society, 68 (Manchester: Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society, 1914), p. 38; see also pp. 31, 39. 29

Ledger-Book of Vale Royal Abbey, ed. by Brownhill, p. 41.

30

Although we should be careful not to underestimate the sophistication of the administrative apparatus on small estates. See, for example, Richard H. Britnell, ‘Minor Landlords in England and Medieval Agrarian Capitalism’, in Landlords, Peasants and Politics in Medieval England, ed. by Trevor H. Aston (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 227–46, esp. pp. 227–28; originally published in Past and Present, 89 (1980), 3–22 (Britnell also suggests that lesser lords may have been more personally involved). 31

Philip was present at manor courts in August and October: Kelly Transcripts, pp. 837 (4 August 1341), 850 (6 October 1341), 859 (27 October 1341). The rental itself is uninformative as it survives only in a fifteenth-century copy bound into a miscellaneous collection of material

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However that may be, after these two introductory paragraphs, the rental proceeds to describe the customs, with frequent reference to ‘the writ’. (The phrase ‘as it says in the writ’ recurs in the rental in the way that ut dicitur or ut dicunt recur in other surveys.) This writ must be the account of the services previously agreed by the inquisition referred to in the course of the dispute of 1243.32 Could it be that the unusual phrasing of the description of the unfree tenants, more often called in surveys simply ‘base tenants’, ‘neifs’, ‘bondsmen’, or the more neutral ‘customers’, derives from this writ? It is tempting to speculate about the resonance of the phrase ‘customary tenants of base tenure who in “domesday” are called villeins (dicuntur villani)’: it manages to combine a neutral expression (customary tenants), one with negative connotations (base tenure), and one that might well have had positive connotations, that is the reference to Domesday Book; the fact that Alrewas was an ancient demesne manor had been advantageous to the tenants, as we have seen, and we know how peasants elsewhere seized on Domesday Book in the fourteenth century as an emblem of a past freedom, both in ancient demesne lawsuits and more generally.33 There is another reference to ‘domesday’ in the Alrewas records. When, in 1339, the two free sokemen put forward as reeve by the customary tenants were required to prove in court that they were exempt, ‘the great roll in which the domesday of Alrewas is written’ was consulted, in which ‘they are called free sokemen’ (ubi dicuntur liberi sokemanni); scrutiny of this document and ‘other liberties’ of the free sokemen led the court to conclude that they were ‘from time immemorial quit of the office of reeve’. It is difficult to reconcile the document described here with the real Domesday Book, which makes no reference to ‘free sokemen’ in Alrewas, never name their services.34 Perhaps this too was the great writ-inquisition already dealing mainly with the Honour of Tutbury (the Somervilles had connections with the earls of Lancaster, whose castle at Tutbury was only a few miles north of Wychnor). 32

For another use of an inquisition made after a royal writ as a record of customs treasured by tenants, see Lordship and Landscape in Norfolk 1250–1350: Early Records of Holkham, ed. by William O. Hassall and Jacques Beauroy, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, n.s., 150 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). 33

The classic account remains Rosamund Faith, ‘The “Great Rumour” of 1377 and Peasant Ideology’, in The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Rodney H. Hilton and Trevor H. Aston, Past and Present Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 43–73 (esp. pp. 43–66). 34

Although there are some odd echoes, including a reference to one slave (Alrewas had twenty villani, six bordars, and a slave on the demesne in 1086). In the rental the cottagers (coterelli) are ‘called in the book of “domesday” Budell’ (presumably recte bordars), but there is no reference to Domesday in relation to the free sokemen, who are simply ‘liberi sokmanni’.

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referred to, so nicknamed because of its perceived ‘un-alterableness’?35 When the word ‘domesday’ is used of a manorial document that loomed large in the local consciousness elsewhere at this period, for example at Havering and St Albans, it is a manorial survey that is referred to.36 There is space here for only a brief discussion of the custumal itself. It begins with the annual rents due, on which subject it is unequivocal: ‘It says in the writ that each virgate of land [gives] 2s. a year’, before going on to note the higher rents on other land (such as 4s. a virgate for demesne). An annual rent of 2s. is low even by Staffordshire standards;37 it would appear that the protection afforded by the earlier writ had held good and is now confirmed. The treatment of entry fines, in contrast, historically an important element in the lord’s rent income, as they could be changed (unlike fixed annual rents), for example when demand for land was high, is quite different. Here, the rental is vague; the fine on entry to an inheritance is ‘at the will of the lord or his steward’, but should be ‘reasonable’, and it ‘rarely exceeds two marks’. This is not high compared with manors elsewhere at this period; in fact the court rolls suggest that fines at Alrewas, though variable, were more often below than above the two marks specified in the rental (most of those to half virgates were 5s. though they ranged from 2s. to 12s.; fines on virgates were mostly between 15s. and £1, rarely more).38 The rental makes no reference to entry fines on inter vivos land transfers, though these were common and a useful source of income to the lord. Much of the custumal, as already noted, is related to the writ. However it occasionally breaks away from this model, and these departures are revealing. Several are in connection with liability for heriot, which is treated at much greater length than any other service or custom. A first long section, beginning ‘it says in the writ’, describes the heriot due in a variety of circumstances, depending on the livestock the deceased tenant owned. This is followed by what appear to be three recent rulings and a note of a precedent set in a manor court, all addressing the sort of issue of liability that had been the cause of so much debate in that court. They appear to give something to both parties, though with the balance tipping in favour of the lord: 35

Faith, ‘The “Great Rumour”’, p. 58.

36

Ada Elizabeth Levett, Studies in Manorial History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938; repr. London: Merlin Press, 1983), p. 150 (for a similar scrutiny of a custumal known as ‘le Domesday’); see also Marjorie K. McIntosh, Autonomy and Community: The Royal Manor of Havering, 1200–1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 103. 37 38

Dyer, ‘The West Midlands’, p. 665.

Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 221–23, 260–64. See also Dyer, ‘The West Midlands’, p. 667.

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it is stated, for example, that ‘the lord shall have nothing as heriot from a wife dying while her husband lives’, but with a crucial proviso: ‘unless the land comes from the wife’. This section concludes with a description of the principalia, which is related to the writ except with regard to beehives, the disposal of which was the subject of frequent disputes in the manor court; here reference is made to ‘another great indenture made earlier between the lord and tenants’, which suggests a previous separate negotiation.39 We may conclude that the rental, by confirming the fixed annual rent and enshrining certain other definitions, gave the tenants something of crucial importance, although it may not have given them everything they wanted. The interpolated paragraphs show the Alrewas custumal as part of an ongoing negotiation between lord and unfree tenants, in which the tenants were demonstrating some skill. A reading of the court rolls amply supports the idea that these tenants were capable of such negotiation. The community was already acting as a body in a number of capacities, such as administering a chantry in the parish church.40 Many of the customary tenants had ample experience of what one might call public life, having served as jurors of inquiry and presentment, executors, reeves, frankpledges, and bailiffs. This was a community capable of issuing a judgement in the manor court regulating the time scale for the recovery of debts or damages awarded in court.41 It often acted as a body, through the manor court, for the general good, for example, when, unanimi assensu, it granted John the Smith the right to build on a plot of land he had purchased in return for certain commitments regarding access and road surfaces.42 The years before 1341 saw the court as a body becoming increasingly assertive, even self-confident, in relation both to the tenant community as a whole and to the lord. They issued bylaws, for example, and oversaw their implementation, and they took the lord on in court, if with mixed success, over what might be called ‘public interest’ issues.43 In 1337, for example, after ‘many disputes’ between him and ‘all the tenants of the manor’ over a plot of waste land which he wanted to ‘improve’, Philip chose to abandon his plans, appear 39

For an appeal to the ‘great indenture of the customers’ (magnam indenturam custumariarum) in another case concerning beehives, see Kelly Transcripts, pp. 914–15 (7 September 1342). 40

Robert Swanson, ‘Clergy in Manorial Society in Late Medieval Staffordshire’, Staffordshire Studies, 5 (1993), 13–34 (esp. pp. 19–20). 41

Kelly Transcripts, p. 655 (25 April 1338).

42

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 502–03 (17 February 1336).

43

Kelly Transcripts, pp. 391 (30 July 1334), 401–02 (10 September 1334); see also p. 456 (10 June 1335); Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, pp. 82–83, 105–14.

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in court, promise never to improve the plot in future, and ‘surrender all claim to the community’.44 The language of the entry is interesting — it is again that of good lordship: Philip acts not because he has to, but because he is ‘moved by conscience’, and ‘seeing how damaging [were his plans] to his neighbours and tenants’. These fine feelings did not prevent him from demanding from the community a very substantial ‘final concord’ of £2 and an annual rent of 2d. Thus both parties gained something from the eventual settlement. It is a case that manages to encapsulate many aspects of the relations between lord and tenants on this manor at this time; and it puts in context the sophistication of the tenants’ negotiation with their lord preceding the reissue of the custumal of 1341. The Alrewas rental raises interesting questions about manorial surveys in general and custumals in particular. Although surveys are the oldest type of manorial document, they have been relatively little studied for their own sake, much less so than the other two main types of manorial document, accounts and court rolls.45 They have also had something of a bad press among historians. It is true that they can seem, at first sight, rather tedious documents, consisting simply of long lists of tenants and their rents; they lack the obvious excitement of court rolls or account rolls. They can seem to give a very static picture and, worse, one that is quickly out of date, or deceptive, in that, for example, there may be many subtenants who go unmentioned — this is certainly the case at Alrewas, as the court rolls amply demonstrate. Those rentals that contain custumals have been chided for their ‘detailed and pedantic recitals’ and their ‘traditional verbiage’.46 Surveys have generally been seen as drawn up by lords of manors for their own purposes and no doubt they were often compiled with greater efficiency in mind; we know that they often followed the arrival of a new lord or a period of maladministration, and sometimes resulted in an increase in income.47 Their value to tenants has occasionally been noted, and Christopher Dyer has recently emphasized the desirability for tenants

44

Kelly Transcripts, p. 597 (14 June 1337); Graham, ‘Social and Economic Study of the Late Medieval Peasantry’, p. 86; and for other examples of settlements negotiated between the lord and the tenants, ibid., pp. 111, 130–32. 45

Manorial Records of Cuxham, Oxfordshire, circa 1200–1359, ed. by Paul D. A. Harvey, Oxfordshire Record Society, 50 (London: HMSO, 1976), p. 72. 46

The English Manor c. 1200–c. 1500, ed. by Mark Bailey (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), p. 37; Harvey, Manorial Records, p. 20. 47

For example, McIntosh, Autonomy and Community, pp. 36–40; J. Ambrose Raftis, The Estates of Ramsey Abbey (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1957), Appendix A, p. 305.

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of certainty regarding their obligations.48 In fact, interpolated paragraphs revealing previous disputes and negotiations are by no means rare. The Bocking petition referred to above has survived because it was copied into a survey. The custumal for Cakeham, one of the Sussex manors of the Bishop of Chichester, ends with a note of an inquisition in the manor court of 1315 that had found that certain tenants were not liable to a specific service of carting dung, a paragraph omitted from a slightly later version of the same custumal.49 Indeed, custumals are rather more dynamic documents than is sometimes assumed. It might also be helpful to put them in a wider European context. Rodney Hilton observed that the legal definition of fixed custom was the nearest English village communities got to the continental achievement of charters of franchise, although he was careful to warn that lords tended to be more successful than peasants in having their version of custom accepted.50 Some recent studies of chartes de franchise and fueros by French and Spanish historians have paid special attention to the preambles and the language used in them, and the two ‘extraneous’ paragraphs in the Alrewas rental share many of their features.51 Custumals as a genre would surely repay further research with these issues in mind.

48

Christopher Dyer, ‘Memories of Freedom: Attitudes Towards Serfdom in England, 1200–1350’, in Serfdom and Slavery: Studies in Legal Bondage, ed. by Michael L. Bush (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 277–95, esp. pp. 290–91 (Dyer notes that this was a political as well as an economic demand). See also John Hatcher, ‘English Serfdom and Villeinage: Towards a Reassessment’, Past and Present, 90 (1981), 4–39 (p. 9). For ambivalent attitudes to the writing down of customs, see Benoît Cursente, ‘Franchises et prélèvement dans la France des XIIe– XIIIe siècles: la lettre des chartes et la voix des paysans’, in Pour une anthropologie du prélèvement seigneurial, ed. by Bourin and Martínez Sopena, pp. 115–32. 49

Thirteen Custumals of the Sussex Manors of the Bishop of Chichester, trans. and ed. by W. D. Peckham, Sussex Record Society, 31 (Cambridge: Sussex Record Society, 1925), p. 12. See also George C. Homans, English Villagers of the Thirteenth Century (New York: Russell and Russell, 1941; repr. 1960), p. 320. 50 51

Hilton, Bond Men Made Free, p. 89.

Alfonso, ‘La Rhétorique de légitimation seigneuriale dans les Fueros de León’; see also Olivier Guyotjeannin, ‘Les Préambules des chartes de franchises françaises au Moyen Âge’, in Pour une anthropologie du prélèvement seigneurial, ed. by Bourin and Martínez Sopena, pp. 173–95; Cursente, ‘Franchises et prélèvement’.

T HE C ONTROL OF D ISCORD IN F IFTEENTH -C ENTURY C HESTER Jane Laughton

M

edieval Chester, although not large, was the regional capital of England’s north-western plain. With perhaps 4000 or 4600 inhabitants in 1377 and in the range of 3500–4500 in the 1520s, it did not compare with the great regional capitals of York, Bristol, and Norwich, but its status was enhanced by its role as administrative centre of the county palatine, as military base, as premier port of the region, as a market with an extensive hinterland, and as a place of craft manufacture.1 The population swelled as visitors flocked in and out: to trade at the Midsummer and Michaelmas fairs, to find temporary employment as building workers, to conduct official business at the castle, and to set sail for Ireland. The potential for discord was high. The townspeople lived in close proximity, the poorest of them cheek by jowl in squalid accommodation, and competing interests and conflicting loyalties split the urban community into separate social groupings, themselves fragmented on occasion by internal rivalries. Tensions developed between established families and immigrants, between master craftsmen and their journeymen, and between different branches of a family. The presence of outsiders inevitably provoked conflict, and relationships between locals and foreigners were often strained. Feuding country gentlemen and their rival affinities strutted the city streets and caused serious disturbances.

1

C. P. Lewis, ‘Population’, in Victoria County History, Cheshire, vol. V , part 2: The City of Chester, ed. by C. P. Lewis and Alan T. Thacker (Woodbridge: Boydell for the Institute of Historical Research, 2005), pp. 71–72; Jane Laughton, Life in a Medieval City: Chester 1275–1520 (Oxford: Windgather Press, an imprint of Oxbow Books, 2008).

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The control of discord was therefore a primary concern of Chester’s governors. As elsewhere in medieval England, there were contrasting procedures for the maintenance of law and order and the settlement of disputes. The civic authorities issued regulations and attempted to impose order from above; family, friends, and neighbours promoted reconciliation and compromise at grass roots level.2

City Government In the early fifteenth century the city’s government was in the hands of an Assembly which comprised the mayor, two sheriffs, and a body of aldermen known as the Twenty-Four; an additional body of councilmen, the Forty-Eight, appeared c. 1450. The Assembly issued annual ordinances designed to regulate the victualling trades, to protect the urban environment, and to control social behaviour; it used the city courts to enforce its legislation and punish offenders. The principal court in the later medieval period was the portmote, which met every two to three weeks under the presidency of the mayor and with pleas of real estate forming the bulk of its business. The charter of Edward I in 1300 granted the Crown pleas to the citizens, a unique privilege at the time, and the crownmote eventually emerged as a separate court. The sheriffs’ Pentice Court, named from the lean-to building attached to St Peter’s Church in which it was held, was well established by 1288. A century later it met three times a week and dealt with all categories of personal pleas except those concerning real estate: namely debt, trespass, detinue, and broken contract.3 The four principal gates and streets already formed Chester’s administrative subdivisions in the thirteenth century. Responsibility for policing the city then lay with the serjeants of the gates; they made arrests, summoned defendants and jurors, and secured prisoners. By the late fourteenth century policing activities were supervised by sixteen leading property holders, known as custumaries (custumarii), whose duties included guarding condemned felons. Bailiffs assisted the sheriffs by collecting sums of money known as ‘estreats’ from the administrative divisions four times a year. Constables were appointed from c. 1450 and evidently represented the

2 Michael Clanchy, ‘Law and Love in the Middle Ages’, in Disputes and Settlements: Law and Human Relations in the West, ed. by John Bossy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 47–67. 3

Alan T. Thacker, ‘Law Courts’, in VCH, Cheshire, V , part 2, pp. 20–25.

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four main streets, the headings under which their names were listed.4 The authorities had at their command the pillory, located in the central marketplace facing St Peter’s, the town gaol within the Northgate, and the gallows on the eastern boundary of the liberties at Boughton, at the limits of urban jurisdiction. Among the annual by-laws issued by Chester’s governors, as in other towns, were some designed to control disorder.5 Wine taverns and ale cellars were to close at nine at night in both winter and summer, and those who walked the streets after that time were to carry a light. At the start of the sixteenth century a seemingly new civic ordinance required former mayors and sheriffs and all innkeepers, both those with signs and those without, to hang lighted lanterns at their doors until nine at night during the winter months.6 The authorities prohibited gambling and illicit games, considering these pastimes immoral and likely to encourage antisocial behaviour. In the 1480s they forbade attendance at common ales outside the city liberties and in the early sixteenth century extended the ban to include common ales and ‘Welsh weddings’ in the city.7 An ordinance forbidding men from walking the city streets without sufficient means on which to live was included among the earliest surviving orders in 1393; throughout the fifteenth century and beyond the authorities sought to control vagabonds, ordering them to find employment and instructing the townspeople not to give them food and shelter.8 This relentless legislation suggests that the city was strictly governed, but the very fact that the regulations were constantly repeated points to the failure of official efforts at control. In the later fifteenth century numerous offences against Chester’s ordinances were presented at each judicial inquiry heard in ‘full’ portmote in the common hall, by then held at intervals suggesting that they were quarter sessions in all but name. The presentments were made by jurors representing the four administrative divisions, ordinary townsmen well aware of the

4 Alan T. Thacker, ‘Later Medieval Chester’, in Victoria County History, Cheshire, vol. V , part 1: The City of Chester, ed. by C. P. Lewis and Alan T. Thacker (Woodbridge: Boydell for the Institute of Historical Research, 2003), pp. 40–41, 59–60, 62. 5

Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 318–19; Dyer, ‘The Urbanizing of Staffordshire: The First Phases’, Staffordshire Studies, 14 (2002), 1–31 (pp. 26–27). 6

Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies (hereafter CCALS), ZMB 1, fol. 25r; ZMB 2, fol. 19r; ZMB 9(d), fol. 29v . 7

CCALS, ZMB 7, fol. 1r; ZSB 2, fol. 39 v; ZSB 3, fol. 95 r; Rupert H. Morris, Chester in the Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns (printed for the author, Chester, 1894), pp. 334–35. 8

CCALS, ZMB 1, fol. 16r; ZMB 2, fol. 19 v; ZMB 4, fol. 34 r; ZMB 7, fol. 1r.

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discord provoked by men roaming the streets after dark and peering in windows, by alewives who encouraged gambling and drinking after hours, and by councilmen who allowed their cellars to be used by prostitutes. They also knew when accusations were malicious and were concerned to see that those who had been wrongfully accused were pardoned.9 These middle-ranking townsmen also served as jurors in the ‘passage’ court, which heard cases that had not been settled in the Pentice Court. Citizens were liable to jury service until the age of seventy, and juries were carefully selected to ensure that they contained representatives from the four main streets. Each street had an official triator (inspector of juries) who saw that his jurors were correctly chosen and tried, and litigants may have been able to object to a juror whose impartiality they considered suspect.10 Jury service was time-consuming and unrewarded, but it extended responsibility for the control of antisocial behaviour to the middling citizens, thereby helping to bind the community together. Punishment of offences against the city’s ordinances and of breaches of the peace customarily involved monetary fines, the amount perhaps depending on the gravity of the offence or the number of times the person had offended. In 1463 one female brothel-keeper was fined 6s. 8d., whereas other women who kept brothels were fined 3s. 4d., as was an armourer who roamed in locis suspectis after curfew without a light, and a tailor whose negligence caused part of his house to burn down to the consternation of his neighbours. Women who purchased dairy produce en route to the market were fined 1s. or 2s.11 Monetary fines were also imposed in the Pentice Court, and these estreats produced considerable revenues, again recorded under the four main streets. Plaintiffs were fined if they failed to prosecute their plea or if the plea proved to be unjust; defendants were fined if they acknowledged the debt, admitted the charge, or failed to appear; both parties were fined if they reached agreement out of court.12 The authorities do not seem to have made much use of the pillory in the marketplace. It was rented to individual townsmen in the fifteenth century; the two whose names are known were both fishmongers. The city rebuilt the pillory in c. 1461 and built a new shop next to it a year or two later. From the late 1460s rental income from two shops below the pillory was recorded, usually from women

9

CCALS, ZSB 2, fols 25v , 26v , 39v ; ZSB 3, fols 19v , 95r, 96v ; ZSB 4, fols 33r, 53v; ZSB 5, fol. 87r.

10

CCALS, ZSPR 1, ms. 1d , 8d , 16d ; ZMB 5, fol. 103v ; ZMB 7, fol. 1r.

11

CCALS, ZSB 2, fols 25r, 25v, 26v.

12

CCALS, ZSRE 4; ZSRE 5; ZSRE 6.

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who worked in the fish trade. Evidently the structure was raised high above street level close to fish stalls and would have been a humiliating form of punishment.13 There is no record of it being used, and offenders perhaps paid a fine to escape it. The authorities did make use of the Northgate gaol, imprisoning suspected and indicted felons in the dungeons below the gate and lodging debtors in the ‘free house’ above. This was repaired in the early 1460s, in the same year that the new shop was built beside the pillory. The surviving documents record only six individuals who were sentenced to the gallows in the second half of the fifteenth century: a weaver, a shoemaker, two Welshmen, a servant woman, and a female labourer, probably an immigrant.14 Judging from the last four, those without friends and influence in the city, and particularly those who lacked goods and chattels, were perhaps most likely to suffer the ultimate penalty. Defendants who were of some consequence in the community were usually acquitted. Some may have got away with murder; in 1487, for example, a fletcher made an (allegedly) unprovoked attack on a local draper in the street and killed him with a violent blow from his sword. He evidently enjoyed the good opinion of his fellow townsmen, and the crownmote jurors, who included his friends and neighbours, found him not guilty.15

Peace Bonds Chester’s governing body made considerable use of mainprizes, legal instruments which bound individuals or groups of individuals to keep the peace and which were evidently considered an effective method of controlling discord. The mayor supervised the issuing of these peace bonds in the portmote, and in the second half of the fifteenth century this business took up a great deal of his time. In 1487–88 and again in 1490–91, for example, more than three hundred mainprizes were issued.16 Subjects were bound over to keep the peace towards one individual or towards several: towards a man and his wife and servants, towards a group of craftsmen, towards all the people of Chester, or towards all the king’s lieges. Reciprocal peace bonds saw opposing parties bound over, each side agreeing to keep the peace

13 London, British Library, MS Harley 2158, fols 32r, 34v, 36v, 43v, 48v , 49v, 52r, 53r, 56r, 57v, 63r , 63v, 64v. 14

CCALS, ZSB 2, fol. 60v ; ZSB 3, fol. 97v; ZMB 5, fol. 59v; ZMB 7, fol. 153r.

15

CCALS, ZMB 7, fols 75v , 79r.

16

Laughton, Life in a Medieval City, pp. 212–15. Detailed discussion of sureties can be found

there.

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towards the other. The subject of a mainprize had not necessarily committed an offence, but the town governors evidently believed that he or she might offend in the near future. Each subject needed to find three or four men to act as sureties and were normally bound over until a later session of the portmote, when they either found further sureties or were dismissed by proclamation, presumably because the authorities considered that the threat to public order had receded. The ties linking the subject of a mainprize and his sureties can sometimes be detected. Family members, neighbours, and fellow craftsmen commonly undertook the role and doubtless expected reciprocal support in return. The aldermen regularly served as sureties, not only for their own circle but also for middling townsmen, possibly those living in the same quarter of the city. The few councilmen who were named usually acted for people living in the administrative division they represented. The simmering tensions in the urban community can be detected in the laconic court entries: the breakdown in the marriage of a potter and his wife; a trading dispute souring the relationship between two carters; a minstrel’s prejudice towards Spanish merchants. The shoemakers and their journeymen were embroiled in a dispute with the tanners in 1477; the bakers were quarrelling among themselves in the late 1480s. The authorities kept a vigilant watch and attempted to control discord.17 The weaver Henry Rathbone, for example, was bound over in October 1476 to keep the peace towards a young widow, her tenants, and servants; his sureties included two weavers and a shearman. When the mainprize was reissued on 2 December all four sureties were weavers. Six days later Rathbone stole a pewter bowl from the widow, and when he was again bound over on 16 December only one weaver supported him. The theft was presented at the ‘full portmote’ in January 1477, among the Northgate Street entries because the theft had taken place there, and a fine of 12d. was imposed. Rathbone’s name subsequently appeared among the fine-payers from Bridge Street (where he lived), and the weaver who had loyally supported him throughout served as his pledge and guaranteed payment. The tensions between Rathbone and the widow may have developed during the lifetime of her husband, the wealthy draper Roger Ledsham, and perhaps involved occupancy of a shop near the Northgate. Ledsham and then his widow held two shops there, but by the 1490s one was occupied by the draper John Rathbone.18 17 CCALS, ZMB 4, fol. 61r; ZMB 6, fols 50r–51v, 53v, 54r, 158v ; ZMB 7, fol. 142v ; ZMB 8, fol. 73v. 18

CCALS, ZMB 6, fols 41v, 43 r, 43v, 44 v; ZSB 3, fols 67r, 69 r; BL, MS Harley 2158, fols 36v, 38 , 39v . r

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In December 1500 Otiwell Corbet acted as surety for the merchant John Pike and his two sons, mainprized to keep the peace towards Thomas Monning, Robert Bruyn, and father and son Richard and John Walley, all of them involved in overseas trade. A few weeks later John Walley attacked Corbet in the street and cut off two of his fingers, but was himself mortally wounded by the knife Corbet drew in self-defence. This death naturally caused enduring animosity, and Corbet was bound over in March 1502 to keep the peace towards the widow and the father, and towards Robert Bruyn and Thomas Monning. His sureties were the men who acted with him as sureties in 1500. This ongoing feud evidently caused deep divisions within the mercantile community.19 Mainprizes were also used to control discord between townsmen and outsiders. In 1455, for example, tensions arose between prominent citizen Nicholas Monksfield and Robert Bagh, tenant of the Abbot of Dieulacres (Staffordshire) in Dodleston, some four miles south-west of Chester. Monksfield’s family, as the name suggests, originated in the township and continued to hold land there, and Monksfield acted as pledge for the Abbot when the latter attempted to recover rent from his tenant in the Pentice Court. Bagh bitterly resented this, and the following month he was bound over to keep the peace towards Monksfield. Simmering hostilities evidently persisted, and it proved necessary to reissue the mainprize over a number of years, certainly until 1463 and possibly longer. Almost all those who acted as sureties came from Bridge Street, where Monksfield lived, and were either acting in his interests or were perhaps acquaintances of Bagh.20 Peace bonds issued by the crownmote court were different in nature. Subjects of the bonds were either indicted felons or individuals who had been taken on suspicion of felony, and the sureties undertook to produce them at a subsequent court session. At the crownmote held in April 1415 several groups of sureties were said to be holding the indicted felon ‘in bail’, making it explicit that these were bail bonds. In the late 1480s and early 1490s the bonding clause was expressed as corpus pro corpore, which meant (in theory) that if the subject failed to appear the sureties were to take his place.21 The fate of suspected and indicted felons evidently depended upon influence, wealth, and standing within the urban community. In 1477, when a local shearman 19

CCALS, ZMB 9(a), fols 32v –33r, 36 r; ZMB 9(b), fol. 8r.

20 CCALS, ZSR 305, m. 1; ZMB 5, fols 9r, 9v , 11r, 11v, 12r, 30v , 48v, 51r, 53 r, 54v, 78v; The National Archives: Public Record Office (Kew, London; hereafter TNA: PRO), CHES 25/15, m. 13d. 21

CCALS, ZMB 3, fols 18r, 18v , 19r; ZMB 7, fols 74r, 96v .

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and his wife were taken on suspicion of felony and bound over to appear at the next crownmote session, sixteen prominent citizens appeared in person before the mayor in the Pentice and agreed to stand as sureties. Among them were several aldermen and councilmen, and a number of textile workers who may have wanted to support a fellow craftsman. The couple duly appeared in the common hall, but as no one wished to plead against them they were instantly excused from further appearance in court regarding the matter.22 John Sandford, a labourer from Macclesfield in eastern Cheshire, received less favourable treatment after he allegedly killed a man with a blow from his poleaxe outside the Northgate on Michaelmas Day 1492. The jurors at a coroners’ inquest in December found him guilty, and he was mainprized as an indicted felon in March and April, his five sureties guaranteeing that he would not leave the city liberties. The sureties were prosperous craftsmen, who served as constables and jurors and perhaps represented the four quarters of the city. In June 1493 Sandford was brought to the crownmote by the gaoler and pleaded not guilty. Twelve jurors were immediately assembled and sworn and found him not guilty; the city’s doomsmen (judicatores), perhaps the direct successors of the Anglo-Saxon judges, acquitted him and declared that the murderer was a mariner from Dover. Sandford was nevertheless mainprized to appear at the following crownmote.23 In March 1493, before mainprizing John Sandford, the crownmote dealt with two indicted felons: a Welshman from Hope in Flintshire accused of stealing small sums of money (40d. on one occasion and 8d. on another) and a city shoemaker accused of stealing a lead vessel worth 40d. Neither of the accused owned any goods or chattels, and both were found guilty and sentenced to be hanged.24 It seems likely that their lack of goods and chattels contributed to their fate, as did their lack of influential contacts. John Sandford, awaiting his turn at the court, may well have viewed his prospects with considerable alarm.

Arbitration Arbitration was in widespread use in late medieval England because it was recognized that conciliation and compromise were more likely to produce lasting peace 22

CCALS, ZMB 6, fols 58r–58 v.

23

CCALS, ZMB 7, fols 150r, 151r, 152r–153v . By the thirteenth century the responsibility for providing doomsmen rested with particular tenements in the city. 24

CCALS, ZMB 7, fols 150r, 152v –153r, 153v .

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than the antagonistic process of the law. Town governors everywhere promoted its use, in disputes both between private individuals and between craft organizations, and Chester’s authorities included mediation by third parties among the civic ordinances.25 In the event of discord, four or five neighbours of the opposing parties were to attempt to reconcile them, and if they failed the dispute was to be brought before the mayor. Only if his intervention proved unavailing could the matter be taken to court.26 Informal neighbourly intervention has naturally left few traces. A rare example dates from 1497 when the neighbours of a Boughton resident ordered the Cestrian who had offended him to make amends by giving him 1½ bushels of wheat.27 More evidence survives for arbitration, accepted by all levels of society as an effective method of resolving disputes, although occasionally aggrieved parties refused to make the payment awarded by the arbitrators or denied that arbitration had taken place.28 In Exeter it seems that the opposing parties chose one or more arbitrators each, but at Chester the arbitrators were always described as indifferenter electi and may have been chosen to be impartial. Three or four were usually named and included local clergymen, prominent citizens, and country gentlemen.29 In 1489, when a fletcher accused a man and wife of detaining tools worth almost 8s., two saddlers, a locksmith, and a shearman served as arbitrators, craftsmen who would have appreciated the matters at issue. They ordered the tools to be returned or, if that proved impossible, then the sum of 3s. 11d. was to be handed over instead.

25

Michael J. Bennett, ‘A County Community: Social Cohesion among the Cheshire Gentry, 1400–25’, Northern History, 8 (1973), 24–44 (pp. 25–28); Edward Powell, ‘Arbitration and the Law in England in the Late Middle Ages’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 33 (1983), 46–67 (pp. 52–53); Simon Payling, ‘Law and Arbitration in Nottinghamshire 1399–1461’, in People, Politics and Community in the Later Middle Ages, ed. by Joel Rosenthal and Colin Richmond (Stroud: Sutton, 1987), pp. 140–60; Ralph A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI (Stroud: Sutton, 1998), pp. 595–97. 26

CCALS, ZMB 1, fol. 16r; ZMB 2, fol. 19v .

27

CCALS, ZSR 424, m. 1r.

28

CCALS, ZSR 159, m. 1d; ZSR 160, m. 1d; ZSR 240, m. 1d ; ZSR 243, m. 1r; ZSR 245, m. 1r; ZSR 246, m. 1d ; ZSR 289, m. 1d ; ZSR 295, m. 1d; ZSR 309, m. 1r; ZSR 331, m. 1r; ZSR 359, m. 1d; ZSR 373, m. 1r ; ZSR 405, m.1r ; ZSR 419, m. 1r. 29

Marianne Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade in Medieval Exeter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 219; CCALS, ZMB 4, fol. 66v ; ZMB 5, fols 13v , 214v ; ZSR 426, m. 1r.

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The arbitrators presumably hoped that this compromise solution would prove acceptable to both parties.30 Those involved in serious disputes made recognizances in the city exchequer in the Pentice to abide by arbitration awards. Examples include the carpenter and baker who agreed in 1413 to accept the award settling all disputes between them since the ‘beginning of the world’, and the alderman and son of a former sheriff who in 1453 agreed to accept the arbitrators’ ruling on all actions, plaints, claims, disputes, and demands which had long provoked such discord between them.31 When a city saddler and the prior of Dublin’s Black Friars disputed ownership of a pack of Irish cloth in April 1475, both men appeared in the city exchequer before the chamberlain Sir William Stanley, the mayor, and other members of the Prince of Wales’s council. They swore on the Holy Book to ‘perform, kepe, obeie and fulfill’ the doom and award of eight arbitrators ‘indifferently chosen’ by the chamberlain, mayor, and councillors. The arbitrators, all of them aldermen and six of them involved in the textile trades, made their award four days later, having heard the challenges and replies of both parties. They ordered the saddler to return the cloth within three days or to pay for it at the rate of 6d. a yard, and asked the men to take each other by the hand and be good friends.32 The ‘variaunce’ between ‘old’ Richard Warmingham and a widow over two tenements in St John’s Lane in 1474 was settled when they met the arbitrators at the Dominican friary and produced their evidence. Having heard the arguments on both sides, the arbitrators ordered the parties to be ‘fully accordet and frendes’ and gave a conciliatory judgement, declaring that Warmingham should relinquish his claim but that the widow should give him 20s. for the release and a penny each Midsummer. The two were bound by ‘motion of their friends’ to abide by and fulfil the award and doom, and the judgement was reported to the mayor, sheriffs, and leading citizens assembled at a special Sunday session of the portmote and duly enrolled in the court record. The matter had evidently caused great concern.33 The Smiths’ company in 1501 ruled that the aldermen and stewards were to arbitrate in the event of ‘variance’ between the brethren and, failing agreement, the parties had leave to complain further.34 Although the guilds enjoyed considerable

30

CCALS, ZSR 364, m. 1r.

31

CCALS, ZMB 3, fol. 23r; ZMB 4, fol. 66v .

32

CCALS, ZMB 5, fol. 214v.

33

CCALS, ZMB 5, fol. 182r.

34

BL, MS Harley 2054, fol. 20r.

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independence in the management of their affairs they were always subordinate to the city Assembly, which intervened to settle their disputes. In 1422, for example, an inquiry was conducted in the portmote to determine whether the Ironmongers or the Carpenters should have the assistance of the Fletchers, Bowyers, Stringers, Coopers, and Turners in putting on their pageants, and the mayor appended his seal to the decision. In 1475, when the Bowyers and Fletchers squabbled with the Coopers over their positions in the Corpus Christi procession, the mayor heard their grievances and complaints, took the advice of the aldermen, and declared that the Coopers were to go first and the Fletchers and Bowyers immediately behind.35 Arbitration was regularly used in conjunction with the threat of legal action, in the hope that this would bring pressure to bear on the opposing party and achieve an out-of-court settlement. The number of pleas in the Pentice Court which did not proceed because the parties had reached agreement averaged 23.5 per cent in the 1450s and 21.5 per cent in the 1480s.36 These figures, somewhat higher than the 17.8 per cent recorded at Exeter in the years 1378–88, may have been typical at Chester and suggest that the threat of litigation proved an effective strategy in resolving disputes.37

Breaches of the Peace and Disorderly Behaviour The local monk Lucian, who wrote his book in praise of Chester in the late twelfth century, considered that his fellow Cestrians had one grave fault, their hot temper. In 1354 the Black Prince declared that the city contained more lawbreakers than the entire county, and in 1449 the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield wrote despairingly of the many adulterers, fornicators, and other evildoers in both city and shire whom his officers dared not correct, some because of the men themselves, others because of the maintenance they had of powerful men.38 This contemporary evidence led historians to portray Cheshire as notoriously turbulent, even by the standards of late medieval England. The large number of peace recognizances was

35

CCALS, ZG 7/23; ZMB 5, fol. 216r.

36

CCALS, ZSR 281–313; ZSR 331–68.

37

Kowaleski, Local Markets and Regional Trade, pp. 218–19.

38

‘Liber Luciani de Laude Cestrie’, ed. by M. V. Taylor, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 64 (1912), ix–74 (p. 65); Register of Edward the Black Prince, 3 vols (London: HMSO, 1930–33), III, 161, 271; Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, Henry VI, vol. V : AD 1446–1452 (London: HMSO, 1909), p. 261.

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interpreted as an indication of lawlessness and suggestive of a society split asunder by feuding and strife. It is now accepted, however, that although Cheshire had distinctive characteristics, including a population accustomed to war and a location on the border with Wales, lawlessness was no worse than elsewhere.39 Violence was endemic in urban society, and Chester’s governors were unable to maintain peace and order all of the time, in spite of their efforts. Hundreds of presentations were made in the portmote concerning breaches of the peace, bloodletting, and hue and cry. The offences were similar to those committed in other towns, although the presence of the castle and the port (with their soldiers and sailors) inevitably heightened the risk of disorder. Townsmen and visitors routinely carried knives, and some were armed with poleaxes, daggers, swords, or bows and arrows. In 1450 a local goldsmith wounded his victim with an arrow fired from a gun.40 Women used sticks, stones, and metal pots as weapons and could prove formidable assailants, as a bowyer discovered in 1489 when an alewife struck him on the nose with a pewter bowl, inflicting an injury for which he later claimed £5 in damages.41 Tavern brawls, street scuffles, and hotheaded exchanges were part of daily life; blood flowed, heads were broken, but victims recovered. The usual penalty was a monetary fine, and the amount was increased if blood was drawn or if the assault was made on a major feast day or during the hours of darkness.42 Many pleas of trespass heard in the Pentice Court involved townspeople who had some type of ongoing relationship. In April 1460, for example, a Welsh woman accused Rosa Crumpe of assault, and Crumpe responded by prosecuting the other woman for money owed for food and drink. The woman who broke into a widow’s home in 1489 and carried away bed coverings, earthenware, and other household items was recovering goods seized by the widow for rent arrears.43 The court records are filled with connected pleas like these, and the juxtapositions provide clear indications of discord within the resident community. These tensions occasionally developed into violent confrontations. In January 1404 two local shipmen 39

Michael J. Bennett, Community, Class and Careerism: Cheshire and Lancashire Society in the Age of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 162–91; Philip Morgan, War and Society in Medieval Cheshire, 1277–1403 (Manchester: Chetham Society, 1987), pp. 6–8; Dorothy J. Clayton, The Administration of the County Palatine of Chester, 1442–85 (Manchester: Chetham Society, 1990), pp. 215–16, 241, 268–70. 40

CCALS, ZSR 284, m. 1r.

41

CCALS, ZSR 376, m. 1d .

42

CCALS, ZSR 284, m. 1r; ZSB 4, fols 97r–99v .

43

CCALS, ZSR 319, m. 1d; ZSR 367, m. 1r.

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came to blows on the Crofts, an area of open ground and poor-quality housing just within the city’s western wall near the harbour, and one killed the other with a blow on the head with his poleaxe. Among the witnesses who gave evidence at the coroners’ inquest were Thomas of Cornwall, Stephen of London, Nicholas of Trim, and Cona ap David, members of a transient community of outsiders, whose presence was often linked with low-level crime.44 The city’s prostitutes certainly congregated near the waterfront. A list of brothel-keepers in 1476 named two in Eastgate Street, two in Northgate Street, nine in Bridge Street, and eighteen in Watergate Street, many of them immigrants like Agnes Irish, Emma Trim, the wife of Candy Morris, and the daughters of Gruff Truthyn and Hoell ap Res.45 Although the authorities may have disapproved of their activities they did not banish prostitutes from the city, but instead imposed fines on the offenders. One woman kept a brothel for almost twenty years, from 1465 until her death in 1484, and three female brothel-keepers fined in the early 1460s remained in business for a dozen years or so and paid local taxes as independent householders.46 The city governors may have tolerated the activities of prostitutes in marginal areas until the 1490s, when attitudes evidently hardened. Brothel-keepers were now accused of receiving the servants and apprentices of ‘upright’ townsmen and encouraging them to amuse themselves both night and day. In the early sixteenth century fines of 6s. 8d. became standard, and some women were imprisoned until they found sureties.47 The activities of prostitutes scandalized Chester’s respectable wives, three of whom in 1494 assaulted Alice Wright alias Filpot, recently charged with brothel-keeping in association with two married men, and therefore perceived as a threat to traditional family values.48 The governing body itself occasionally split into rival factions, and their warring activities posed a serious threat to peace and stability. Particular problems arose in the early fifteenth century, during the rebellion of Owain Glyn Dw ˆ r over the first decade of the century. The ruling elite contained a number of men of Welsh descent, and tensions were inevitable, especially after September 1403 when, in the aftermath of the battle of Shrewsbury, the Prince of Wales ordered the city

44

TNA: PRO, CHES 29/108, m. 15v .

45

CCALS, ZSB 3, fols 37r, 37v, 39v.

46

CCALS, ZSB 2, fols 25v, 44v, 89r; ZSB 3, fols 3 r , 64r, 65 v, 66 r, 96v; ZSB 4, fols 9v, 31v, 92r; ZSB 5, fols 34v , 35r , 59r –61v ; BL, MS Harley 2158, fol. 46r. 47

CCALS, ZSB 4, fol. 8v ; ZSB 5, fols 61v , 84r , 88r, 92v , 140v ; ZSB 6, fol. 10r.

48

CCALS, ZSB 4, fol. 31v .

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authorities to drive all Welshmen and -women from the city, including those of Welsh extraction and sympathies. Any who stayed overnight were threatened with execution. The Welsh were forbidden from entering the city with weapons and from gathering in wine and ale taverns in groups of more than three. These were the most extreme measures against the Welsh proclaimed in any English city during the revolt.49 The measures resulted in a serious dispute in January 1408 between William Venables, constable of the castle, and the mayor John Ewloe, a Welshman who had held the mayoralty since 1405. The two men and their respective followings were repeatedly bound over to keep the peace, but the quarrel persisted and in August 1409 both were suspended from office, Ewloe because he was ‘tampering with the rebels’ and his loyalty was suspect.50 The sheriff of Cheshire was appointed ‘keeper and governor’ of Chester, and his deputy presided over portmote and crownmote until August 1410 and possibly until the mayoral elections in October of that year. These elections were disrupted by the armed intervention of a former sheriff and member of Venables’s affinity.51 Peace terms between Venables and the citizens were settled by arbitration in 1411, and both sides rode to Northwich for a ‘day of reconciliation’ (dies amoris). In February 1412 a second loveday was held, this time to settle the trespasses and discords between William Venables, his kinsfolk, friends, and other men of his retinue, and the mayor John Walshe (another Welshman), the sheriffs, the citizens, and their kinsmen and friends. The parties and their arbitrators met at Tarporley and chose the chamberlain and the parson of Rostherne to act as umpires, who would impose a settlement if the arbitrators failed to reach an agreement. Details of the award reveal that the discord stemmed from Venables’s failure to pay for cloth and wine purchased in the city and the beating of a capper’s wife by two of his followers. A settlement was reached and, in the presence of the chamberlain and other knights and esquires, the parties finally kissed and agreed.52 Lists of the rival affinities reveal the deep divisions within the civic elite, and feuding continued over the following years. After their election as mayor and 49

Morris, Chester in the Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns, p. 46; Thacker, ‘Later Medieval Chester’, p. 57. 50

Morris, Chester in the Plantagenet and Tudor Reigns, p. 47; Calendar of Recognizance Rolls of the Palatinate of Chester from the Earliest Period to the End of the Reign of Henry IV; Report of the Deputy Keeper of Public Records, Appendix II (London: HMSO, 1876), pp. 162, 387, 493. 51

CCALS, ZMB 2, fols 62v , 63r , 81r , 81v , 83r , 83v , 84v, 85 r, 85v , 91r.

52

CCALS, ZAF 1, fol. 1r; ZCHB 2, fols 67v –68r; BL, MS Harley 2057, fol. 109r.

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murager in October 1419 the brothers John and Robert Hope, born in Wales of Welsh parents, allegedly went through the city accompanied by a band of English and Welsh supporters wearing coats of mail and carrying swords and poleaxes. These precautions may have been justified. Shortly before the election John Ewloe’s son Edmund had gone with a group of thirty armed men to John Hope’s home, intending to kill the two brothers. The plot had been conceived by the wife of a former mayor, and she paid Ewloe £5 to carry it out, but the group succeeded only in stealing some valuable items and causing Hope’s wife to miscarry.53 The potential that retinues had for disorder was widely recognized in late medieval England, and as early as 1305 legislation was introduced to control the granting of liveries. More precise regulations were laid down in 1390, and the statutes were renewed on several occasions in the fifteenth century; the repetitions suggest that the measures had little effect.54 Liveries were given by men of gentry status as well as by great magnates. Three prominent Cestrians, all described as gentlemen, granted liveries to townsmen in the 1420s. Two city bailiffs were among men granted liveries (red) by former mayor John Whitmore in 1423, and John Hope granted liveries (red and black) to two bakers and a yeoman in 1426, during his sixth term as mayor. John Hawarden, son of a former mayor, granted green garments decorated with silver as liveries to a baker, a cutler, and three weavers in 1427. Townsmen who wore the liveries of these powerful individuals were drawn into their quarrels. In 1424 four city craftsmen joined John Whitmore in an armed attack on one of his neighbours, and the following year one of his kinsmen led the group of twenty townsmen which ambushed John Savage junior. The five men granted liveries by John Hawarden and some twenty-five other citizens, all of them armed, were with him when he broke into the home of William Venables in 1432.55 The palatine authorities attempted to control disruptive behaviour by issuing peace bonds, either mainprizes made in the Chester county court or recognizances made in the Chester exchequer.56 As the subjects of the bond and their sureties were required to be present in person, the city regularly became the setting for their quarrels. Should feuding gentlemen meet face to face the threat to peace was great,

53

TNA: PRO, CHES 25/11, ms. 17r–18r.

54

John A. F. Thomson, The Transformation of Medieval England, 1370–1529 (Harlow: Longman, 1983), pp. 120–23, 403–05; Griffiths, Reign of King Henry VI, pp. 133–36, 592–97. 55

TNA: PRO, CHES 25/12, ms. 13 r, 16 r, 16 d; CHES 25/13, m. 1d.

56

Clayton, Administration of the County Palatine of Chester, pp. 240–77.

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and efforts were made to keep them apart. In September 1426, when Sir John Stanley arbitrated to settle the ‘vareance, hevynes and debate’ between Sir Edward Weaver and Richard Bulkeley of Cheadle, he ordered them to come to Chester on separate days to make their recognizances. Each man was to come ‘in esy wysse’ and accompanied by no more than twelve supporters.57 Three years earlier the rival affinities of Sir John Savage and John Kingsley of Nantwich caused a major disturbance on the city streets. Savage had summoned his followers to join him in Chester at dawn on 31 May, and Kingsley and three hundred of his retainers arrived the following day. Contrary to the statute, all the men were armed, and they created such mayhem that the court session had to be adjourned until July. On that day both men and their armed supporters returned and caused such a great breach of the peace that the court had to be suspended yet again.58

Conclusion The court rolls and records of judicial inquiries make depressing reading and suggest that the authorities’ attempts to control discord were not very successful. The documents clearly reveal, however, their vigilance and painstaking bureaucracy. Mainprizes were renewed until the perceived threat of disorder had receded. Councilmen and constables were listed year after year under the headings of the four main streets, with notes recording who had taken the oath and who had died. Marks were placed against the names of jurors, indicating how often they had served. A close watch was kept on fine-payers and offenders, named by street, together with the pledges who guaranteed payment. Official attempts at control were limited in several ways, not least by the immune jurisdictions of the Benedictine abbey and nunnery in Chester. Both religious houses had the right to hold manorial courts for their tenants, and these townspeople escaped civic control. The castle and its demesne also lay outside the city’s jurisdiction. The governing body was sometimes frustrated in its efforts by a lack of due deference towards those in positions of authority. Sheriffs who attempted to break up street brawls or to execute writs met with torrents of abuse and house doors were slammed in their faces. Bailiffs encountered violent responses when they tried to carry out court orders: people broke arrest, took back

57

A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds in the Public Record Office (London: HMSO, 1890–1915), IV , A 10383; The Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd series, 22 (1925), p. 67. 58

TNA: PRO, CHES 25/12, ms. 2r, 2d, 3r.

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goods seized in distraint, and forced open tavern doors sealed on instructions of the mayor. Citizens performed civic duties with reluctance, and the bailiffs regularly struggled to assemble twelve probos et legales homines to serve as jurors. The court’s impartiality was sometimes questioned. In 1456–57 one defendant, concerned that he would not receive a fair hearing in the Pentice, asked to have the case transferred to the portmote, claiming that the plaintiff enjoyed ‘divers affinities and aliaunce’ with the sheriffs and that prominent men were seeking to influence the verdict in the latter’s favour.59 The failures to control discord are well documented and the successes were not recorded. The sources emphasize friction, but careful analysis of the hundreds of pledges named in the court rolls produces a more optimistic picture of community life.60 We can glimpse the infrastructure of family, friends, and neighbours who provided support when help was needed. Long-standing relationships can be detected, indicative of close friendships over many years. The butchers Henry Procator and Nicholas Fytton, neighbours in Watergate Street in the early fifteenth century, enjoyed a long association which lasted until Fytton died and Procator acted as his executor.61 The drapers Robert Bruyn and Roger Ledsham lived as neighbours in Northgate Street and were named jointly in property transfers. They were perhaps of similar age, Ledsham serving as sheriff in 1447–48 and Bruyn in 1448–49, Bruyn as mayor in 1462–63 and Ledsham in 1464–65. They invariably acted as pledges for one another for over twenty years.62 Townspeople of lesser rank, both men and women, were also able to rely on a supportive network of neighbours and kinsfolk. Although quarrels and disputes often produced discord, good neighbourliness and friendship sustained the community and helped to keep the peace.

59

BL, MS Harley 2046, fol. 33r.

60

For a detailed discussion, see Laughton, Life in a Medieval City, pp. 130–32.

61

TNA: PRO, CHES 29/108, m. 15d; CCALS, ZMB 2, fols 29r, 78 r; ZMB 3, fols 56v, 57r; ZMR 64, m. 1d; ZMR 78, m. 1r; ZSR 126, m. 2d. 62

CCALS, ZMR 90, m. 1r; ZMR 91, m. 1r; ZSR 272, m. 1r; ZSR 289, m. 1d ; ZSR 307, m. 1r; ZSR 323, m. 1d.

F OOD , H IERARCHY, AND C LASS C ONFLICT Miriam Müller

F

ood lies at the core of human subsistence, both in the way it was produced, as well as the processes by which portions of it were extracted from its primary producers. These issues have been of interest to historians for some time, and in recent years Chris Dyer has been at the forefront among medievalists to examine food consumption itself more closely among both the aristocracy and the peasantry.1 Sociologists and anthropologists are keen to remind us that culinary habits and cultures can reveal a wealth of information about a myriad of aspects of human life, including societies of the past.2 Culinary cultures do not exist in a cultural and 1

Christopher Dyer, ‘Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages: The Case of Harvest Workers’, in Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994; repr. 2000); pp. 77–99; Dyer, ‘English Diet in the Later Middle Ages’, in Social Relations and Ideas: Essays in Honour of R. H. Hilton, ed. by Trevor H. Aston, Peter R. Coss, Christopher Dyer, and Joan Thirsk, Past and Present Society Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 191–216; Dyer, ‘Did the Peasants Really Starve in Medieval England?’, in Food and Eating in Medieval Europe, ed. by Martha Carlin and Joel T. Rosenthal (London: Hambledon, 1998), pp. 53–71. Some excellent recent studies on food in the Middle Ages include Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition, ed. by Christopher M. Woolgar, Dale Serjeantson, and Tony Waldron (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Roy Strong, Feast: A History of Grand Eating (London: Jonathan Cape, 2002); Christopher M. Woolgar, The Great Household in Late Medieval England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), chs 6 and 7. See also the studies based on archaeological research, for example Umberto Albarella and Richard Thomas, ‘They Dined on Crane: Wild Bird Consumption, Wild Fowling and Status in Medieval England’, Acta Zoologica Cracoviensa, 45, special issue (2002), 23–38. 2

See for example the classic studies by Claude Lévi-Strauss, ‘The Culinary Triangle’ and Mary Douglas, ‘Deciphering a Meal’; both have been reprinted in Food and Culture: A Reader, ed. by Carole Counhan and Penny Van Esterk (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 28–35 and 36–54. For

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economic vacuum, as Jack Goody pointed out, but are intertwined with class and social hierarchy.3 Certain foods might be the legal preserve of the ruling class, as for example game was in medieval Europe. Thereby game became a food which carried particular and specific associations of nobility and exclusive seigneurial rights. In other words, game became part of shaping seigneurial or noble identity.4 Class relationships can place certain foods out of the reach of the poor or interfere with the local availability of basic food items. Peasants who suffered in the famine of the early fourteenth century may have done so partly because they felt compelled to grow cash crops like wheat, which proved so vulnerable to the adverse weather conditions precipitating harvest failures, because their local lords (or the state) demanded cash rents or taxes from them.5 In pre-industrial societies, when the vast majority of the population was comprised of peasants, it was towns, as Chris Dyer has pointed out, which were most vulnerable to food scarcities.6 Economic hardship among sections of the peasantry in the pre–Black Death period can not be mechanistically related to high population densities, without also taking account of the social structures which meant that peasants were always forced to hand a portion of their surplus, either in cash, kind, or labour, over to their local lord, thus impoverishing themselves.7 The manorial system should be seen as the framework within which other factors, such as the availability of food as well as any food cultures, should be placed.

a non-structuralist approach to the study of meals, see for example Jack Goody, Cooking, Cuisine and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). 3

Goody, Cooking, Cuisine and Class, pp. 98–99.

4

See also on the question of food as identity Peter Scholliers, ‘Meals, Food Narratives, and Sentiments of Belonging in Past and Present’, in Food, Drink and Identity: Cooking, Eating and Drinking in Europe since the Middle Ages, ed. by Peter Scholliers (Oxford: Berg, 2001), pp. 3–22. 5

Herbert E. Hallam, ‘The Climate in Eastern England 1250–1350’, Agricultural History Review, 32 (1984), 124–32; Ian Kershaw, ‘The Great Famine and Agrarian Crisis in England 1315–1322’, Past and Present, 59 (1973), 3–50; see also Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002; paperback edn, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003), p. 229. 6

Christopher Dyer, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520, rev. edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 199; Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages, p. 230. 7

See for example Rodney H. Hilton, ‘Feudalism in Europe: Problems for Historical Materialists’, in Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism: Essays in Medieval Social History, rev. 2nd edn (London: Verso, 1990), pp. 1–11.

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Some very important studies have looked at the important shifts which were taking place in the later fourteenth century, when pastoral farming expanded and more intensive cereal production contracted. This was due to a combination of factors, including the shortage of labour, and hence higher wages demanded by peasant labourers after the Black Death, which made pastoral agriculture suddenly a more cost-effective and appealing prospect. These developments went hand in hand with a growing demand for meat products as peasants, artisans, and labourers found themselves with the means to indulge in some luxury goods.8 In this chapter I will examine long-term changes in the dietary choices of the labouring class, from the thirteenth century onwards, and then focus on how food and consumption became an integral part of the sharpened class struggle between lords, peasants, and labourers in the post–Black Death decades.

I In medieval society meat was a high-status food, associated with wealth and members of the aristocratic classes. In general meat is an inefficient form of agriculture, a point already made by Braudel, as areas of pasture set aside and needed to sustain animals for meat production means that effectively arable or potentially arable land is taken away from farming to feed people directly to feed animals instead. Therefore more land is needed to produce meat to feed people than would be the case if plant proteins were eaten instead.9 However, this inefficiency probably contributed to meat being regarded as a high-status food, as before mass animal husbandry meat was an expensive occasional luxury for the majority of the population, whose dietary proteins were mainly derived from a variety of grains, lentils, peas, and beans. In addition the peasant diet would have contained, depending on wealth, occasional cheese and eggs, plus any additional fruit or nuts which were grown on the peasants’ own land and back gardens or gathered in the wild.10 8

Christopher M. Woolgar, ‘Meat and Dairy Products in Late Medieval England’, in Food in Medieval England, ed. by Woolgar, Serjeantson, and Waldron, pp. 88–101; Dyer, ‘Did the Peasants Really Starve?’; Dyer, ‘English Diet’. 9

Fernand Braudel, Civilisation and Capitalism 15th to 18th Century: vol. I, The Structure of Everyday Life (London: Fontana, 1985), p. 104. 10

Woolgar, ‘Meat and Dairy Products’; Dyer, ‘English Diet’. While cheese was associated with the peasantry, it is clear that many peasants would not have eaten dairy products on a regular basis. See for example Dyer, ‘English Diet’, p. 208; see also for archaeological confirmation Umberto Albarella and Simon J. M. Davis, ‘The Saxon and Medieval Animal Bones Excavated 1985–1989

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In contrast, much of the diet of the nobility was defined by meat eating, and large volumes of it. This was both meat from animal husbandry and game.11 As Salisbury points out, ‘A nobleman was perceived as noble in part because of the noble food (meat) he ate’.12 The diet of monks at Westminster Abbey, Barbara Harvey argues, approximated that of the gentry in the fifteenth century. Here on an average day merely 0.5 per cent of the daily energy value consumed came from vegetables, but 35 per cent came from bread and 17 per cent came from meat.13 A clear trend of specific diets signalling social classes has also been found in German literature from the thirteenth century onwards, where, as Jones put it, ‘the gentry were divinely ordained to eat game, fish and white bread; and the peasantry were ordained to eat dark bread, porridge, turnips and side meat (cheap cuts of pork)’.14 Alongside meat, fowl, fish, and crustaceans also featured prominently on the table of the English nobility, in both great quantities and varieties.15 The white, wheaten bread was also a high-status food. The high value attached to such bread is demonstrated in a court case at the Norfolk manor of Heacham dating from 1276, when the local baker accused three individuals of having stolen white wheaten simnel bread right off his fire. These had been intended as rent payment to the lord prior of Lewes, and the damages were alleged to have amounted to 2s.16 The nobility also had a penchant for spices, including saffron, cinnamon, and pepper, alongside more exotic foods, including raisins, currants, almonds, rice, and dates.17 Dairy products, such as cheese, were spurned, as were any other foods

from West Cotton, Nothamptonshire’, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 17/94, esp. p. 9. I am very grateful to Umberto Albarella for letting me see this report and for various references to zooarchaeological findings. 11

See also Joyce E. Salisbury, The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 57–58. 12

Salisbury, The Beast Within, p. 57.

13

Barbara Harvey, Living and Dying in England, 1100–1540: The Monastic Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 36, 57. 14

George F. Jones, ‘The Function of Food in Medieval German Literature’, Speculum, 35, (1960), 78–86 (p. 79). 15

Dyer, Standards of Living, p. 58; Dyer, ‘English Diet’, p. 209.

16

Norfolk Record Office, Le Strange DA 1.

17

For spices and dried fruit, see for example Christopher Woolgar, ‘Fast and Feast: Conspicuous Consumption and the Diet of the Nobility in the Fifteenth Century’, in Revolution and Consumption in Late Medieval England, ed. by Michael Hicks (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2001), pp. 7–25 (pp. 21–22); Dyer, Standards of Living, pp. 62–63.

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which were associated with the peasantry, such as beans, peas, barley, or rye breads, or fruit and vegetables.18 Food inequalities also existed within the social classes. Analysis of food which was customarily given by lords to their customary tenants at boons or other occasions reveals inequalities among the peasantry itself which deserve more investigation. There was, for instance, a gender division in the food provided for unfree peasants. At the Suffolk manor of Brandon of the Bishop of Ely the account of 1391–92 noted that the male harvest workers were fed at the lord’s cost on bread together with eight herrings each for the men or six herrings each for the women.19 This inequality in food allowances had a long history, indicating that female harvest workers had been unable (or unwilling) to bargain for food allowances on a par with men after the Black Death.20 As early as 1251 customs at the manor of Brandon stipulated that virgaters had to find two men to reap and be fed by the lord for three harvest boons. Two men were to have from the lord per day seven barley or rye loaves and the men were to have sixteen herrings and women harvest workers twelve herrings for performing the same work of reaping, binding, and stacking sixteen acres of rye.21 The mid-thirteenth-century customs on the manors of Glastonbury Abbey in the south-west of England similarly show that there was no uniformity in food provisions during harvest boons on individual manors of the estate. Some manors demanded quite onerous labour services, yet provided no food whatsoever, like the manors of Damerham or Ditcheat.22 In East Pennard it was customary for the 18

Dyer, ‘English Diet’, pp. 207–09; Alexander Fenton, ‘Prestige, Hunger and Charity: Aspects of Status through Food’, in Essen und Kulturelle Identitaet: Europaeische Perspectiven, ed. by Hans J. Teuteberg, Gerhard Neumann, and Alois Wierlacher (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997), pp. 155–58; Dyer, ‘Did the Peasants Really Starve?’, pp. 56–60. 19

Bacon Collection at the University of Chicago, MS 656, no. 1.

20

Gonville and Caius College Library (Cambridge), MS 485/489, fol. 353v. See also the related discussion of female wage labour in Sandy Bardsley, ‘Women’s Work Reconsidered: Gender and Wage Differentiation in Late Medieval England’, Past and Present, 165 (1999), 3–29; John Hatcher, ‘Women’s Work Reconsidered: Gender and Wage Differentiation in Late Medieval England’, Past and Present, 173 (2001), 191–98; Sandy Bardsley, ‘Women’s Work Reconsidered: Gender and Wage Differentiation in Late Medieval England: Reply’, Past and Present, 173 (2001), 199–202. 21 22

Gonville and Caius, MS 485/489, fols 354–55.

Rentalia et Customaria Michaelis de Ambresbury 1335–1252 et Rogeri de Ford 1252–1261, ed. by Charles J. Elton, Somerset Record Society, 5 (Frome: Somerset Record Society, 1891), pp. 108, 114–18.

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Abbot of Glastonbury to feed his tenants at a feast at Christmas, but not every tenant received the same food. Virgaters received ten loaves of bread and pork and beef, and were allowed have up to ten men drinking in the lord’s hall. Half virgaters only received four white loaves less meat and had an allowance of four men drinking. Smallholders like William de Estune were only given an allowance of half of what the half virgaters received, while those holding less than five acres of land did not get anything.23 At Ashbury harvest boonworks culminated into something of a small feast, when virgaters, and it seems smallholding five-acre tenants as well, were to find two men for three boons to reap the lord’s grain, for which they were fed for two days on bread and cheese and on the third day they were given bread and cheese at lunchtime and in the evening bread, meat, and ale in the lord’s hall.24 By the later fourteenth century social delineators expressed in food cultures were being more actively and visibly undermined by changing social forces, and the status of meat or wheaten bread symbolic of upper-class foods had come under threat. The diets of the peasantry and labourers were changing, and an increasing demand for meat fuelled the growing pastoral agriculture and hence the production of meat and dairy.25 Historians have pointed out that partly in response to the upper-class pretensions among the labouring class, the later Middle Ages saw an increased move towards conspicuous consumption among the rich and a rather ostentatious display of wealth, especially at great feasts where the wealthy turned mealtimes into theatrical spectacles.26 However, already in 1336 a statute tried to regulate the excessive culinary habits of the wealthy, where both the quantities and choicest types of meats consumed were identified to cause problems. ‘For the great men, by these excesses, have been sorely grieved, and the lesser people, who only endeavour to imitate the great ones in such sort of meats are much impoverished; whereby they are not able to aid themselves or their liege Lord in time of need, as they ought.’ Clearly the problem was that the wealthy were spending so much on feasting and food, they had little cash left for other things; like taxes or military 23

Rentalia et Customaria, ed. by Elton, pp. 126–28. There is no clear relationship between labour services demanded and these entitlements. 24

Rentalia et Customaria, ed. by Elton, pp. 52–53. Tenants who had not participated in the boons appear to have been excluded. 25 See for example Christopher Dyer, ‘Work Ethics in the Fourteenth Century’, in The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-Century England, ed. by James Bothwell, P. J. P. Goldberg, and W. Mark Ormrod (York: York Medieval Press, 2000), pp. 21–41 (pp. 30–34). 26

Woolgar, ‘Fast and Feast’, pp. 19–23; Strong, Feast, pp. 87–95.

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obligations, one might speculate. The statute also imposed a limit of two on the number of meat courses served at each meal, exempting of course a whole string of feast days and holidays, ‘On which days and feasts every man may be served with three courses at the utmost.’27 The examination of the diets of harvest workers, for whom food always constituted an important part of their remuneration, has revealed an increase of the provision of beef versus the more common bacon, and wheat and rye bread instead of barley, which had vanished completely from the diet of the harvest workers at Sedgeford, Norfolk, by the early fifteenth century.28 By the fifteenth century Alice de Bryene was also supplying her boonworkers with bread made from wheat, and in August 1413 she had a total of 401 loaves of bread baked from wheat specifically for feeding the boonworkers who came to her hall.29 The provision of food for boonworkers was not uniform across all manors on an estate, as, for example, on the bishopric of Winchester. Much depended on local circumstances, from the size of local seigneurial demesnes, the type of crops grown on these acres, down to local bargaining between peasants and the lord on the nature of the provisions. Using three published pipe rolls (enrolled accounts) of the bishopric’s estate, it is possible, however, to conduct a rough comparison of food provided to boonworkers on the bishop’s manors for three different account-years across a two-hundred-year period: that is, for 1210–11, 1301–02, and 1409–10 (see Figure 1). The first important point to make is that, as far as we know, the numbers of manors where food was provided during boons changed quite dramatically over the two hundred years. In 1210–11 a total of seventeen manors had details on food provided at harvest boons out of a total of forty-one manors. For an additional ten manors harvest expenses are listed without any indication of what these might have involved.30 It can be suspected that some of these unspecified expenses hide food expenses. In 1301–02 a total of thirty-one manors provided food during boonworks according to the pipe roll of that year, but in 1409–10 this had declined to merely

27

Statutes of the Realm, 11 vols (London: Record Commission, 1810–28), I, 278–79.

28

Dyer, ‘Changes in Diet’, pp. 85–86.

29

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene of Acton Hall, Suffolk, September 1412–September 1413 with Appendices, trans. by Marion K. Dale and ed. by Vincent B. Redstone (Ipswich: Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History, 1931), pp. 85–94. 30

The Pipe Roll of the Bishopric of Winchester 1210–1211, ed. by Neville R. Holt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1964).

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thirteen manors.31 Where references to boonwork food are available for all three years on individual manors they do show a shift away from pottage and ale to more cheese and bread as a percentage of the total foods given, while the provision of meat remained fairly stable and rose slightly in the fifteenth century. There is one reference to the delicacy of the milk soup of mortrel made with the precious white wastel bread at the manor of Esher, Surrey, alongside bread, herring, and meat as early as 1301–02, but this was an exceptional case.32 Food given to boonworkers at the manors of the Bishopric of Winchester 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

pottage

relish

herring

cheese

bread

1210-1211

meat

1301-2

ale

cider

mortrel

1409-10

Figure 1. Figures are given in percentages of manors at which individual food items were provided.

It is notable that there was no sudden shift after the early fourteenth century, but that a move away, especially from ale, fish, and herring, had already begun before the fourteenth century. There were also changes in the foods provided at individual manors. At Merdon (Hampshire) in 1210–11 boonworkers received bread and herring. In 1301–02 Merdon boonworkers received meat, herring, and bread, and 31 The Pipe Rolls of the Bishopric of Winchester 1301–2, ed. by Mark Page (Winchester: Hampshire County Council, 1996); The Pipe Rolls of the Bishopric of Winchester 1409–10, ed. by Mark Page (Winchester: Hampshire County Council, 1999). 32

Pipe Rolls 1301–2, ed. by Page, p. 339.

fish

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in 1409–10 they received bread, meat, and cheese.33 At the manor of Esher boonworkers received only ale and bread in 1210–11, in the early fourteenth century bread, herring, meat, cheese, and mortrel, and by the fifteenth century the tenant community had paid their lord a release from virtually all labour services, and those who still owed some services paid individual fines to be released from them.34 Therefore, rather than seeing a sharp change in the types of food provided at boons after the Black Death it is rather the case that we can observe more subtle longerterm changes which are already becoming notable in the thirteenth century.35 Aside from the types of food offered, it is also important to note, as in the Esher case above, the sharp decline of manors which provided food for harvest works at all in the early fifteenth century. In fact whereas in 1210–11 a total of thirty-five manors provided food at boonworks, and thirty-one in 1301–02, only thirteen manors still did so in 1409–10.36 In many manors the labour services had been sold or commuted by the fifteenth century, such as in the manors of North Waltham, Highclere, and Burghclere (all in Hampshire).37 This would have been the result of a combination of factors, including tenant pressure to stop labour services and a declining need for labour services due to an expansion of pastoral agriculture or leasing out of the demesne. In other places, harvest work previously done by compulsion was now done by the task for cash wages, such as in Fareham or Droxford (both in Hampshire).38 Such cases illustrate the gradual erosion of the status of villeinage and that local peasantries had successfully been able to demand that cash payments be substituted for the works. Although the bishopric of Winchester estate by 1409–10, for reasons of agrarian reorganization, does not strongly indicate pretensions to better food, this

33

Pipe Roll 1210–1211, ed. by Holt, p. 23; Pipe Rolls 1301–2, ed. by Page, p. 81; Pipe Rolls 1409–10, ed. by Page, p. 375. 34 Pipe Roll 1210–1211, ed. by Holt, p. 105; Pipe Rolls 1301–2, ed. by Page, p. 339; Pipe Rolls 1409–10, ed. by Page, p. 171. 35

See also Dyer, ‘Changes in Diet’, esp. p. 91. Also compare with John Langdon, ‘Waged Building Employment in Medieval England: Subsistence Safety Net or Demographic Trampoline?’, in this volume. 36

The Pipe Roll of 1409–10 recorded sixty-six manors, eight boroughs, and five liberties; see Pipe Rolls 1409–10, ed. by Page, p. xix. In 1301–02 a total of fifty-seven manors were recorded alongside eight boroughs; see Pipe Rolls 1301–2, ed. by Page, p. xii. In 1210–11 forty-one manors were listed; Pipe Roll 1210–1211, ed. by Holt, pp. 3–4. 37

Pipe Rolls 1409–10, ed. by Page, pp. 249, 225, 232.

38

Pipe Rolls 1409–10, ed. by Page, pp. 301, 236.

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can be be gleaned from other sources in the second half of the fourteenth century, which indicate assertive bargaining on the part of the labourer. In some indictments of offenders against the Statute of Labourers, labourers were demanding higher status and more costly foods as payments for their labours. The parson of Elydon in Wiltshire had employed a number of individuals on inflated grain wages. His carter, John Boltash, received for ten weeks of work one quarter of corn, of which two bushels were wheat; however, the indictment states that ‘he should have worked for 11 weeks for one quarter with only one bushel of wheat’.39 Clearly it was felt that the wheat needed special mention in this case, and again another of the parson’s employees, Walter Ryche, was said to have ‘acknowledged that he received [. . .] for his livery this year through the whole winter for 12 weeks 1 quarter of corn of whereof 2 bushels were of wheat, whereas he used to be given for twelve weeks 1 quarter of corn without wheat’.40 In another case ‘John the shepherd of Walter Holman of Medebourn took excessively [. . .] 20d. for his livery by taking for the half-year out of every quarter of corn 2 bushels of wheat instead of 2 bushels of barley’.41 By 1363 the ruling class had become concerned enough about the growing cultural aspirations of their social inferiors to issue a Statute concerning Diet and Apparel, ‘For the outrageous and Excessive Apparel of divers people, against their state and degree to the great destruction and Impoverishment of the land’. The lower class imitating the cultural habits of the upper class was seen to threaten the social order, and the statute asserted that ‘grooms as well as servants of lords, as they of mysteries, and artificers, shall be served to eat [meat] and drink once a day of flesh and fish, and the remnant of other victuals, as of milk, butter and cheese, and other such victuals according to their estate’.42 Contemporaries bemoaned the dietary habits of the peasant and labourer, sometimes like John Gower, harking back to a golden age of a better sort of servant of the plough, who knew his station in life. In Gower’s endless lament on the ne’erdo-well peasant of the time, Vox Clamantis, a poetic dream-vision of the revolt of 1381, he complains about how difficult it is for employers to find reliable workmen: ‘These are the people who behave basely within the house, as long as your food and drink lasts. Because such a man is hired as a member of your household, 39

E. M. Thompson, ‘Offenders against the Statute of Labourers in Wiltshire A .D . 1349’, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 33 (1903–04), 384–409 (p. 404). 40

Thompson, ‘Offenders’, pp. 404–05.

41

Thompson, ‘Offenders’, p. 407.

42

Statutes of the Realm, I, 380.

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he scorns all ordinary food. He grumbles steadily that everything salted is harmful, and that he doesn’t like cooked foods much, unless you give him some roast.’43 Gower is reminding us here of the practice of providing food as part of the wage package negotiated with workers, as well as the fact that in a climate of labour scarcity after the Black Death workers very quickly left their employment to find a more lucrative deal elsewhere if the current position was not to their liking. Roast meat was associated with upper-class diets, while salted meat was associated with the peasant diet, where salted pork, or bacon, was the most common form of meat consumed.44 ‘Neither weak beer nor cider is of any use to him,’ he continues, ‘and he will not return tomorrow unless you provide something better. O why should a man, whom water drawn from a well has nourished ever since birth demand such delicious drink?’ At the bottom of this malaise, as Gower sees it, are the aspirations to the cultural norms of the rich, for as he concludes: ‘Born of a poor man’s stock and a poor man himself, he demands things for his belly like a lord.’45 Gower defines labourers or peasants here by their stomachs, while the foods they choose or reject become indicators for the acceptance or rejection of their status in society. In fact in sections of Vox Clamantis, Gower actively used food as a potent metaphor for social status. In the dream-vision some peasants turn into dogs, but ‘The morsel which fell from their master’s table was not food to these dogs, and they did not like any kind of bones. Instead they demanded better fare for their throats, they devoured everything fat when they met up with it’.46 Similarly some pigs had forgotten their divinely designated nature and ‘These so-called swine did not like dregs or swill and had no use for draff which should have been their food. They did not hunt for husks or acorns from the oaks of the forest for themselves, but seized upon what better things they saw’. Echoing Gower’s comments about labourers, the swine did not feel that water was ‘good enough for their drink; instead they gulped down fine wine’.47 Food thus became a symbol for social class, and for rebellion. 43

The Major Latin Works of John Gower: The Voice of One Crying and the Tripartite Chronicle, ed. and trans. by Eric W. Stockton (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1962), p. 210. 44

Umberto Albarella, ‘The Animal Economy of Rural Settlements: A Zooachaeological Case Study From Northamptonshire’, in Medieval Settlement Research Group - Annual Report, no. 11 (King’s Lynn: Heritage Marketing and Publication, 1996), p. 16. See also Albarella and Davis, ‘Saxon and Medieval Animal Bones’, pp. 16–18. 45

Major Latin Works of John Gower, ed. and trans. by Stockton, p. 210.

46

Major Latin Works of John Gower, ed. and trans. by Stockton, p. 58.

47

Major Latin Works of John Gower, ed. and trans. by Stockton, p. 58.

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Similar concerns are raised by William Langland in Piers Ploughman. In the famous Book VI ‘Piers sets the World to Work’ (of the B version), Piers, the pilgrims, and others are helping him to plough his half acre. Trouble starts when Piers wants to pick some harvest workers, and some of them lounge around on the edge of the field, sing songs, and have a few drinks too many. Piers gets angry and blames the labourers for wasting resources. Hunger appears and teaches all a lesson, but as soon as Hunger was appeased the beggars and wasters went back to their old ways.48 Langland then begins to echo Gower’s concerns: ‘And the beggars refused the bread that had beans in it, demanding milk loaves and fine wheaten bread.’ So again labourers are accused of aspiring beyond their station. Dark brown bread baked with beans might have been the staple bread for the peasant and labourer of old, but now they demanded the high-status bread made from wheat. ‘And they would not drink cheap beer at any price, but only the best brown ale that is sold in the towns.’49 Langland, like Gower, continues to identify typical peasant foods like vegetables and bacon, which are now rejected for choicer treats: ‘And the day labourer, who have no land to live on but their shovels, would not deign to eat yesterday’s vegetables. And draught-ale was not good enough for them, nor a hunk of bacon, but they must have fresh meat or fish, fried or baked.’50 The battle cry over food production certainly was placed in the mouth of the radical preacher John Ball in the revolt of 1381 by the chronicler Jean Froissart. The production of food itself is identified in the reported speech as a battleground over the rights of dominion, when Froissart lets John Ball ask the rhetorical question: ‘If we all spring from a single father and mother Adam and Eve, how can they claim or prove that they are more lords than us, except by making us produce and grow the wealth which they spend.’51 It does not matter of course whether Ball actually said those words or not; what is important is that Froissart felt that these were the kinds of political sentiments underpinning discontent, and in this case the nature in which the produced foods were alienated from the peasantry was pinpointed quite astutely as a root problem underpinning inequality. The elite exploitation of the productive processes were

48 William Langland, Piers the Ploughman, trans. by Jonathan F. Goodridge (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959), pp. 84–89. 49

Langland, Piers the Ploughman, p. 89.

50

Langland, Piers the Ploughman, p. 89.

51

Jean Froissart, Chronicles, ed. and trans. by Geoffrey Brereton (London: Penguin, 1968; repr. 1978), p. 212.

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inherently imbedded in the sharp hierarchical delineators apparent in food cultures. ‘They have the wines, the spices and the good bread,’ the speech continues, again comparing contrasting living standards between the rich and the poor, ‘we have the rye, the husks and the straw, and we drink water.’ Food and drink thus become a metaphor for inequality and oppression. Changing food cultures among the peasantry and labourers therefore were also an expression of a rejection of the hierarchical delineators associated with them.

II Rights of dominion over natural resources extended commonly into the area of game and other wild animals, whether in fishponds, rabbit warrens, or game parks.52 While meat other than pork was a high-status food, it was game which carried with it particular connotations of nobility, whose sport it was to hunt, often riding through the fields of peasants with little or no regard for the destruction of crops caused by them or their prey. Such symbols of the nobility and lordship as ‘private’ fishponds, warrens, or game reserves had a long history of being attacked in popular uprisings throughout the Middle Ages in Europe. During the 1381 revolt peasants took possession of the Abbot of St Albans’s warren and woods of Sopwell, Hertfordshire, when, according to the chronicler Thomas Walsingham, the rebels ‘took a certain live rabbit in the fields and fixed it to the pillory in St Albans to symbolize the liberty of the warren’.53 Just how powerful a symbol this was and the scale of the affront to the rights of lordship this caused were made clear in the suppression of the revolt, when those involved were first dragged through the same fields and then hanged on the beams made from the wood of the same forest.54 Various charters of liberties extorted from the abbey invariably mention liberties to hunt. The charter for Cassio (Hertfordshire), for example, allows the tenants of Watford and Cassio to ‘hunt all wild animals, fish in all waters which exist in the said vills’.55

52

See also Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (repr. London: Routledge, 2003 with a new introduction by Christopher Dyer; originally published 1973), pp. 70–72. 53

Thomas Walsingham, Gesta Abbatum Monasterii Sancti Albani III Thomas Walsingham, ed. by Henry T. Riley, 3 vols (London: HMSO, 1867–69), III, 303. 54

Walsingham, Gesta Abbatum, III, 303.

55

Walsingham, Gesta Abbatum, III, 325.

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These rebel demands were direct echoes of those presented to the king at Smithfield in June 1381, when according to Knighton ‘The commons asked of the king that all game, whether in waters or parks and woods should become common to all, so that everywhere in the realm, in rivers and in fishponds, and woods and forests, they might take the wild beasts, and hunt the hare in the fields, and do many other things without restraint’.56 Various court records show that peasants did have a tendency to ignore bans to hunt wild animals, and poaching was not uncommon, which is also reflected in zooarchaeological findings, such as those of West Cotton, in Northamptonshire, where red deer, roe deer, rabbit, and hare bones showing butchery marks have been found in the village site.57 The issue of access to game was remarkably persistent, and it was not a purely medieval or English phenomenon. Peasants called for free access to fish in Kett’s rebellion of 1549, while rights to hunt and kill game and fish featured almost universally in the demands made in the German Peasants’ War and the discontent leading up to it. In 1513 the peasant Bundschuh of Lehen near Freiburg demanded that not only wood and water, but also game should be free to all.58 In the twelve articles of the peasants of Swabia, which in many ways set a precedent for other articles of peasant confederations thereafter, the fourth article complained that it had ‘hitherto been the custom that no poor man has been empowered or permitted to catch game, wildfowl, or fish in flowing water, which we consider quite improper and unbrotherly, indeed selfish and contrary to the word of God’.59 Privileged access to game, however, extends beyond the assertion of seigneurial rights of dominion over natural resources per se into seigneurial rights and dominion over peasant assets and goods. The destruction and havoc caused by protected game, such as deer, rabbits, or flocks of pigeons descending upon the peasants’ crops, could not be lawfully prevented by killing or in some cases even driving these

56

Knighton’s Chronicle 1337–1396, ed. and trans. by Geoffrey H. Martin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 219. 57

Jean Birrell, ‘Peasant Deer Poachers in the Medieval Forests’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 68–88; Albarella and Davis, ‘Saxon and Medieval Animal Bones’, pp. 20, 23. 58

Quellen zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges, ed. by Günther Franz (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 1963), p. 77. 59

The twelve articles can be found translated in The German Peasants’ War: A History in Documents, ed. and trans. by Tom Scott and Bob Scribner (New York: Humanity Books, 1991), p. 255.

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animals away. Again, many of the German complaints highlight this problem: ‘In some places the lords keep game in defiance of our wishes and to our great detriment, for we must suffer the dumb animals wantonly and unnecessarily to devour our crops.’60 The demand to be allowed free access to game and other wild animals is not merely a political statement challenging the exclusive rights of lords over highstatus food, but it is also a demand which is inextricably intertwined with a rejection of wider seigneurial rights over peasant assets, including their crops. In reserving the right to eat game for lords alone, the message had wider implications. Rabbits, deer, and wild birds were high-status foods, not only because only the nobility were allowed to eat them, but also because the animals themselves could eat the peasants’ crops, which the nobility de facto owned as well. In 1390 a parliamentary statute in England made clear connections between hunting and social unrest, when it was declared that ‘Artificers, labourers and servants, and grooms, keep greyhounds and other dogs’ in order to go ‘Hunting in parks, warrens and connigries of lords and others’, when they should be at church like other decent folk, but instead they not only cause ‘very great destruction’, but the trouble was that ‘sometimes under such colour they make their assemblies, conferences, and conspiracies’. It was ordered that no labourers nor anyone else with lands yielding less than 40s. per annum was from henceforth allowed to keep dogs to hunt or use ferrets, nets or any other devices ‘for to take or destroy [deer, hares, nor conies, nor other gentlemen’s game] upon pain of one year’s imprisonment’.61 As peasants and labourers indulged in more meat eating, the nobility had to strengthen parameters enforcing a dietary differentiation between themselves and their social inferiors. This meant that eating wild animals and game became an ever more important preserve for the nobility in the later Middle Ages, alongside increasingly ostentatious displays of wealth at the feasts of the rich.62 The types of meat eaten also became a more important marker of social hierarchy. Albarella and Thomas have argued that wild birds ‘played a significant role in the definition of economic and social status’ especially in the later Middle Ages, when an increase

60

German Peasants’ War, ed. and trans. by Scott and Scribner, p. 255. Damage to crops features prominently as a complaint in the demands made by the German peasants; see also for example the Articles of the Stühlinger peasants in Quellen zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges, ed. by Franz, p. 116. 61

Statutes of the Realm, II, 65.

62

For elaborate feasts, see e.g. Woolgar, ‘Fast and Feast’, pp. 19–22; Strong, Feast, pp. 73–106.

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in the number of bones of wild birds has been found in high-status sites.63 Swans in particular were symbolic of high status and nobility, alongside a wide variety of other birds, some quite unpalatable, which, so Albarella and Thomas claim, did not matter as much as making ‘an impression on an aristocratic table’.64 A charter dating from 1351 shows the importance and value attached to swans by the upper class. It concerns an agreement between the Priory and Convent of Lewes in Sussex and a certain Simon Baret regarding the rights over swans at the manor of Heacham in Norfolk, which was in the hands of the Priory and Convent of Lewes at that time. The charter notes that there were two breeding pairs of swans at Heacham, which had been ‘branded with the mark of Simon’. One of these pairs it was noted ‘nests on the north side of the said water, and the other pair on a cartwheel in the middle of the water’. It was agreed that any cygnets of the swans should be equally divided between them; ‘And if any of the nesting swans die, and the survivor mates with any other swan of either of the parties, the cygnets shall be divided as aforesaid.’65 Clearly swans were considered valuable enough to go through the trouble of writing up a charter as to their ownership and rights over their offspring. At the aristocratic household of Alice de Bryene in Suffolk between 29 September 1412 and 28 September 1413, six swans and five herons had been consumed, alongside fifteen partridges.66 The main wild bird consumed at Acton Hall, though, was the pigeon. In the year of 1412–13, 1548 pigeons were eaten, and in the account of 1419 a total of 1216 pigeons had been consumed by the household in that year, which had been provided by the lady’s dovecote at Acton.67 While pigeons might be considered more humble than swans, they are an important example of status, as peasants were not allowed to kill and hunt pigeons, which, as every gardener knows, can do untold damage to growing crops. While we know that Alice de Bryene was feeding her boonworkers loaves of wheaten bread with cheese, we can be pretty sure that they did not receive a share of the 336 pigeons

63

Albarella and Thomas, ‘They Dined on Crane’, pp. 24, 28, 29. See also Dale Serjeantson, ‘Birds: Food and a Mark of Status’, in Food in Medieval England, ed. by Woogar, Serjeantson, and Waldron, pp. 131–47. 64

Albarella and Thomas, ‘They Dined on Crane’, p. 36.

65

The Norfolk Portion of the Chartulary of the Priory of St Pancras of Lewes, ed. by J. H. Bullock, Norfolk Record Society, 12 (Norwich: Norfolk Record Society, 1939), p. 7. 66

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, pp. 1–102.

67

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, p. 134.

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which were being eaten at the high table in August 1413.68 Alongside the various wild birds consumed at the de Bryene table, rabbits, another nuisance animal as far as peasants were concerned, also made a frequent seasonal appearance from September to March, with most being eaten in December and January, leading to a total of 115 across the year. High status was also symbolized in the quantities and varieties of meat and dishes of fish, especially freshwater fish offered, as part of a growing trend of conspicuous consumption.69 On 1 January a feast was prepared in the de Bryene household, and the food provided included 354 loaves of bread, of which 314 were white, two whole pigs, two swans, twelve geese, two joints of mutton, twenty-four capons, seventeen conies, alongside beef, veal, five young pigs, and twelve gallons of milk, presumably used for pudding.70 Across the whole year twenty and one quarter of beef carcases were consumed, as well as forty-three pigs, forty-three geese, sixty-seven mutton joints, twenty-two lambs, seventy-eight chickens, eighty capons, seven hens, and one calf. For cooking, a total of ten gallons of fat from slaughtered pigs were used in 1419.71 The de Bryene household also consumed a staggering amount of fish. Again across the year 1412–13 over 109 salt fish were eaten, together with 119 stockfish, 4590 white herring, over 5000 oysters, 469 plaice, 1008 marling, 4588 smoked herring, 215 haddock, 31 codfish, 304 soles, over 1050 sparlings, 1 brill, 29 eels, unspecified numbers of mussels, 1 turbot, 57 garefish, 192 mackerel, 26 crabs, 2 crayfish, an unknown number of shrimps, 11 butts, 34 thornbacks, and 1800 humble whelks. While many of these fish and sea foods would have been fairly cheap and available for poorer households, others would have been out of the reach of most people, like the turbot purchased for 18d. in March or half the ‘flathe’ at 12d.; eels were not particularly cheap either, with eight being purchased on the same day for 18d., making them worth just over 2d. each, about a day’s wages for a labourer.72 Most of the spices found in the de Bryene household would only have been found among the rich. In 1412–13 twenty pounds of almonds had been bought, together with figs and raisins from Colchester; Valencia raisins had also been

68

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, pp. 94, 103.

69

Woolgar, ‘Fast and Feast’, p. 19; Strong, Feast, pp. 73–87. Christopher Dyer, ‘The Consumption of Freshwater Fish in Medieval England’, in Dyer, Everyday Life, pp. 101–11, esp. p. 110. 70

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, p. 28.

71

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, p. 133.

72

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, p. 49.

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purchased as well as currents, dates, sugar, rice, pepper, one pound of saffron at a cost of 13s., ginger, cinnamon, cloves, mace, and one gallon and one and a half quarters of honey, all at a total cost of 56s. 10½ d.73

III Conspicuous consumption among the upper classes was not new by the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. It had become, however, more important as a cultural delineator between the social classes after sharpened class conflict in the later fourteenth century, in which food itself became part of the battleground. Shifting socio-economic circumstances caused anxiety among the ruling classes, which called for enforcement in the differentiation in culinary cultures between the social classes. At the root of these developments were two main factors. The increased spending power of the peasantry, as well as the growing aspirations to personal freedom and market-led labour contracts, led peasants and labourers of the later Middle Ages to consume more meat and high-status wheat. On the other hand, in response to these developments, anxieties about peasants and labourers imitating the cuisine of the upper classes, expressed in statutes as well as in contemporary literature, led the wealthy to develop over time new strategies for differentiating their culinary cultures from those of their social inferiors. This was done by consuming more exotic meats, trying to keep the consumption of game the exclusive prerogative of the upper classes, as well as ostentatious displays of wealth at feasts. However, as the bishopric of Winchester evidence suggests, there was not necessarily a sudden shift in the types of foods consumed by the labouring classes after the Black Death. A trend towards more meat-based diets, for example, was clearly already happening before the Black Death, and sharpened post–Black Death conflict merely accelerated these developments.

73

Household Book of Dame Alice de Bryene, trans. by Dale and ed. by Redstone, pp.103–04.

R URAL R EVOLTS AND S TRUCTURAL C HANGE IN THE L OW C OUNTRIES, T HIRTEENTH – E ARLY F OURTEENTH C ENTURIES Bas J. P. van Bavel

Introduction

T

he historiography of rural revolts in the later Middle Ages is dominated by the three major revolts in France, England and Germany. Hundreds of studies have been written on the Jacquerie of 1358, the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, and the German Peasants’ War of 1525.1 Partly as a result of the high quality of these studies, as perhaps most notably Bond Men Made Free by Rodney Hilton, but also the work by Peter Blickle,2 these three revolts form the paragon of the rural revolt. This might lead to unjustified assumptions about the causes of later medieval revolts, for instance because of the timing of the French and English revolts, both occurring shortly after the Black Death. It is only logical that elements connected to this demographic catastrophe, such as attempts by lords For their suggestions I should like to thank Jan Dumolyn (University Gent) and Hans Mol (Fryske Akademy). 1 See the historiographical overview by Samuel K. Cohn, ‘Revolts of the Late Middle Ages and the Peculiarities of the English’, in this volume, and for the Peasants’ War, see Peter Blickle, ‘German Agrarian History During the Second Half of the Twentieth Century’, in Rural History in the North Sea Area: An Overview of Recent Research (Middle Ages–Twentieth Century), CORN Publication Series, 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2006), pp. 147–75 (esp. pp. 152–55). 2

Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (repr. London: Routledge, 2003 with a new introduction by Christopher Dyer), and Peter Blickle, Die Revolution von 1525 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2004). Both of these classic works, originally written in 1973 and 1975 respectively, have had a new edition recently.

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to maintain the level of rents and the increasing bargaining power of labour due to labour shortages, and the reduced respect for authority, figure prominently among the explanations for these revolts.3 This even more so since rural revolts occurring just before the Black Death, in a period of rising population numbers, are largely absent from the historiography. Geographically, too, there is major lacuna, since the Low Countries are mostly missing from this picture. The discussion of the revolts in the Low Countries is often limited to urban examples, mainly taken from highly urbanized Flanders.4 However, in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, in the period before the Black Death, the south-eastern shores of the North Sea saw some of the biggest rural revolts of late medieval Europe, with large parts of the rural population of whole regions rising against their rulers. These revolts occurred in coastal Frisia, Stedingen, Drenthe, Holland, and coastal Flanders, with two of these belonging to the very few successful rural insurrections of the period. Despite their historical significance, these revolts have not received much attention,5 perhaps also because much of the limited research on them is published in Dutch and German. This contribution aims to bring these revolts in the Low Countries to the fore and place them in a wider social and economic context. In order to do this, and to analyse and understand these revolts better, use is made here of the research done in recent years into the social distribution of property in the late medieval Low Countries, especially at a regional level, which attempts to understand the longterm development of regional social property structures. Linking these new insights with the data on the rural revolts can perhaps allow us to comprehend these better. It will be investigated whether the insurgents were those who had profited from preceding developments and were gaining in the field of property distribution, and now tried to consolidate their gains, or those who were losing out to other social groups. Also, it will be investigated to what extent the revolts, and their success or failure, brought about fundamental changes in social property structures. How do these revolts fit in the process of structural changes taking place in the late

3 A line of reasoning implicitly criticized by Rodney H. Hilton, ‘Peasant Movements in England before 1381’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, 2 (1949), 117–36, who pointed to the beginning of significant peasant resistance in England already in the early thirteenth century. 4

See, for instance, Popular Protest in Late-Medieval Europe: Italy, France, and Flanders, ed. by Samuel K. Cohn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), which focuses almost solely on urban revolts in Flanders and northern France. 5

Except for the Flemish revolt, they are all absent from the extensive overview by Hilton, Bond Men Made Free, pp. 63–95.

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medieval Low Countries? In trying to answer these questions, I will also compare these with the series of smaller revolts in the Flemish towns of the decades around 1300, in order to extend the comparison and to arrive at broader conclusions.

Rural Revolts in the Low Countries, Thirteenth to the Early Fourteenth Centuries When assessing the occurrence of revolts, or armed resistance of the rural population against authorities or self-proclaimed authorities, in the medieval Low Countries, immediately a marked geographical and chronological concentration becomes apparent. Geographically these revolts are concentrated in the northern coastal zones of the Low Countries. The heart of this coastal area was Frisia, or Greater Frisia — the designation for an area stretching from Holland in the West to far into present-day Germany in the east. Here, and in the directly surrounding regions, revolts and armed resistance had been a recurrent phenomenon during the eleventh and twelfth centuries,6 but the incidence of revolts intensified and reached a clear peak in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. One of the biggest of revolts took place in Stedingen, an area in the delta of the river Weser, north of Bremen. This region was situated east of the proper Frisian territory, but still closely related to it, since it was inhabited by Hollanders and mainly Frisians who cleared and reclaimed the area for settlement from the late eleventh century onwards. These settlers were attracted by the freedom, secure property rights, and low taxes offered to them. By the early thirteenth century, Stedingen had developed into a society of well-off peasants, with a large degree of freedom.7 The Archbishop of Bremen and the Count of Oldenburg, however, tried to curtail the rights of the rural population, and to raise taxes, which led to a revolt

6

Heinrich Schmidt, ‘Hochmittelalterliche “Bauernaufstände” im südlichen Nordseeküstengebiet’, in Grundherrschaft und Bäuerliche Gesellschaft im Hochmittelalter, ed. by Werner Rösener (Göttingen: Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts für Geschichte, 1995), pp. 413–42 (esp. pp. 416–28). 7

This libertas of the Stedingers is also mentioned in an early fourteenth-century source, the Rasteder Chronik. It would be incorrect, however, to equate this freedom with the nineteenth/twentieth-century liberal notion of freedom, as rightly remarked by Rolf Köhn, ‘Freiheit als Forderung und Ziel bäuerlichen Widerstandes, 11.–13. Jh.’, in Die abendländische Freiheit vom 10. zum 14. Jahrhundert: der Wirkungszusammenhang von Idee und Wirklichkeit im europäischen Vergleich, ed. by Johannes Fried, Vorträge und Forschungen, 39 (Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke, 1991), pp. 325–87 (esp. pp. 325–34).

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in 1204, proclaimed by the Thing or popular assembly. The Stedingers defended themselves by building fortifications and forming militias, while refusing to pay these taxes and tithes. Archbishop Gerhard II of Bremen excommunicated the peasants in 1228, under the accusation of worshipping evil spirits and other pagan practises.8 The Archbishop even convinced the Pope to declare a crusade against the rebels in 1232. An army of crusaders was initially repelled by the Stedingers, although many men, women, and children were killed by the bloodthirsty crusaders, of whom some two hundred perished. Finally, the Archbishop managed to defeat the Stedingers in the battle of Altenesch in 1234 with a large army of crusaders, with noblemen from all over the Low Countries, led by the Duke of Brabant and including the Counts of Guelders, Cleves, Holland, Jülich, and Berg, the Bishop of Utrecht, and many noblemen from Flanders and Brabant.9 Some five to six thousand Stedingers were killed during and after the battle. Subsequently, in order to subdue the region, the victorious Archbishop, the Count of Oldenburg, and his vassals built several fortifications in the region and distributed properties of the vanquished rebels among the noblemen who had participated in the crusade. Also in the first half of the thirteenth century, more or less simultaneous with the Stedingen revolt, a revolt broke out in Drenthe (1225–40). This was a region in the north-east of the present-day Netherlands, where the slow occupation of the infertile sandy soils had brought the peasants into possession of much of the land. Attempts to change the strong position of peasant freeholders and their fairly autonomous organizations from without were fiercely and successfully resisted, to the shame of the Bishop of Utrecht. The Drenthe peasants feared that the Bishop, increasing his princely power in Drenthe, wanted to bring them more firmly under his political overlordship, or even reduce them to serfdom, and strongly opposed him.10 The Bishop tried to crush their resistance with a large army of noblemen, including the Counts of Holland, Guelders, Bentheim, and Cleves, and supported by the Bishops

8

Rolf Köhn, ‘Die Verketzerung der Stedinger durch die Bremer Fastensynode’, Bremisches Jahrbuch, 57 (1979), 15–85. 9

Rolf Köhn, ‘Die Teilnehmer an den Kreuzzügen gegen die Stedinger’, Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch, 53 (1981), 139–206. 10

Bernard H. Slicher van Bath, ‘Drenthe’s vrijheid’, Bijdragen voor de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 1 (1946), 161–96 (esp. pp. 170–71), stressing the fear of the Drents for manorialism, and F. H. J. Dieperink, ‘De Drentse opstand tegen het bisschoppelijke gezag in 1227’, in Dieperink, Diederik Thodorus Enklaar, and W. Jappe Alberts, Studiën betreffende de geschiedenis van OostNederland van de dertiende tot de vijftiende eeuw (Utrecht: Bijdr. Inst. ME, 1953), pp. 1–37, stressing more their antipathy against the levying of tithes and the princely authority of the Bishop.

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of Cologne and Münster, but they were defeated in 1227 by the Drents, who killed the Bishop and some four hundred nobles, who were hunted down in the swamps by peasant men and women, ‘fighting like wild animals’.11 More battles followed, with the later bishops supported by Frisians from Friesland proper and, on other occasions, also by noblemen from Twente and Salland, to the south of Drenthe who were rewarded with a papal indulgence. In 1240, this struggle ended in compromise. The princely overlordship of the Bishop of Utrecht would not be resisted anymore, but he was not able to impose heavy punishments on the Drents. Also, the few elements of manorialism present there decayed in following years. This power contest thus ended in a draw, or perhaps even a moral victory for the Drents. In 1274–75 a revolt by the countrymen of the Kennemerland, in the north of Holland, was later joined by the populations of Waterland and West Frisia.12 This revolt did not come out of the blue; the Westfrisians had already had a dozen armed clashes with the Count of Holland and his representatives in the century before, using ambushes and other guerrilla tactics to attack their Holland enemies, and in 1256 even succeeding in killing the Count of Holland, King William II.13 The rebels demanded respect for their self-governing powers and for their customary organization of the distribution and levying of local and central taxes. They resisted the growing power of noblemen and comital representatives, who undermined the power of villages, and eroded their rights and customs in general. The rebels destroyed most of the fortified houses of the noblemen in the region and threatened to move ever further south. Frightened, the Count of Holland decided to meet most of the demands made by the rebels, thus bringing the revolt to an end in 1275. The concessions in the sphere of self-government in local justice, fiscality, water management, and the administration of collective goods were laid down in a charter granted to Kennemerland by Count Floris V.14 Later on, this charter with some slight alterations was also granted to the rural population of Waterland and West Frisia. This, however, was not the end of revolts in the northern parts of

11

Gerrit Overdiep, De slag bij Ane, 1227 (Peize: [n.pub.], 1977), pp. 27–34.

12

D. P. Blok, ‘Drie boerenopstanden uit de dertiende eeuw’, Academiae analecta, 56 (1994), 77–96 (p. 79). 13

Ronald P. de Graaf, Oorlog om Holland, 1000–1375 (Hilversum: Verloren, 1996), pp. 228–46. 14

Peter C. M. Hoppenbrouwers, ‘Op zoek naar de “kerels”: De dorpsgemeente in de dagen van graaf Floris V’, in Wi Florens . . . De Hollandse graaf Floris V in de Samenleving van de Dertiende Eeuw, ed. by D. E. H. de Boer, E. H. P. Cordfunke, and H. Sarfatij (Utrecht: Uitgeverij Matrijs, 1996), pp. 224–42 (esp. pp. 228–29).

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Holland. In 1297 the Westfrisians rose again, but their militia was defeated by the Count of Holland and his noblemen, with probably three to four thousand rebels killed in battle. In the years 1306–10 there was another revolt, of which hardly anything is known from the sources, and in 1324 and 1346 the northern regions rose again.15 In all these cases, the rural revolts were ignited by fiscal matters and grievances about the centralization of public administration, and were intended to defend regional liberties. A similar struggle between the rural population and the advancing power of territorial lords can be observed in central parts of Frisia too, such as in Friesland proper. Here, no territorial lord held any princely power, although the Count of Holland tried to claim this. In 1345 he attacked Friesland by sea, with an armada of three hundred to five hundred ships, carrying an army of about fifteen thousand noblemen and soldiers. However, he was defeated by the Frisians in the battle of Stavoren, where most of the Holland army was killed, including the Count himself.16 This could be labelled a revolt, but perhaps rather was the defence or resistance against self-proclaimed sovereignty by an outsider. The biggest revolt in the late medieval Low Countries broke out in coastal Flanders. Here, from 1323 onwards, a rural revolt combined with discontent in the Flemish towns about taxation, the monopolization of power by a small, closed patriciate, and abuses in town government, in what became the biggest and longestlasting revolt of later medieval Western Europe.17 The uprising in the Flemish countryside was induced by resentment about the abuses of taxation, the more since they were destined for indemnity payments to the hated French king. Perhaps unrest was also fuelled by socio-economic changes including the introduction of short-term leasing, the rise of wage labour, the extension of urban landownership, 15

Peter C. M. Hoppenbrouwers, ‘Rebels with a Cause: The Peasant Movement of Northern Holland in the Later Middle Ages’, in Showing Status: Representation of Social Positions in the Late Middle Ages, ed. by Wim P. Blockmans and Antheun Janse (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), pp. 445–82. 16 Antheun Janse, Grenzen aan de Macht: De Friese Oorlog van de Graven van Holland Omstreeks 1400 (’s-Gravenhage: SDU. Uitgeverij, 1993), pp. 54–59. For the wider context, see J. A. Mol, ‘Graaf Willem IV, de Hollands-Friese oorlog van 1344/1345 en de Friese kloosters’, in Negen eeuwen Friesland-Holland: Geschiedenis van een Haat-LiefdeverHouding, ed. by Philippus H. Breuker and Antheun Janse (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 1997), pp. 94–108. 17

Jacques Sabbe, Vlaanderen in Opstand 1323–1328: Nikolaas Zannekin, Zeger Janszone en Willem de Deken (Brugge: Van de Wiele, 1993), pp. 22–35, 55–62 and 77–85; William H. TeBrake, A Plague of Insurrection: Popular Politics and Peasant Revolt in Flanders, 1323–1328 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), pp. 57–60, 71–86, 112–22 and 139–56.

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mounting debts of peasants, and new forms of social inequality. Such changes were strong in coastal Flanders at the time. Hatred at first turned against comital bailiffs and tax-collectors, who were taken prisoner by the insurgents, increasingly supported by the non-patrician population of several towns. In the second phase of the revolt, demands and actions of the insurgents became more radical, aimed against the nobility and patriciate, against large landownership and the levying of tithes, thus acquiring a revolutionary character. The core of the revolt was again formed in the countryside, with peasants and semi-proletarianized countrymen, led by members of the peasant elite and prosperous farmers, joining forces with the artisans and craftsmen from many Flemish cities. The rural insurgents used the organizations they had developed in the High Middle Ages, such as the village communities and assemblies, and they used their century-long experience in association. Village leaders were delegated to regional bodies, giving coherence to the revolt, and captains were chosen to lead the revolt and to replace the comital bailiffs. These captains convened courts and collected public taxes and revenues, providing a strong organization for the revolt, with public authority over the major part of Flanders fairly effectively taken over by the insurgents for several years. Nobility and princes from all over Western Europe feared that the revolt would be an example to other regions. They set aside all their internal conflicts to fight this threat jointly, supported by the pope, using his religious weapons of interdict and excommunication. An army of three thousand to four thousand mounted noblemen and twelve thousand soldiers and foreign mercenaries, led by the King of France, the Count of Holland, and the Dukes of Bretagne and Burgundy, defeated the rebels in 1328.18 In the final battle, near Cassel, more than three thousand insurgents were killed. The repression was harsh, with the horrific execution of the leaders of the revolt (burning some of them with hot iron and breaking their arms and legs before killing them), the execution of thousands of insurgents, sometimes without a trial, the confiscation of the goods of the insurgents, the imposition of enormous indemnity payments, and the withdrawal of the privileges and by-laws of towns and rural districts. All this was intended to prevent people from ever contemplating a revolt again. Thus, four big rural revolts took place in the Low Countries in a time span of just over a century before the Black Death, along with several smaller revolts or disturbances. Striking is the degree of success of these revolts, either spanning several years before their suppression or being victorious.

18

TeBrake, Plague of Insurrection, pp. 119–22.

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Social Profile of the Clashing Parties It is difficult to obtain a clear idea of the social composition of the rebellious countrymen due to lack of sources.19 We have to content ourselves with contemporary or later chronicles, often written by clerical authors, who spent little energy on describing the rebels or simply used pejorative clichés to designate them. The contemporary chronicle by Emo, abbot of the nearby Abbey of Bloemhof, describes how the Drenthe rebels consisted of two groups: some rebellious noble leaders from Drenthe and the Drenthe population. This last group, or the two groups together, are designated as ‘the Drents’, as in the passage where the episcopal noblemen were slaughtered by the Drents and died pitifully.20 The detailed narrative on Groningen and Drenthe, written during the revolt, also designates the insurgents as ‘the Drents’, but also as ‘the whole of Drenthe’ (tota Drenta).21 Also interesting is the passage which describes how ‘the women of the land’ (mulieres de terra) also fought in the battle, not yielding to the men in bloodthirstiness. Similarly, the rebels in Stedingen are designated with the name of their region, as in the charters issued by the Pope in 1231 and 1233: ‘de hominibus qui Stedigni dicitur’. The chronicle of the Monastery of Rastede uses the same term: ‘eosdem Stedicgos’.22 The contemporary chronicle of Bloemhof mentions how Dominican monks preaching against the Stedingers mentioned them in the same breath with two other rebellious people of the first half of the thirteenth century as equal to each other in disobedience: ‘Stathingos, Threntones et Fivelgones pares esse propter inobedientiam.’23 All these sources employ the name of the region to designate the

19

See the careful reconstruction by Christopher Dyer, ‘The Rising of 1381 in Suffolk: Its Origins and Participants’, in Dyer, Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994), pp. 221–39. 20

Kroniek van het Klooster Bloemhof te Wittewierum, ed. by Hubertus P. H. Janse and Antheun Janse (Hilversum: Verloren, 1991), p. 223. 21

Een Verhaal over Groningen, Drente, Coevorden en Allerlei Andere Zaken onder Verschillende Utrechtse Bisschoppen (Quedam Narracio de Groninghe, de Thrente, de Covordia et de Diversis aliis sub Diversis Episcopis Traiectensibus), ed. by Hans van Rij (Hilversum: Verloren, 1989), pp. 44, 48, 50, and 68. 22

Bremisches Urkundenbuch, vol. I, ed. by Diedrich R. Ehmck and Wilhelm von Bippen (Bremen: Historische Kommission, 1873), nos 166 (1231) and 176 (1233), and ‘Historia monasterii Rastedensis’, in MGH Scriptores, 25, ed. by Georg Waitz (Hannover: Hahn, 1880), pp. 495–512 (esp. pp. 504–06). 23

Kroniek van het Klooster Bloemhof, ed. by Janse and Janse, pp. 240–41.

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rebels. This implies a regional character of the revolt and broad support within the population of the region. Sometimes the sources are more specific about the rebels. In his chronicle from the mid-fourteenth century, Johannes de Beke describes how in 1275 ‘the common people’ of Kennemerland (vulgus Kinemarie) rebelled against the noblemen,24 indicating the ordinary background of the rebels. The writer of a contemporary chronicle described the Kennemer people (Kenemarorum gens) in 1324 as hostile towards noblemen and very proud, specifically labelling them as peasants: ‘dictis rusticis’.25 In Stedingen, the people starting the revolt were the incole terre illius, which probably means the owner-occupiers of the land in this region.26 It is explicitly mentioned in the sources that one family from the gentry joined the revolt, but all further noblemen were expelled. The Stedinger revolt was clearly carried out and organized by the non-noble rural population. The only case where a direct insight in the total composition of the rebellious forces can be gained is that of coastal Flanders, thanks to two inventories drawn up in order to confiscate the goods of the insurgents. The biggest inventory gives an overview of the real property of 3185 insurgents killed at the Battle of Cassel.27 Of these, 28 per cent owned no real property (or were ‘living-in’ youngsters), while 9 per cent owned only a house, and 63 per cent a house and some land. Most of the latter owned less than two hectares, a third two to eight hectares, and a small fraction (3 per cent of the total) owned more than eight hectares. The majority were therefore smallholding peasants. In these four revolts, although also a few local noblemen were sometimes involved, the bulk of the rebels consisted of peasants, with a large share of the rural population of that particular region actively involved in the revolt. The rebels often employed the existing organizations of rural society, like the rural communities. This applied to coastal Flanders, as noted above, but also for West Frisia, where

24

Chronographia Johannis de Beke, ed. by Hans Bruch (’s-Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1973), p. 219; Johannes de Beke, ed. by Hans Bruch (’s-Gravenhage: Nijhoff, 1982), p. 142. 25

Willem Procurator Kroniek, ed. by Marijke Gumbert-Hepp (Hilversum: Verloren, 2001), pp. 344–47. 26

Heinrich Schmidt, ‘Zur Geschichte der Stedinger: Studien über Bauernfreiheit, Herrschaft und Religion an der Unterweser im 13. Jahrhundert’, Bremisches Jahrbuch, 60/61 (1982/83), 27–94 (esp. pp. 38–40). 27

TeBrake, Plague of Insurrection, pp. 139–44; J. Mertens, ‘Les Confiscations dans la Châtellenie du Franc de Bruges après la bataille de Cassel’, Handelingen van de Koninklijke Commissie voor Geschiedenis (1968), 239–84, although the latter inventory only lists the most propertied among the rebels.

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villagers were used to choosing their delegates for regional meetings, the warven, while all adult Westfrisians met once a year on a general assembly, where decisions about defence were taken, with the obligation of all Westfrisians over twelve years old to fight when Westfriesland was invaded.28 As they rose in 1275 the Westfrisians could build on their communitas communitatum Westfrisie and their general warf, with its well-developed organization, which included its own counsellors and seals. Equally strong inter-local or regional organizations existed in neighbouring Kennemerland, where the whole community revolted against the nobles.29 In all of the revolting regions, the ordinary population of the countryside traditionally had a large degree of personal freedom and firm property rights to the land. The common feature of these regions was a virtual absence of manorialism. In Holland, only on the most fertile parts were some traces of manorial organization to be found, but in the large peat areas these were absent. In Drenthe, too, manorialism was very weak. The soil here was too poor to render this system profitable, and the position of the landowning peasants had become secure due to their leading role in the gradual process of land reclamation in the preceding centuries. Frisia cannot be characterized as a peasant society, since the region was rather characterized by substantial farmers and a large group of gentleman-farmers and lower noblemen (the hoofdelingen). Still, it had in common with the other regions that the feudal system and classical manorialism had always been weak, coupled with a longstanding tradition of freedom for a relatively large segment of the population. At the latest in the eleventh century some idea of ‘Frisian freedom’ had crystallized.30 Relatively many people here were free, held free property, and had full access to offices and political participation. This was legitimized by the socalled Privilege of Charlemagne,31 in which the Emperor according to the Frisian tradition, or invented tradition, had granted the Frisians their freedom and self-

28

de Graaf, Oorlog om Holland, pp. 219–20; Hoppenbrouwers, ‘Rebels with a Cause’, pp. 479–82. 29

Chronographia Johannis de Beke, ed. by Bruch, pp. 219–21; Johannes de Beke, ed. by Bruch, p. 142. 30

Wifred Ehbrecht, ‘Gemeinschaft, Land und Bund im Friesland des 12. bis 14. Jahrhunderts’, in Die Friesische Freiheit des Mittelalters, ed. by Hajo van Lengen (Aurich: Ostfriesische Landschaft, 2003), pp. 134–93 (esp. pp. 161–63). 31

H. Schmidt, ‘Friesische Freiheitsüberlieferungen im hohen Mittelalter’, in Festschrift für Hermann Heimpel zum 70. Geburtstag, part III, Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts für Geschichte, 36 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1972), pp. 518–45 (pp. 535–38); Oebele Vries, Het Heilige Roomse Rijk en de Friese vrijheid (Leeuwarden: De Tille, 1986), pp. 21–27.

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organization, an idea which held great popularity among the Frisians in the thirteenth century. In Holland and coastal Flanders, the freedom and secure hold over land of the rural population originated in the fairly recent occupation of peat or coastal areas by peasant-colonizers, in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. In Holland, the numerous colonists, carrying out the hard clearing work, were granted their freedom and gained de facto ownership over the land. They only had to pay a small nominal rent, as a recognition of the right of the count as territorial lord.32 The issuer (or ‘seller’/vercoper) of the land, a territorial lord or large institution, often only retained the tithes and the jurisdiction, often granted in feudal tenure to the person or institution who actually organized and led the reclamation in question, the locator.33 The land itself was controlled almost solely by free peasant-colonizers. In other coastal areas too, large-scale reclamation resulted in the freedom of peasants.34 Most notably, this was in the marshlands in the north of Germany, where the settlers originated in part from Holland and other parts of the Low Countries. Many characteristics of the occupation of Holland were copied in the north-German/East-Frisian marshlands, such as the small recognition fee a peasant would pay and their jurisdictional prerogatives, although the degree of freedom obtained was less outspoken and less general than in Holland.35 Still, the Stedingers drew on a similar background as many free Holland peasants. The simultaneous developments in the Flemish coastal plains were in some ways similar to those in the Holland peat area, in particular the freedom offered to the hospites attracted to this area and the near absence of manorial organization. But there were also differences. The Flemish count was not only a territorial lord, but also a large landowner in the Flemish coastal plain, and he had handed over many of his land rights to religious institutions and rich burghers, often by way of

32

Hendrik van der Linden, De Cope: Bijdrage tot de Rechtsgeschiedenis van de Openlegging der Hollands-Utrechtse Laagvlakte (Utrecht: van Gorcum, 1955), pp. 160–82, and van der Linden, ‘Het platteland in het Noordwesten met nadruk op de. occupatie circa 1000–1300’, Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, 2 (1982), 69–78. 33

van der Linden, De Cope, pp. 93–95.

34

Bryce Lyon, ‘Medieval Real Estate Developments and Freedom’, American Historical Review, 63 (1957), 47–61. 35

Walter Schlesinger, ‘Flemmingen und Kühren: Zur Siedlungsform niederlandischer Siedlungen des 12. Jahrhunderts im Mitteldeutschen Osten’, in Die Deutsche Ostsiedlung des Mittelalters als Problem der Europäischen Geschichte, ed. by Walter Schlesinger (Reichenau: Vorträge, 1975), pp. 209–60.

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sale. Later embankments and winning of new polders, too, were mainly completed through the investments made by rich burghers and institutions (c. 1180–1300).36 The result was that more large landownership developed here than in the Holland peatlands, and this became mainly exploited by way of short-term leasing.37 Still, here too, peasant landownership originally seems to have been dominant. All five rebelling regions had in common that a relatively large share of the land was held in free ownership by the ordinary rural population, without large-scale manorialism or strong lordly power. In Drenthe and Holland even the great majority of the land was owned by peasants, at around four-fifths of the land.38 The situation in these regions was not found in all parts of the Low Countries. In several regions, as in Salland, the Guelders river area, the Hesbaye, or Zeeland, this share was only a quarter of the land or less, with most of the land in the hands of noblemen and religious institutions. This clearly differed from the landownership structures in the rebellious regions. The five regions also had in common that the self-organization of the rural population was well developed. In regions such as northern Holland and Drenthe, the village community held a strong position. In Drenthe, a region of infertile sandy soils with large wastelands, the strength of the peasant communities was particularly expressed in their hold over the commons, which were managed by the village boards formed mainly by free peasants.39 In East Frisia, West Frisia/northern

36 Erik Thoen, ‘A “Commercial Survival Economy” in Evolution: The Flemish Countryside and the Transition to Capitalism (Middle Ages–19th Century)’, in Peasants into Farmers? The Transformation of Rural Economy and Society in the Low Countries (Middle Ages–19th Century) in Light of the Brenner Debate, ed. by Jan L. van Zanden and Peter C. M. Hoppenbrouwers (Turnhout: Brepols, 2001), pp. 102–49, esp. pp. 125–26, and, for the power of the Flemish count, see Dries Tys, ‘Domeinvorming in de “wildernis” en de ontwikkeling van vorstelijke macht: Het voorbeeld van het bezit van de graven van Vlaanderen in het IJzerestuarium tussen 900 en 1200’, Jaarboek voor middeleeuwse geschiedenis, 7 (2004), 31–83. 37

Tim Soens and Erik Thoen, ‘The Origins of Leasehold in the Former County of Flanders’, in The Development of Leasehold in Northwestern Europe, c. 1200–1600, ed. by Bas J. P. van Bavel and Phillip R. Schofield (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), pp. 31–55. 38

Bas J. P. van Bavel, ‘Structures of Landownership, Mobility of Land and Farm Sizes: Diverging Developments in the Northern Parts of the Low Countries, c. 1300–c. 1650’, in Landholding and Land Transfer in the North Sea Area (Late Middle Ages – 19th Century), ed. by Bas J. P. van Bavel and Peter C. M. Hoppenbrouwers (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 131–48 (esp., pp. 132–35). 39

Jan L. van Zanden, ‘The Paradox of the Marks: The Exploitation of Commons in the Eastern Netherlands, 1250–1850’, Agricultural History Review, 47 (1999), 125–44.

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Holland, and coastal Flanders the self-organization of the rural population was expressed also in the area of water management. In these coastal areas, the village community, at the same time jurisdictional, fiscal, military, and ecclesiastical unity, often overlapped with the organization for water management.40 The latter organizations were formed as coniurationes of colonist associations bound by an oath, as most clearly in peatland Holland and the adjacent parts of the Nedersticht Utrecht. Here, already in the twelfth century or perhaps even before, free confederations were responsible for water management, stimulated by the constant threat of the water, necessitating cooperation and communal organization. The territorial lord tried to obtain more grip on these organizations, particularly from the thirteenth century onwards, but his success remained limited, without corroding the communal essence. In Holland, even the big regional water district boards remained to a large extent autonomous, as in the large district of Rijnland, where in the thirteenth century communis terrae consiliarii made up the common council. This council was not appointed by the Count of Holland, but it had the right of cooptation, again pointing to its communal roots. In coastal Flanders, in the course of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, this situation became eroded, as water management boards increasingly became dominated by wealthy landowners,41 but in the other regions a broad participation of the rural population remained. In Frisia, the self-organization of the rural population perhaps went furthest. By the weakness of feudal organization and the near absence of authority of territorial lords, a tradition had developed of free people feeling themselves directly placed under the king, without a role for princes or territorial lords in between. They had started to organize their autonomous communities already in the eleventh century, perhaps with a prominent role of local powerful, but with a broad participation of free countrymen in public matters developing already in the twelfth century. The rural associations had little to gain anymore from the rise of territorial lords, or rather they feared to lose, and thus resisted their ambitions. In the thirteenth century, the organization of communities here further proceeded, with the appearance of the redjeven/consules/grietmannen, judges and representatives, appointed by the community.42 At the same time, in the Frisian districts 40

Hendrik van der Linden, Recht en Territoir: Een Rechtshistorisch-Sociografische Verkenning (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1972), pp. 10–26. 41 Tim Soens, ‘Polders zonder poldermodel? Een onderzoek naar de rol van inspraak en overleg in de waterstaat van de laatmiddeleeuwse Vlaamse kustvlakte (1250–1600)’, Tijdschrift voor sociale en economische geschiedenis, 3 (2006), 3–36. 42

Ehbrecht, ‘Gemeinschaft, Land und Bund’, pp. 154–60.

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some twenty-five terrae or lands developed, with their own boards, consisting of the joint representatives of the land. This was a crown on the dominance of selfgovernment of the Frisian communities, remaining unbroken up to the fifteenth/ sixteenth centuries. It was particularly this independent nature and the autonomous associations of the Frisians and East Frisians, without any control of secular or higher ecclesiastical authorities, that nettled the territorial lords, church leaders, and noblemen. This appears, for instance, at the Bremer Synod in 1231, as the Stedingers were condemned of superstitious practises because of their sworn associations.43 The people of Fivelgo were reproached with a similar transgression, as around 1235 they had sworn a communal oath against the bishop. As the Abbot of Bloemhof remarked in his contemporary chronicle,44 this was a clear violation of canon law, since this condemns the craftiness of such a sworn association and explicitly prohibits the associations. The communal and associative character of the revolts came perhaps clearest to light in the revolt of the Kennemers in 1275, who apparently aimed for an extension of communality over a much wider area. As explicitly stated in a mid-fourteenth-century chronicle,45 they aimed to bring the entire princebishopric of Utrecht (covering large parts of the present-day Netherlands) into one common community (in vulgarem communitatem redigere) with all people brought together in community (in the Dutch version of the chronicle: alle dat Sticht Utrecht ghemeent volc maken). In these struggles, the opposite side in the revolt was headed by a count, princebishop, or king. In all cases these territorial lords could count on a strong support and solidarity of secular and ecclesiastical noblemen. Noblemen and princes, up to hundreds of kilometres away from the revolting region, came to fight. Sometimes this solidarity even crossed long quarrels or rivalries, as with the counts/princes of Holland, Utrecht, and Guelders, who stepped over their century-long political rivalry in order to combat the revolting Drents in united action. A second striking

43

Otto G. Oexle, ‘Gilden als soziale Gruppen in der Karolingerzeit’, in Das Handwerk in vorund frühgeschichtlicher Zeit, part I, Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen, 122, ed. by Herbert Jankuhn and others (Göttingen: Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Instituts für Geschichte, 1981), pp. 284–354, esp. pp. 322–23. 44 45

Kroniek van het Klooster Bloemhof, ed. by Janse and Janse, pp. 242–43.

Chronographia Johannis de Beke, ed. by Bruch, pp. 219–21, and Johannes de Beke, ed. by Bruch, p. 142. In writing these passages, Beke drew from a reliable, contemporary Utrecht source, which is now lost: D. P. Blok, ‘Beke’s bron voor de Kennemer opstand’, in Egmond tussen kerk en wereld, ed. by G. N. M. Vis (Hilversum: Verloren, 1993), pp. 225–28.

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aspect is the support of the Church for the noble/princely party, either by way of the active involvement of bishops in the repression, as most notably in the cases of Stedingen and Drenthe, or by way of the employment of religious weapons, such as the interdict (in coastal Flanders), the offering of indulgences for the combatants of the rebellion (as in Drenthe), or even the proclamation of a crusade by the pope (as in Stedingen). The possibility to draw noble and ecclesiastical support from a very wide area proved a great asset in the repression of these regional revolts.

Wider Social and Economic Context These rebelling regions thus each had a tradition of freedom and communal association in the countryside, enabling fairly broad groups in rural society to participate in jurisdiction, legislation, religion, water management, and exploitation of land. How can the occurrence of the general, massive wave of revolts, in the thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries, in these regions be explained? The key seems to lie in the infringements on the social, economic, and political position of the rural population in these regions, coming from various sides and intensifying exactly in this period. One set of changes is found in the rise of the factor markets, a rise which undermined the cohesiveness of rural societies and which effects undermined the relatively even spread of power and property in these regions. Markets for goods had become more important in the Low Countries already in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but now — in the thirteenth/early fourteenth centuries — also land, lease, labour, and capital markets started to emerge.46 The decisive period in the emergence of land and lease markets in the Low Countries was in the thirteenth century, as the system of competitive, short-term leasing started to spread and the land market took off.47 This resulted in increasing competition and social polarization, and also led to the erosion of rural communities. Also, the rise of wage labour and new forms of social inequality and economic dependency gave rise to social dislocations and conflict, thus fuelling other discontent. The clearest example of

46

Bas J. P. van Bavel, ‘Markets for Land, Labour and Capital Between Town and Countryside, 12 –16 th Centuries: Northern Italy and the Low Countries Compared’, unpublished paper (Utrecht, 2007). th

47

Bas J. P. van Bavel, ‘The Land Market in the North Sea Area from a Comparative Perspective, 13th–18th Centuries’, in Il mercato della terra secc. XIII– XVIII: Atti delle ‘Settimane di Studi’ e altri convegni, vol. XXXV , ed. by Simonetta Cavaciocchi (Prato: Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica, 2003), pp. 119–45.

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this is found in coastal Flanders, where these elements resulted in a rupture in social property structures. In several parts of coastal Flanders, peasants started losing their landownership in the late thirteenth century, going hand in hand with the introduction and spread of the competitive system of short-term leasing and the sale of rents on land, further sharpening the process of polarization.48 Perhaps even more important in sowing the seeds of discontent in these regions was a particular set of socio-political factors. In this field, too, the thirteenth century saw various changes, creating tension particularly with the tradition of selforganization developed in these regions. The eleventh to twelfth centuries had seen the emergence of territorial principalities in the Low Countries. Some regionally powerful lords grew into territorial lords, gradually making their power more territorial instead of personal, and slowly removing rivalling claims within this territory, a process well underway in the twelfth century, as well-documented for the Niederrhein area.49 In the thirteenth century, a next phase started, with the princes extending and intensifying their administrative and fiscal power over their territories and aiming to eliminate enclaves or unclear border zones, as a last phase in the territorialization of their principalities. In all four regions this process can be observed, including the tensions this provoked. Partly, these were the result of the introduction of fiscality and a growing tax pressure, felt as an infringement of the existing absence or light weight of levies in these regions. But also there was the introduction of princely officers and central administration, forming attacks on selfgovernment and a reduction of the power of local communities. The tension this provoked was even sharpened by the fact that the extension of princely territorial organization went hand in hand with a strengthening of the noble element, with noblemen appearing in the wake of growing princely power, in their capacity of administrators, military governors, or bailiffs, while exactly in these regions the noble presence always had been weak. This must have been felt by the rural population as an erosion of the tradition of independence and freedom from feudal elements. The tradition of freedom and communal association in the countryside and the real and perceived infringements of these relative freedoms in the thirteenth

48

Tim Soens and Erik Thoen, ‘Appauvrissement et endettement dans le monde rural: étude comparative du crédit dans les différents systèmes agraires en Flandre au bas Moyen Âge et au début de l’Époque Moderne’, in Il mercato della terra, ed. by Cavaciocchi, pp. 703–20. 49 Hermann Aubin, Die Entstehung der Landeshoheit nach niederrheinischen Quellen: Studien über Grafschaft, Immunität und Vogtei (Bonn: Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde der Rheinlande, 1961), pp. 380–422, and Wilhelm Janssen, ‘Niederrheinische Territorialbildung: Voraussetzungen, Wege, Probleme’, in Soziale und wirtschaftliche Bindungen, ed. by Edith Ennen and Klaus Flink (Kleve: Stadtarchiv Kleve, 1981), pp. 95–113.

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century were thus crucial in the outbreak of these rural revolts. In this sense, there are clear parallels with the towns in many parts of the Low Countries. Here, too, in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries horizontal associations had developed, such as merchant associations, fraternities, and parishes, fitting in the general urge of the period to associate. Various associations of merchants emerged in the eleventh/ twelfth centuries, followed in many cities by the rise of more general burgher associations. These coniurationes, or communes, and their representatives, the iurati, also show up first in the south of the Low Countries, as in Tournai, Saint-Omer, and Cambrai, at the same time as the rise of similar associations or confederacies emerged in the countryside. One goal of these communes seems to have been assuring internal peace and offering security to the people living in the growing centres and conducting trade here. But another main goal was freedom of seigneurial arbitrariness and some self-government,50 to be obtained by struggling against lordly influence and the power of the old, closed patriciates. A next group of people in the towns associating themselves were the craftsmen, increasingly organizing themselves by way of guilds and operating as social and economic pressure groups. These processes of association in town and countryside should be seen as expressions of the same urge. In urbanized parts of the Low Countries, such as inland Flanders, French Flanders, and Artois, the emphasis was more on the urban associations, while in coastal Flanders, Holland, Frisia, and Drenthe, being less urbanized, it was more on the rural associations. But these processes in town and countryside took place simultaneously, drew from a common source, and had similar goals. In view of this, and in view of the infringements on self-organization, which were in part the same, it is not coincidental that in the towns of the Low Countries also in the thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries a series of revolts can be observed. These are mainly found in the urbanized parts of the Low Countries, where the towns were biggest. These revolts reacted against the closed patriciates that had come to dominate most cities, but also against the rising excises and taxation, and abuses in taxation. Also, resentment was in several cases directed against the territorial lord, who was trying to erode the independence of the urban community or supporting the patriciate. In the towns too, tensions were arising out of the emerging competitive markets for labour and capital, and the social polarization that was a result of this, with small-scale producers fearing to lose their economic independence. 50

Jan Dhondt, ‘Les “Solidarités” médiévales: une société en transition, la Flandre en 1127–1128’, Annales ESC, 12 (1957), 529–60.

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From the middle of the thirteenth century tensions and revolts regularly occurred in the towns, particularly cities of the Meuse Valley, such as Huy and Liège, but also in Gent and later in several other Flemish cities.51 These urban uprisings were mostly bloodily repressed, but some were successful. Sometimes the guilds even acquired control over the urban government, as in Utrecht in 1274, although in most cases the patriciate succeeded in rolling most of this position back again, as in Utrecht in 1276, after a bloody battle won by the episcopal troops. In many other towns, however, the success of the guild revolts was more lasting, particularly in Flanders. The effect of this also radiated to other parts of the Low Countries, where the guilds increasingly extended their influence over urban economy, society, and politics, often with the use of force against the old patriciates. Although in many cases the old elites, supplemented with new rich, retained a large part of their economic and political power,52 still the guilds would influence many Low Countries’ towns for several centuries and often succeeded in defending the position of small-scale, independent craft producers. These urban struggles and revolts were not isolated from the rural ones. There were clear similarities in the causes and motives of the urban and rural revolts in this period, and sometimes they were directly connected. A well-known case is the Flemish revolt of 1323–28, in which peasants and urban craftsmen fought side by side, but an even clearer case is found in 1274 in Utrecht, also because the insurgents were very explicit about their common goals. After the rural rebels from Kennemerland had defeated the noblemen and destroyed several castles in their home region, they marched to Utrecht, the biggest metropolis of the northern Low Countries, some fifty kilometers away. They approached the town and presented themselves to the townspeople as the free people of Kennemerland (libera gens Kinemarie). Next, they called upon the townspeople to join their struggle, and to expel and banish all noblemen, who oppress and burden the community, in order to distribute their properties among the poor.53 The urban craftsmen followed this exhortation, took control of the town government, and expelled the noblemen and patricians from the town. Next, they united in undivided friendship with the

51

Jan Dumolyn and Jelle Haemers, ‘Patterns of Urban Rebellion in Medieval Flanders’, Journal of Medieval History, 31 (2005), 369–93 (esp. pp. 374–78). 52 Raymond van Uytven, ‘Plutokratie in de “oude demokratieën der Nederlanden”’, Handelingen: Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse maatschappij, 16 (1962), 373–409. 53

Chronographia Johannis de Beke, ed. by Bruch, p. 221; Johannes de Beke, ed. by Bruch, pp. 143–44.

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Kennemer rebels. Not only were the goals of rural and urban rebels similar, but clearly the initiative for this joint action was taken by the rural rebels. The key to understanding this massive wave of revolts in the Low Countries seems to lie in the infringements on the social, economic, and political position of ordinary craftsmen, peasants, and farmers, coming from various sides and intensifying exactly in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The gains made in self-organization in these regions in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries now came under pressure, particularly in the countryside, creating tension and revolts. In this sense, there was a clear relation between the occurrence of intense and wellorganized rural revolts on the one hand and well-developed forms of rural selforganization on the other. This links up with the analysis by Peter Blickle for the later medieval period, in which he stresses the fundamental role of the Gemeinde in revolts in Germany.54 However, Blickle dates both rural community-building and revolts later, in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, whereas at least in these regions on the south-eastern shores of the North Sea rather the eleventh to thirteenth centuries were crucial in community-building, and the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries saw rural self-organization becoming threatened. In the Low Countries, and particularly in the coastal areas, rural revolts in this period were that pronounced because of the long tradition of association and freedom, in part going back into the early Middle Ages. This was a tradition at the regional level, each region having its specific characteristics, which explains why the rural revolts mostly remained a regional phenomenon, without the rural population of surrounding regions coming to the aid of the rebels. This is different from the big fourteenth-century revolts in England and France, which crossed the boundaries between regions. Still, despite their regional basis, and the fact that the opposing noble or princely party could always draw on extra-regional or even international support, these revolts in the Low Countries in many cases were successful and formed a consolidation of gains made by these associations against possible threats. On the other hand, even the successful revolts of this type created no shift in social property relations; their nature was mainly defensive, in order to safeguard their real or perceived traditions of the preceding wave of association.

54

Peter Blickle, ‘Peasant Revolts in the German Empire in the Late Middle Ages’, Social History, 4 (1979), 223–39.

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Map 1. Regions and towns mentioned in the text.

R EVOLTS OF THE L ATE M IDDLE A GES AND THE P ECULIARITIES OF THE E NGLISH Samuel K. Cohn, Jr

G

eneralizations about social revolt in the late Middle Ages are based largely on three or four of the most studied ones and especially on the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. From these and other ‘pre-industrial’ revolts, historians and sociologists have drawn a heavy line distinguishing ‘modern’ revolts from the ‘pre-industrial’. In so doing, they have devised an ideal-type of the preindustrial revolt: (1) its leaders did not come from the ranks of artisans and peasants but instead from the upper classes and usually the clergy; (2) women were the usual participants; (3) the ideology of the rebels looked back to visionary golden ages and turned on religious ideas; (4) popular rebels had awe and respect for royal and hereditary leaders and distinguished between the ‘good king’ and his evil advisors; (5) popular revolts before the nineteenth century were rare and, when they occurred, ended badly, invariably smashed and punished with horrific forms of repression.1

I wish to thank Prof. Matthew Strickland, Dr Douglas Aiton, and Mr Brian Dick for assistance. 1

For the generalizations, see for instance Bernard Guenée, Occident aux XIV e et XV e siècles, 6th edn (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1998; first edn, 1971); Guy Fourquin, Les Soulèvements populaires au moyen âge (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1972); Michel Mollat and Philippe Wolff, Ongles bleus, Jacques et Ciompi: les révolutions populaires en Europe aux XIV e et XV e siècles (Paris: Calman-Lévy, 1970); Rinaldo Comba, ‘Rivolte e ribellioni fra tre e quattrocento’, in La storia: I grandi problemi, ed. by Nicola Tranfaglia and Massimo Firpo, vol. II, part 2 (Turin: UTET, 1988), pp. 673–91; from recent sociological and political science perspectives on this ‘pre-industrial’ past, see Patricia Crone, Pre-Industrial Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989); and James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).

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In Lust for Liberty, I collected a sample of 1112 incidents of popular movements and protest from Italy, France, and Flanders during the period 1200 to 1425.2 These records raise serious objections to all five points above in addition to other assumptions. For example, historians continue to maintain that the most frequent and most important of medieval revolts were those of peasants and not ones that occurred in towns.3 Indeed, of the five best-studied popular movements on the continent — the two Flemish revolts of the early fourteenth century, the Jacquerie of 1358, the Hussites, and the revolt of the Florentine Ciompi — only one (the Ciompi) was exclusively urban. However, the sources available for Italy, France, and Flanders tell another story: sixty revolts (or less than 6 per cent) can be considered ones of peasants, and among these are included revolts such as those in Flemish cities during the early fourteenth century when peasants joined urban artisans and citizens. Moreover, only ten of these conflicts saw peasants rising up against their rural landlords.4 Moreover, other characteristics of medieval popular revolt should not be generalized from the handful of best-studied revolts and especially not from the English experience. The larger survey of revolts shows that the bourgeoisie, the nobility, and above all the clergy rarely led late medieval popular revolts, despite the fact that our descriptions come overwhelmingly from elite sources written without sympathy for popular rebels. The clergy, for example, appear as leaders in only 27 of the 1112, and the revolts they led were almost exclusively heretical movements.5 Moreover, when merchants or noblemen appear in popular revolts on the continent, they usually directed their own clans: the artisans who united with them against a common enemy had their own leaders, as can be seen in five revolts in Siena against the government of the Nine between 1317 and 1355.6 Contemporary chronicles describe leaders from the ranks of peasants and even workers, such as the sailor Piero Capurro, who led a mutiny to demand wages not paid by the galleys’ captain, the nobleman Doria of Genova. Afterwards, Capurro organized peasants along the Riviera to revolt against the commune of Genoa in 2

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr, Lust for Liberty: The Politics of Social Revolt in Medieval Europe, 1200–1425, Italy, France and Flanders (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). 3 See Rodney Hilton, ‘Popular Movements in England at the End of the Fourteenth Century’, in Hilton, Class Conflict and the Crisis of Feudalism: Essays in Medieval Social History (London: Hambledon, 1983), pp. 152–64 (pp. 157–58). 4

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 25–52.

5

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 111–12.

6

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 120–22, lists the original sources.

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1339.7 Another revolt to have received little or no notice from modern historians was one of those without underwear (‘senza braghe’) — apprentices and disenfranchised workers — who in 1289 accused the chief law officer of Bologna, their podestà, of corruption, attacked his palace, ran him out of town, and forced the city to elect a new podestà. From the chronicles all those named came from this vague artisan-working class; they had no need of relying on outside upper-class leaders.8 Secondly, revolts engendered by high grain prices or famine, far from being the norm as historians and sociologists have often asserted for ‘pre-industrial riots’, were extraordinarily rare during the late Middle Ages.9 Nor were women their leaders or even participants. Their absence as rebels does not result from a blindness or inability on the part of the chroniclers to see women as historical actors. Rather, chroniclers often described women in other movements or social activities, for instance, as the major participants in funerals, in the forefront of religious movements, such as the Great Alleluia of 1223, or even as the supporters and participants in the military defence of their communities.10 Archival sources show even fewer traces of women involved in popular rebellion than the chronicles. For instance, over a thousand names of insurgents can be found in the surviving sentences and inquests of the Florentine judicial records for various revolts from 1342 to 1400. However, not a single woman’s name is found among peasant insurgents, Ciompi, or artisans who rose up against various city governments over this period.11 Fourthly, popular rebels of late medieval continental Europe failed to demonstrate awe and respect for their royals or hereditary rulers (where no royal power existed). Nor did these rebels transfer their fury onto the backs of the king’s or queen’s advisors; not even in France in 1380, after the advisors of Charles VI — his uncles — had robbed the royal treasury for everything they could get. Instead, the Parisian menu peuple held the King responsible and struggled to block all tax

7

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 124.

8

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 91.

9

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 70–72, 108–09, and 130–32.

10

For instance, in 1352, although ‘few and poorly armed’, the mountain villagers of Vagliano in the Podere Fiorentino defended the Florentine state against Ubaldini troops, ultimately winning the day, when thirty of its village women, ‘screaming without stopping’, chased seventy well-armed Ubaldini soldiers ‘out of their hilltops and over the slopes’. Matteo Villani, Cronica con la continuazione di Filippo Villani, ed. by Giuseppe Porta, 2 vols (Parma: Fondazione Pietro Bemba, 1995), pp. 374–75; for other examples, see Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 131. 11

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 130–35.

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increases, which he desperately needed to defend the realm against the English incursions. As Michel Pintoin, the King’s chronicler, repeated for one revolt after another in this period of troubles, the plebs made demands with threats rather than with humble supplications and respectful words. When they could not confront him directly, they attacked the Jews under his protection to insult his royal authority.12 For city-states in central and northern Italy, respect or disdain for royalty was not generally possible. Nonetheless, popes and emperors often dominated their politics directly or in the not too distant background. Certainly, popular rebels could turn to one or the other of these superpowers with respectful pleas for support against the other or against their own city governments. For the most part, however, such supplications were made to counter the authority of the other superpower that currently ruled or dominated a particular city-state, as can often be seen in the late medieval history of the Roman popolo: with the help of the emperor or the King of Naples they opposed the rule of the pope, and on several occasions chased him from Rome.13 On the other hand, some city-states possessed hereditary rulers, such as at Viterbo where the ‘Prefetti di Vico’ had rights of lordship. The popolo showed these lords little respect as on 17 March 1387, when they revolted and forced the Prefetto into hiding. Once found, he was led to the central square, where before an assembled crowd, he was ritually humiliated by pressing his mouth up the anus of his favourite steed.14 Finally, open collective action of peasants and especially urban workers and artisans in late medieval continental Europe was not so rare and ‘suicidal’ as James C. Scott has alleged for pre-industrial societies across the longue durée.15 Nor were these continental revolts always so short-lived, as for example the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, where the central protest in London lasted only three days. In addition, although several revolts such as the French Jacquerie of 1358 or the butchers’ assault of Breton mercenaries stationed in Cesena in 1377 resulted in brutal repression, 70 per cent of the popular revolts found in chronicles and

12

Chronique du religieux de Saint-Denys, ed. by M. Bellaquet, Collection de documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, 6 vols (Paris: L’imprimerie de Crapelet, 1839–52), I, 44–53; and Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 137 and 290. 13

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 77.

14

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 140–41.

15

James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); and especially, Scott, Weapons of the Weak.

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other narrative late medieval continental sources were not repressed, and in many of these, the rebels won their demands.16 To what extent does the English experience conform with that found for Italy, France, and Flanders? First, grain revolts during the late Middle Ages appear even rarer in England than on the continent. English historians once held that there were none until the sixteenth century; however, recently a revolt against grain merchants has been uncovered for Bristol in 1347.17 Earlier cases might also be mentioned, such as during the Great Famine of 1315–16 when a Genoese ship filled with grain was assaulted at Sandwich. Exactly who were the participants, however, is uncertain.18 Nonetheless, examples of grain riots and especially ones motivated by starvation remain extremely rare.19 For other characteristics, the English experience was, however, clearly different from the continent’s. Although English women may not have revolted because of grain scarcity (as the sociological models maintain they should), they did play a more significant role in the English Peasants’ Revolt in 1381 than seen in any revolt on the continent before 1425. From judicial records, imaginary literature, and chronicles, they appear as part of insurrectionary crowds and even in leadership roles. First among them was Johanna Ferrour: together with her husband she led the insurgents of Kent who burnt down the Savoy Palace on 13 June, and on the following day was one of the leaders who executed three principal advisors of Richard II — Archbishop Simon Sudbury, Robert Hales, the treasurer of England, and William Appleton, the king’s physician.20 16

Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 147–56.

17

Buchanan Sharp, ‘The Food Riots of 1347 and the Medieval Moral Economy’, in Moral Economy and Popular Protest: Crowds, Conflict and Authority, ed. by Adrian Randall and Andrew Charlesworth (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 33–54. 18

Michael Prestwich, The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272–1377 (London: Methuen, 1980), p. 248. Unfortunately, he does not cite his source. However, the incident is described in Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Edward II, vol. II: 1313–1317 (London: HMSO, 1898), pp. 501–02 (23 May 1316), which also does not name the participants, but maintains that the assault was caused ‘on account of the unusual scarcity of corn and other victuals in the realm and the famine oppressing the people thereof’ (p. 501). I thank Douglas Aiton for this reference. 19 20

For these continental examples, see Cohn, Lust for Liberty, pp. 70–72, 108–09, and 130–32.

Sylvia Federico, ‘The Imaginary Society: Women in 1381’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001), 159–83. The role of Johanna Ferrour was described long ago in André Réville, Le Soulèvement des travailleurs d’Angleterre en 1381 (Paris: Picard, 1898), but then seemingly forgotten in the

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In other respects the leadership of the English Peasants’ Revolt diverged from tendencies on the continent, especially after the Black Death. Without doubt, leaders such as Wat Tyler and the dyer of Norfolk, Geoffrey Lister, came from artisan families; however, leaders of the English Revolt also came from outside the ranks of peasants and artisans. First, clerics were fundamental to the popular leadership and not only with two of its most famous leaders, John Ball and John Wrawe. Rodney Hilton has identified twenty clerics as leaders, even if they came from the lowest strata of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.21 In connection with this leadership, popular preaching and religious ideas appear as fundamental to the revolt’s ideology.22 Secondly, for the urban revolts during the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 at York, Scarborough, Beverley, Cambridge, St Albans, and Bury St Edmunds, the leadership did not come from artisans or the lower orders, but from those with positions in the ruling councils of these urban governments: they were aldermen, bailiffs, and often from patrician families.23 From positions of authority, they could entice artisans to follow. At York, for instance, little separated the rebel Simon de Quixlay from the probi homines, who supported the Crown and the new onerous taxes of the 1370s. At Cambridge, in the assault against the colleges and in opposition to the privileges of the scholars, burgesses and peasants allied. The leaders, however, were two large landowners, John Hanchach and Geoffrey Cobbe, who led raids against manors to the north of the city.24 Finally, the urban revolt in London, more recent literature of Hilton, Rosamond Faith, Christopher Dyer, Stephen R . Rigby, as well as in multi-authored collections dedicated to the English Peasants’ Revolt, such as The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Rodney H. Hilton and Trevor H. Aston, Past and Present Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). Her absence is all the more puzzling given the importance of women’s history over the past thirty years. 21

Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (repr. London: Routledge, 2003 with a new introduction by Christopher Dyer; originally published 1973), pp. 207–13. 22

Rodney H. Hilton, ‘Inherent and Derived Ideology in the English Rising of 1381’, in Campagnes médiévales: l’homme et son espace. Études offertes à Robert Fossier, ed. by Elisabeth Mornet, Histoire ancienne et médiévale, 31 (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1995), pp. 399–405; and Hilton, ‘Popular Movements in England’, p. 164. 23

For revolts in these towns and in the countryside outside London, see Richard Barrie Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan, 1983), pp. 269–300; Dobson, ‘The Risings in York, Beverley, and Scarborough’, in The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Hilton and Aston, pp. 112–42; Christian Liddy, ‘Urban Conflict in Late Fourteenth-Century England: The Case of York in 1380–1’, English Historical Review, 118 (2003), 1–32. 24

See the Rotuli Parliamentorum, concerning the revolt in Cambridge, in Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, pp. 239–42.

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when rustics from Kent and Essex allied with commoners of the town, depended on the support of city aldermen such as John Horn. According to the sheriffs’ inquests, Horn negotiated with the peasants and encouraged them to enter the city with promises of friendship, assistance, food, and anything else they needed.25 As with leadership, the underlying ideology of the Peasants’ Revolt differed from continental revolts especially after the Black Death. The rebels’ demands at Mile End hinged on two principles: the first pertained to secular authority; the second to the religious. To take the second one first, the rebels demanded that the goods of Holy Church should not remain in the hands of the religious, nor of parsons and vicars; but at the same time, the clergy should have a sufficient sustenance. The attack centred on the upper echelons of the hierarchy, but space was allowed for ‘one bishop in England and only one prelate’.26 From the Black Death to the Hussites, I know of no other demands that pertained to the religious sphere, or onslaughts that targeted so many clerics’ manor houses and other possessions, or whose ideology centred on challenging notions of religious hierarchy.27 In addition to religion playing a much more prominent role, the rebels at Mile End as well as in outlying places such as St Albans showed awe and respect for their boy king, Richard II. On behalf of the rustics, Tyler demanded that there should be no more villeins in England and lordship should disappear. However, the King was exempted from this otherwise supreme egalitarian ideal. In marked contrast to the deep disrespect continental rebels showed their royals and other hereditary authorities, the English rebels placed their hopes with their King, and their revolt was bent on a distinction between the good king and his evil advisors. The English commoners of 1381 saw themselves as the soldiers of the King enlisted to protect him from his evil advisors, whose roots seeped through the legal fabric of the English medieval state from the chancellor to common lawyers and scribes.28 According to the Anonimalle Chronicle, before assembling at Mile End, the commons

25

See the two inquests before the sheriffs’ tribunal on 4 and 20 November 1382, the London Letter Book H, and the discussion of these documents in Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, pp. 208–26. 26

The Anonimalle Chronicle in Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, pp. 164–65.

27

In the fifteenth century, in part because of the Hussites, threats against the hierarchy of the Church once again became a focal point of popular rebellion in parts of Europe; see Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 234. 28

Edmund B. Fryde, The Great Revolt of 1381 (London: Historical Association, 1981), p. 18; and Christopher Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), p. 288.

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With the exception of beheading thirty-five or more Flemings in London, the rebels targeted the King’s advisors as the traitors of England and the cause of misrule. First among these evil councillors was John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster (1329–99). Already in the period of the ‘Good Parliament’ of 1376 a crowd had attacked his principal palace, the Savoy, and turned his noble coat of arms into a sign of treason.30 On 13 June, even before the peasants had crossed into London, the first target of the rebels was again the Savoy, which urban commoners, united with the peasants, burnt to the ground. In addition to this attack, the rebels destroyed Gaunt’s manor house at Highbury and the hospital of St John at Clerkenwell, of which he was master. In more distant Cambridge, they targeted one college in particular, Corpus Christi, which Gaunt had founded.31 By contrast, the rebels flew the King’s banner in their charges against these evil traitors and in supplication presented the King with the arms of St George in London and later at St Albans.32 In their zeal to discredit and ridicule the peasants, the chroniclers heaped their abuse on only one man for showing disrespect. In contrast to actions against hereditary rulers on the continent, his crime seems negligible. The uncouth Wat Tyler drank a jug of water then rinsed his mouth with ale in the presence of Richard33 — a far cry from rallying cries of the popolo against Joanna I, queen of Naples from the 1340s to the 1380s, ‘Death to the traitors and to the Queen, the whore’,34 or to pressing the mouth of Viterbo’s Prefetto up his horse’s arse. Finally, English popular rebellion seems to have been less frequent than on the continent in towns and the countryside, despite the fact that for over a century English historians have combed through rich sources, such as manorial rolls, in search for any trace of protest (at least as regards the countryside). Before the Poll 29

Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, p. 160.

30

Prestwich, The Three Edwards, p. 288. Curiously, this first attack of London commoners against John of Gaunt is rarely mentioned in histories of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. 31

Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, pp. 156, 158 (Anonimalle Chronicle), and p. 240 (Rolls of Parliament, 7 and 13 June 1381). 32

Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, p. 274 (Walsingham, Historia Anglicana).

33

Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, p. 165 (Anonimalle Chronicle).

34

Polyhistoria Fratris Bartholomaei Ferrariensi Ord. Praed. MCCLXXXVIII usque ad annum MCCCLXVII, in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, ed. by Ludovico Muratori, 28 vols (Milan: Mediolani ex typographia Societatis Palatinae, 1723–51), vol. XXIV , cols 784–85.

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tax of 1377 unleashed a new era of turbulence, few examples of previous popular armed resistance have been found,35 and the exceptions appear to have been limited to single manors or lords, such as in 1350 when the villeins of the Abbey of Meaux rebelled against the monks because they had not accepted the new post–Black Death economic realities. According to Michael Prestwich, this revolt ‘presaged the great explosion of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381’.36 However, in contrast to 1381, when the waves of protests covered large areas of England, in 1350 the revolt was confined to a single lordship. Instead, for the period before 1377 historians have highlighted examples of protest that fit better with James C. Scott’s ‘weapons of the weak’ than collective rebellion. These pertain largely to the countryside and include small bands assaulting lords and acts of resistance limited mostly to individuals and families, such as neglecting to repair buildings after the Black Death, refusing labour services or doing them badly, or collective action within the law — peasants raising funds to argue before the king’s court that their tenancies were free ‘according to the customs of the ancient demesne’.37 Matters changed in 1377 with protest spreading beyond individual manors: in at least forty villages in Wiltshire, Surrey, Sussex, and Devon, peasants collectively refused to work their lords’ fields.38 More remains to be found for this pivotal date, as Miriam Müller has found, when the organized villeins of Badbury went beyond their pleas for ancient demesne 35

David Carpenter, ‘English Peasants in Politics 1258–1267’, Past and Present, 136 (1992), 3–42, shows the importance of peasants in English politics during the thirteenth century; these movements, however, essentially involved the barons’ struggle against the Crown, and they led the peasants. 36

Prestwich, The Three Edwards, p. 264.

37

See, for instance, Zvi Razi, ‘The Struggles between the Abbots of Halesowen and their Tenants in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries’, in Social Relations and Ideas: Essays in Honour of R. H. Hilton, ed. by Trevor H. Aston, Peter R . Coss, Christopher Dyer, and Joan Thirsk, Past and Present Society Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 151–67; Peter Franklin, ‘Politics in Manorial Court Rolls: The Tactics, Social Composition, and Aims of a Pre-1381 Peasant Movement’, in Medieval Society and the Manor Court, ed. by Zvi Razi and Richard Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 162–98; Paul V. Hargreaves, ‘Seignorial Reaction and Peasant Responses: Worcester Priory and its Peasants after the Black Death’, Midland History, 24 (1999), 53–78; and Miriam Müller, ‘The Aims and Organisation of a Peasant Revolt in Early Fourteenth-Century Wiltshire’, Rural History, 14 (2003), 1–20. I wish to thank Miriam Müller for these references. 38

Rosamond Faith, ‘The “Great Rumour” of 1377 and Peasant Ideology’, in The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Hilton and Aston, pp. 43–73; Gerald L. Harriss, Shaping the Nation: England 1360–1461 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), pp. 227–29; and Elizabeth Hallam, Domesday Book through Nine Centuries (London: Thames and Hudson, 1986), pp. 102–04.

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status lodged in 1348 and now enlisted peasants across other manors in Wiltshire.39 Some historians, such as Rodney Hilton and Edmund Fryde, have asserted that the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 was a watershed that spurred on a classconfidence and a sharp increase in rural rebellion for the rest of the Middle Ages and into the early modern period.40 Perhaps this was the case. But thus far, neither these nor other historians have quantified such a trend or even pointed to specific revolts in the aftermath of the English Peasants’ Revolt beyond a handful or less during the following century: for Fryde, it was Cade’s rebellion in 1450 and a revolt in Cornwall in 1497.41 Others have added a few more: a tax revolt in Yorkshire in 1489;42 movements in Yorkshire and Cheshire between 1391 and 1393, ones in Essex and Cheshire in 1400, and in Cheshire and York in 1403.43 These last, however, appear to have been protests of unemployed soldiers rather than peasant revolts. Still others have pointed to the revolt of Wales against English domination between 1400 and 1409 as ‘a peasant revolt’.44 On the other hand, according to Rees R. Davies, this struggle was originally a revolt of the gentry against the English Crown, during which Owain Glyn Dw ˆ r was proclaimed Prince of Wales, and eventually the struggle was transformed into a ‘national revolt’, but was never a peasant uprising.45

39

Müller, ‘Aims and Organisation of a Peasant Revolt’, pp. 15–16.

40

Hilton, Bond Men Made Free, p. 231: ‘[t]he continuation of local revolts for at least a couple of decades after 1381 is well known and this in itself is evidence of the continued self-assertiveness of the English lower classes’. 41

Fryde, The Great Revolt of 1381, p. 7.

42

Jane Whittle and Stephen R . Rigby, ‘England: Popular Politics and Social Conflict’, in A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages, ed. by Stephen R . Rigby (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), pp. 69–70. 43

Edmund B. Fryde and Natalie Fryde, ‘Peasant Rebellion and Discontents’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. III: 1348–1500, ed. by Edward Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 797–808. 44 45

Dyer, Making a Living in the Middle Ages, pp. 291–92.

Rees R. Davies, The Age of Conquest: Wales 1063–1415 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 443–59, and Davies, The Revolt of Owain Glyn Dwˆ r (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). Other smaller uprisings during the last two decades can be seen in the literature, but these authors also have yet to demonstrate quantitatively a post-1381 increase; see note 36. A better source for such searches is the Patent Rolls.

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With the new online version of the Parliament Rolls from the reign of Edward I to Henry VI, keyword searches for words such as ‘revolt’, ‘riot’, ‘sedition’, and similar terms result in ninety-five ‘hits’.46 These need, however, to be considered with care; certainly, not all of them were examples of popular protest. Many refer to the same revolt (and most often to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381). In other instances, these expressions do not indicate popular collective action; in still other cases, the laws passed by Parliament suggest prior actions of popular movements but give no reference to any specific events that led to Parliament’s actions. Nonetheless, a glance at these records suggests a strong clustering of riots and revolts around the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, from 1377 to 1381. On the basis of these keyword results, the English Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 does not appear as the watershed that opened a new epoch of rural disorder in England. Of fifteen definite acts of popular revolt found in this source, ten pertained to revolts in 1381. Such acts and petitions regarding the Peasants’ Revolt continued until April 1384 but referred back to 1381. In 1384, for instance, the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds lamented the destruction the rebels had caused his monastery in 1381 and now petitioned the king to refuse to renew the privileges the citizens of Bury once enjoyed.47 After this petition, no further acts clearly concerning popular revolt or popular protest appear until the Statute of Riots of Henry IV, in 1411.48 There are, in fact, more references in this source to popular revolt in the five years immediately preceding 1381 than for the next hundred years.49 The absence of popular conflict in the countryside (as well as in the city) seen in the Parliament Rolls during the last decades of the fourteenth century and the opening of the fifteenth century might be explained in part by improvements in

46

The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1275–1504, ed. by Chris Given-Wilson, The National Archives, The History of Parliament Trust (Leicester: Scholarly Digital Edition, Boydell, 2005). 47

The Parliament Rolls, Richard II, III, 170. In one of these acts, (Richard II, III, 100, no. 17), Parliament admits that a cause of the English Peasants’ Revolt had been abuses committed by local royal officials: ‘qi sont come rois en paiis, qe droit ne loye est a poy fait a nully, et la povre commune est de temps en temps a tiel guyse pilez et destruitz’. 48 49

The Parliament Rolls, Henry IV, 1411, and Appendix 1414, IV , 25.

Without doubt, many other social revolts and protests which leave no trace in these petitions and laws can be discovered in other sources. For example, contestations of the ‘mediocres et inferiores’ against oligarchic town councils continued in Lincoln from 1375 to 1390; for these and other examples into the fifteenth century, see Harriss, Shaping the Nation, pp. 291–93; and Philippa C. Maddern, Violence and Social Order: East Anglia 1422–1442 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992).

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living standards and in social relations on the land.50 In a little over a generation (c. 1380–1430), the position of peasants on their manors had transformed: villeinage had now become a shadow of itself.51 An increase in real wages and a decline in servitude had improved the peasant’s standard of life beyond recognition.52 Secondly, the array of popular revolts reflected in the Parliament Rolls, together with scattered references presently found in the general literature on medieval English history, raises doubts about Hilton’s and others’ claims that peasant revolts in medieval England were more important and frequent than collective protests in towns.53 English historians have yet to study popular urban revolts with anything approaching the attention devoted over the past century or more to rural insurrection. Not only did the so-called Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 include a vast array of urban revolts across large areas of England from Winchester to York, cities such as Norwich, Bristol, and London possess long histories of popular protest from at least the twelfth century, with a great variety of collective action. But, as with an uprising of workers in the textile industry in Winchester in June 1381, most of these have yet to become the focus of systematic research.54

50

It remains to be investigated whether a similar pattern will be shown from examples found in the surviving chronicles. On an ESRC project grant (‘Popular Protests in Late Medieval English Towns’, RES-000-22-2339: principal investigator, Samuel K. Cohn, Jr) Dr Douglas Aiton is presently examining these and other trends through the published narrative and archival sources. Thus far, in striking contrast with the continent, he has found a richer period of urban popular protest in the thirteenth century than in the fourteenth. 51

Harriss, Shaping the Nation, p. 234.

52

Harriss, Shaping the Nation, pp. 234–42; and Christopher Dyer, Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 158–177; and Dyer, ‘Work Ethics in the Fourteenth Century’, in The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-Century England, ed. by James Bothwell, P. J. P. Goldberg, and W. Mark Ormrod (York: York Medieval Press, 2000), pp. 21–41. 53

See Hilton, ‘Popular Movements in England’, pp. 157–58; and also May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307–1399 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 50–51, who held that towns in England lacked urban uprisings because they did not possess ‘the political vitality or civic independence of the great cities of the Continent’. Also, see McKisack, ‘London and the Succession to the Crown During the Middle Ages’, in Studies in Medieval History Presented to Fredrick Maurice Powicke, ed. by Richard W. Hunt, William A. Pantin, and Richard W. Southern (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938), pp. 76–89 (p. 89). 54

Dobson, The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, p. 44, lists an ‘urban rising, apparently led by clothworkers, late June?’, but does not cite any source for it.

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One of these lasted far longer than the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and was much more successful. In 1312 citizens of Bristol revolted against the town’s fourteen ruling oligarchs and drove them out of town. Afterwards, the commoners and burgesses led by their radical mayor resisted King Edward II’s attempts to bring the rebels to justice and to collect royal revenues. For the following four and a half years, the King’s agents were expelled and prevented from entering the town, and the rebels disobeyed the Crown’s orders to hand over eighty condemned rebels. Even after a royal force of (allegedly) twenty thousand finally brought Bristol back into the realm, the eighty never faced trial or suffered punishment.55 Nor did the citizens or commoners suffer brutal reprisals; instead, a negotiated settlement appears to have been the means for bringing the city back to paying royal taxes and accepting the King’s men. This significant uprising — well documented in chronicles such as the Life of Edward II and in administrative sources such as the Patent Rolls — has received only a few lines from historians of the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries.56 To date, no systematic examination of revolts in English towns has been carried out, not even for individual cities, such as London, Oxford, or Bristol. In a recent excellent monograph on medieval London, popular protest does not even figure, even though considerable space was devoted to the organization of guilds and

55

On 30 May 1324 a commission was appointed to evaluate ‘the oppressions and offences committed by the mayors of Bristol and the bailiffs of the liberty of that town’. No penalties are listed: Calendar of the Patent Rolls: Edward II, Part II, p. 453. 56

McKisack, The Fourteenth Century, p. 50, wrongly dates the insurrection to the period of famine, 1315–16, and assumes that it was provoked by these conditions. Further, she mistakenly depicts it as a revolt that was easily and immediately suppressed by Edward II. By contrast, the documents transcribed by the early nineteenth-century antiquarian Samuel Seyer, Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol, 2 vols (Bristol: J. M. Gutch, 1821–23), II, 86–108, tell a different story of armed resistance, rebels’ construction of new urban fortifications, and the zeal of citizens, defending what they perceived as their just liberties against the Crown from February 1312 to the autumn of 1316. Prestwich, The Three Edwards, p. 91, mentions the revolt only in passing as a part of the problems facing Edward II in 1315–16. He attributes the disturbance to ‘the high-handed behaviour of Badlesmere as constable of the castle’. The revolt, however, began before Badlesmere arrived on the scene. On this revolt, defiance to the king, and successful resistance against royal taxation, see Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Edward II, vol. I: 1307–1313 (London: HMSO, 1894), pp. 485 (12 August 1312), 491 (5 September 1312), 498 (17 September 1312), 500 (17 October 1312), 521 (12 June 1313), 506–07 (2 November 1312), 524 (16 January 1313(14)), and more. Douglas Aiton is now finding that riots and other forms of resistance to the Crown in Bristol reached back to the regime of Edward I; for instance, Calendar of the Patent Rolls: Edward I, vol. IV : 1301–1307 (London: HMSO, 1898), pp. 347–48 (12 March 1305), 352 (7 April 1305).

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popular religious confraternities.57 In contrast to the attention historians have given to popular protest in Flemish urban centres, the protests of William FitzOsbert (‘Longbeard’) during the last years of the twelfth century against unfair taxes imposed on the poor of London has filled no more than a page in recent general histories of medieval London or texts on the social and economic history of late medieval England. Yet, the chronicles recount that Longbeard was able to mobilize a following of 52,000. Even if this figure is exaggerated, FitzOsbert was well known for at least a century following his death as ‘the first demagogue of London’, and after his violent death, the church of St Mary-le-Bow, where he had taken refuge and was then burnt, became a reliquary of the people of London.58 The history of FitzOsbert appears similar to that of Henri de Dinant, seventy years later at Liège; yet in contrast to the historiographic favour Henri has enjoyed, FitzOsbert remains almost unknown today among English historians: both figures were class traitors; both were well-known orators with great powers for moving crowds; both led tax revolts against unfair sums that hit the urban poor hardest.59 A glance at the records reveals a wide spectrum of popular protest in English towns. The last decade of the twelfth century produced popular turbulence in boroughs and towns other than in London. At Lincoln and York in 1190, citizens and lords from the surrounding countryside led commoners in attacks against Jews and demands for the cancellation of their debts.60 Further examples are easily collected for the thirteenth century: in years around 1250, the ‘burgesses of the lesser commune’ of Oxford protested against the grandees and a system of taxation, in which the commoners paid double the rates of the rich.61 Similar revolts against tax 57

Caroline Barron, London in the Later Middle Ages: Government and People, 1200–1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 199–234, devotes only one sentence to the London revolt of 1381 (p. 155). Earlier works such as Gwyn Williams, Medieval London: From Commune to Capital (London: Athlone, 1963), paid more attention to popular movements. 58

See Christopher Brooke, London 800–1216: The Shaping of a City (London: Secker & Warburg, 1975), pp. 48–49; Edward Miller and John Hatcher, Medieval England: Towns, Commerce and Crafts 1086–1348 (London: Longman, 1995), p. 284; and Williams, Medieval London, p. 4. 59 Godefroid Kurth, La Cité de Liège au moyen âge, 3 vols (Brussels: A. Dewit, 1909–10), I, 179–215, and Kurth, ‘Henri de Dinant et la démocratie liégeoise’, Academie Royale des Sciences des Lettres et de Beaux-arts de Belgique: Bulletins de la Classe des Lettres (1908), 384–410. 60

Miller and Hatcher, Medieval England, p. 388; and Richard Barrie Dobson, The Jews of Medieval York and the Massacre of March 1190 (York: St Anthony’s Press, 1974); and Victoria County History, Yorkshire: The City of York, ed. by P. M. Tillot (London: Institute of Historical Research, 1961), p. 47. 61

Miller and Hatcher, Medieval England, p. 359.

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inequities arose at Grimbsy (1258), Northampton (1276), Gloucester (1290), and Cambridge (1291).62 Nor were taxes the only cause of popular protest in late medieval English towns. As on the continent, threats to the rights and privileges of urban self-government could provoke widespread violence, as in 1326 when Edward II attempted to limit burgesses’ rights to govern London. Commoners attacked one of the King’s men, Bishop Stapledon of Essex, the royal treasurer, had him dragged under his horse, and then decapitated him with a butcher’s knife. Afterwards, the King was forced to flee London for Wales, taking with him his despised advisors, the Despensers.63 In English cities and towns, revolts similar to ones of the Italian popolo of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries can also be found. For example, at Bury St Edmunds, a town controlled by its abbot and abbey, the youth of the town rose up against the abbot just before Easter 1264 to extend the rights of citizens in local government. They formed their own ‘guild of youth’ (gilda juvenum), seized the city gates, elected their own aldermen and bailiffs, broke down the abbey’s door, and fired arrows into its courtyard.64 Conflict and quarrels over rights of governance between the people of Bury and their lord (the abbey and abbot) continued through the thirteenth century to the end of the Middle Ages.65 In 1327, numerous rebels were punished severely in a failed attempt to extend the franchise of citizens: nineteen were hanged, a colossal fine of £140,000 was imposed on the burgesses, and in the following year the citizens were stripped of all of their civic rights.66 The conflict between Earl Simon de Montfort and King Henry III sparked other struggles in other cities: in September 1264, students and other youth of Oxford assembled with rebels outside the city and Jews recently arrived from fleeing persecution in London. Together, they formed illegal societies.67 Still more important revolts sprung up in London, when artisans assembled outside St Paul’s and forced their mayor and aldermen to concede to them rights to enter government for the 62

Miller and Hatcher, Medieval England, p. 359.

63

Prestwich, The Three Edwards, p. 97; Barron, London in the Later Middle Ages, pp. 26–27; and Williams, Medieval London, pp. 295–97. 64

Fredrick M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward: The Community of the Realm in the Thirteenth Century, 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947), II, 449–50. 65

See Robert Gottfried, Bury St. Edmunds and the Urban Crisis, 1290–1539 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). 66

Henry W. C. Davis, ‘The Commune of Bury St. Edmunds, 1264’, English Historical Review, 24 (1909), 313–17 (p. 315). 67

Powicke, King Henry III, II, 450, and 786–87.

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first time.68 Finally, assemblies of workers and artisans made economic demands as in London in 1349, when workmen conspired to raise their wages two to three times (in nominal terms) what they had been before the plague.69 Without doubt, an examination of the chronicles for medieval England (to say nothing of the administrative sources) could bring to the surface many more examples of popular protest in English towns with still greater richness and variety.70 Certainly, this is a neglected topic in medieval English historiography. For the moment, however, we can point to other examples, such as one in London in 1223 after a wrestling match between the Abbey of Westminster and the youth of the city, that reflect on the variety of these incidents. The Londoners lost the match and as a consequence its citizens deposed their mayor and elected a new one. The following morning the Londoners assembled and marched under their city’s standard against the abbey. They attacked the Abbot’s seneschal and robbed houses belonging to the abbey in and outside the city. The Abbot petitioned the king. In response, the Londoners encircled the Abbot’s palace ‘like bees’, stole twelve of the Abbot’s horses, and assaulted his servants. The King’s justiciar summoned the mayor and the chief men of the city to carry out an inquest identifying the tumult’s leaders. Instead, the Londoners rose up again, bringing the King into the fray. He deposed the new mayor, replaced him with one of his own men, took sixty hostages, and threatened the Londoners with numerous executions. In the end, after reprimands from the King that included a fine of ‘many thousand marks’, the barons negotiated a peace between him and the citizens.71 In contrast to the riots that exploded during and after games of military exercise (lotte dei pugni) in Siena in 1319 and 1324, which began as sporting events between the ‘Thirds’ of the city, but ended with clear political objectives — to overthrow the city’s long-lasting merchant oligarchy of the Nine72 — the English wrestling match did not develop in any clear political direction or with any social agenda such as attacking the

68

Powicke, King Henry III, II, 446–47. At the same time, the lowest orders sacked the houses of foreigners and attacked the Jews. 69

Prestwich, The Three Edwards, p. 261.

70

Such is in fact the purpose of an ESRC project grant mentioned above in note 50. The current paper began before this project had been accepted and does not reflect the rich findings now being amassed by the project’s researcher, Dr Douglas Aiton. 71 William D. Robieson, The Growth of Parliament and the War with Scotland, 1216–1307 (London: G. Bell, 1914), pp. 9–10. 72

Samuel K . Cohn, Jr, Popular Protest in Late Medieval Europe (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), pp. 62–64; Cohn, Lust for Liberty, p. 120.

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privileges of the abbey, extending citizens rights, or protesting against royal power. At least as far as the sources thus far reveal, only the sporting pride of the Londoners and their bad sportsmanlike conduct appear to have been at stake. As an initial hypothesis, I speculate that even after a more sustained sampling of the sources, chronicle or administrative, important differences between the English and continental experiences will arise. For instance, even if all the ninetyfive petitions and statutes contained in our keyword searches in the Parliament Rolls had produced ninety-five clear examples of individual revolts by commoners or by citizens against royal, oligarchic, or seigneurial rule (which they certainly do not), these would amount to less than half the number of revolts found for single cities alone, such as Paris or Florence, and over a shorter period of time. This likely scarcity of popular revolt in England reflects another peculiarity of the English, one that does not support Alan MacFarlane’s thesis of English exceptionalism — that as far back as the Anglo-Saxons and certainly by the late Middle Ages, English peasants and commoners had attained a higher consciousness and individualism than those on the continent.73 On the contrary, as far as the evidence on popular protest goes, the English commoners appear with less power and confidence to threaten effectively seigneurial power, city oligarchies, or royal power than on the continent. Perhaps this absence of effective popular protest resulted from another area where the English were exceptional — this time in the opposite direction: the precocious development of the state and the centralization of power.

73

Alan Macfarlane, The Origins of English Individualism: The Family, Property, and Social Transition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978).

B IBLIOGRAPHY OF C HRISTOPHER D YER ’S W RITINGS, 1968–2009: T HE S TORY S O F AR . . .1 compiled by Richard Goddard

Books Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980) Warwickshire Farming, 1349–c. 1520: Preparations for Agricultural Revolution, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers, 27 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981) with Trevor H. Aston, Peter R . Coss, and Joan Thirsk, eds, Social Relations and Ideas: Essays in Honour of R. H. Hilton, Past and Present Society Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983) Standards of Living in the Later Middle Ages: Social Change in England c. 1200–1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; rev. edn, 1998) with Michael Aston and David Austin, eds, The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies Dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) Hanbury: Settlement and Society in a Woodland Landscape (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1991) Everyday Life in Medieval England (London: Hambledon, 1994; 2nd edn, 2000) with Carenza Lewis and Patrick Mitchell-Fox, Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997) Bromsgrove: A Small Town in Worcestershire in the Middle Ages, Worcestershire Historical Society Occasional Publications, 9 (Worcester: Worcestershire Historical Society, 2000) Making a Living in the Middle Ages: The People of Britain, 850–1520 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002; paperback edn, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003) An Age of Transition? Economy and Society in England in the Later Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) with Kate Giles, eds, Town and Country in the Middle Ages: Contrasts, Contacts and Interconnections, 1100–1500, Society for Medieval Archaeology, 22 (Leeds: Maney, 2005)

1

Book reviews and prefaces have been excluded from this list.

288

Bibliography

ed., Landscape History after Hoskins, 3 vols (Oxford: Windgather, 2007) ed., The Self-Contained Village? The Social History of Rural Communities, 1250–1890 (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2007) with Peter Coss and Chris Wickham, eds, Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages: An Exploration of Historical Themes, Past and Present Supplement, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) with Dr Catherine Richardson, William Dugdale, Historian, 1605–1686: His Life, His Writings and His County (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2009)

Articles and Chapters ‘The Deserted Medieval Village of Woolashill, Worcestershire’, Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, 3rd series (1968), 55–61 ‘Population and Agriculture on a Warwickshire Manor in the Later Middle Ages’, University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 11(1968), 113–27 ‘A Redistribution of Incomes in Fifteenth-Century England?’, Past and Present, 39 (1968), 11–33; repr. in Peasants, Knights and Heretics: Studies in Medieval English Social History, ed. by R . H. Hilton, Past and Present Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), pp. 192–215 with Howard B. Clarke, ‘Anglo-Saxon and Early Norman Worcester: The Documentary Evidence’, Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, 3rd series (1968–69), 27–33 ‘A Small Landowner in the Fifteenth Century’, Midland History, 1 (1972), 1–14 ‘The Causes of the Revolt in Rural Essex’, in Essex and the Great Revolt of 1381: Lectures Celebrating the Six Hundredth Anniversary, ed. by W. H. Liddell and R . G. E. Wood, Essex Record Office Publications, 54 (Chelmsford: Essex Record Office, 1982), pp. 21–36 ‘Deserted Medieval Villages in the West Midlands’, Economic History Review, 35 (1982), 19–34 ‘The Social and Economic Changes of the Later Middle Ages and the Pottery of the Period’, Medieval Ceramics, 6 (1982), 33–42 with S. R. Bassett, ‘The Hanbury Survey, 1979–1981’, Worcestershire Archaeology and Local History Newsletter, 27 (1982), 3–9 ‘English Diet in the Later Middle Ages’, in Social Relations and Ideas: Essays in Honour of R. H. Hilton, ed. by Trevor H. Aston, Peter R . Coss, Christopher Dyer, and Joan Thirsk, Past and Present Society Publications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 191–216 ‘Changes in the Link Between Families and Land in the West Midlands in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries’, in Land, Kinship and Life-cycle, ed. by Richard M. Smith, Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 305–11 ‘Changes in the Size of Peasant Holdings in Some West Midland Villages 1400–1540’, in Land, Kinship and Life-cycle, ed. by Richard M. Smith, Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 277–94 ‘Evidence for Helms in Gloucestershire in the Fourteenth Century’, Vernacular Architecture, 15 (1984), 42–44 ‘Les Régimes alimentaires en Angleterre, XIIIe– XV e siècles’, in Manger et boire au Moyen Âge: Actes du colloque de Nice (15–17 octobre 1982) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1984), II, 263–74

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‘The Social and Economic Background to the Rural Revolt of 1381’, in The English Rising of 1381, ed. by Rodney H. Hilton and Trevor H. Aston, Past and Present Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 9–42 ‘Power and Conflict in the Medieval English Village’, in Medieval Villages: A Review of Recent Work, ed. by Della Hooke (Oxford: Oxford University Committee for Archaeology, 1985), pp. 27–32 ‘Towns and Cottages in Eleventh-Century England’, in Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. H. C. Davis, ed. by Henry Mayr-Harting and R . I. Moore (London: Hambledon, 1985), pp. 91–106 ‘What to Read on Country and Town in the Middle Ages’, Local Historian, 16 (1985), 260–65 ‘English Peasant Buildings in the Later Middle Ages (1200–1500)’, Medieval Archaeology, 30 (1986), 19–45 with Rodney H. Hilton and Jean R . Birrell, ‘La Société paysanne et le droit dans l’Angleterre médiévale’, Études rurales, 103–04 (1986), 13–45 ‘The Rise and Fall of a Medieval Village: Little Aston (in Aston Blank), Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 105 (1987), 165–81 ‘Changes in Diet in the Late Middle Ages: The Case of Harvest Workers’, Agricultural History Review, 36 (1988), 21–37 ‘The Consumption of Fresh-water Fish in Medieval England’, in Medieval Fish, Fisheries and Fishponds in England, ed. by Michael Aston, B.A.R ., British Series, 182, 2 vols (Oxford: British Archaeological Reports, 1988), I, 27–38 ‘Documentary Evidence: Problems and Enquiries’, in The Countryside of Medieval England, ed. by Grenville Astill and Annie Grant (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), pp. 12–35 ‘Recent Developments in Early Medieval Urban History and Archaeology in England’, in Urban Historical Geography: Recent Progress in Britain and Germany, ed. by Dietrich Denecke and Gareth Shaw, Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography, 10 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 69–80 ‘The Rising of 1381 in Suffolk: Its Origins and Participants’, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 36 (1988), 274–87 ‘The West Midlands’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. II: 1042–1350, ed. by Herbert E. Hallam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 660–75 with Nicholas Palmer, ‘An Inscribed Stone from Burton Dassett, Warwickshire’, Medieval Archaeology, 32 (1988), 216–19 ‘The Consumer and the Market in the Later Middle Ages’, Economic History Review, 42 (1989), 305–27 ‘Jardins et vergers en Angleterre au moyen âge’, in Jardins et vergers en Europe occidentale (VIIIe– XVIIIe siècles): 9e Journées internationales d’histoire, Flaran, 18–20 septembre 1987, Flaran, 9 (Valence-sur-Baise: Centre culturel départemental de l’abbaye de Flaran, 1989), pp. 145–64 ‘“The Retreat from Marginal Land”: The Growth and Decline of Medieval Rural Settlements’, in The Rural Settlements of Medieval England: Studies Dedicated to Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, ed. by Michael Aston, David Austin, and Christopher Dyer (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), pp. 45–57 ‘Assentaments medievals abandonats a Anglaterra’, Cota Zero, 6 (1990), 25–33 ‘Dispersed Settlements in Medieval England: A Case Study of Pendock, Worcestershire’, Medieval Archaeology, 34 (1990), 97–121

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‘The Past, the Present and the Future in Medieval Rural History’, Rural History, 1 (1990), 37–50 ‘Les Problèmes de la croissance agricole du Haut Moyen Âge en Angleterre’, in La Croissance agricole du Haut Moyen Âge: chronologie, modalités, géographie. Centre Culturel de l’Abbaye de Flaran: dixièmes journées internationales d’histoire, 9, 10, 11 septembre 1988, Flaran, 10 (Auch: Comité départemental du Tourisme du Gers, 1990), pp. 117–30 with Simon A. C. Penn, ‘Wages and Earnings in Late Medieval England: Evidence from the Enforcement of the Labour Laws’, Economic History Review, 43 (1990), 356–76 ‘Were There Any Capitalists in Fifteenth-Century England?’, in Enterprise and Individuals in Fifteenth-Century England, ed. by Jennifer Kermode (Stroud: Sutton, 1991), pp. 1–24 ‘The West Midlands’, in The Agrarian History of England and Wales, vol. III: 1348–1500, ed. by Edward Miller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 77–91 with David Aldred, ‘A Medieval Cotswold Village: Roel, Gloucestershire’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 109 (1991), 139–70 ‘The Hidden Trade of the Middle Ages: Evidence from the West Midlands of England’, Journal of Historical Geography, 18 (1992), 141–57 ‘Small Town Conflict in the Later Middle Ages: Events at Shipston-on-Stour’, Urban History, 19 (1992), 183–210 ‘The English Medieval Village Community and its Decline’, Journal of British Studies, 33 (1994), 407–29 ‘Piers Plowman and Plowmen: A Historical Perspective’, Yearbook of Langland Studies, 8 (1994), 155–76 ‘How Urbanised Was Medieval England?’ in Peasants and Townsmen in Medieval Europe: Studia in honorem Adriaan Verhulst, ed. by Jean-Marie Duvosquel and Erik Thoen (Gent: SnoeckDucaju, 1995), pp. 169–83 ‘Leisure Among the Peasantry in the Later Middle Ages’, in Il tempo libero: economia e società secc. XIII– XVII, ed. by S. Cavaciocchi (Prato: Istituto Internationale di Storia Economica, 1995), pp. 291–306 ‘Sheepcotes: Evidence for Medieval Sheepfarming’, Medieval Archaeology, 39 (1995), 136–64 ‘Were Peasants Self-sufficient? English Villagers and the Market, 900–1350’, in Campagnes médiévales: l’homme et son espace. Études offertes à Robert Fossier, ed. by Elisabeth Mornet, Histoire ancienne et médiévale, 31 (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1995), pp. 653–66 ‘Lords, Peasants, and the Development of the Manor: England, 900–1280’, in England and Germany in the High Middle Ages: In Honour of Karl J. Leyser, ed. by Alfred Haverkamp and Hanna Vollrath, Studies of the German Historical Institute, London (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 301–15 ‘Market Towns and the Countryside in Late Medieval England’, Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire, 31 (1996), 17–35 ‘Memories of Freedom: Attitudes Towards Serfdom in England, 1200–1350’, in Serfdom and Slavery: Studies in Legal Bondage, ed. by Michael L. Bush (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 277–95 ‘Rural Settlements in Medieval Warwickshire’, Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society Transactions, 100 (1996), 117–33 ‘St Oswald and 10,000 West Midland Peasants’, in St Oswald of Worcester: Life and Influence, ed. by Nicholas Brooks and Catherine Cubitt, Makers of England, 2 (London: Leicester University Press, 1996), pp. 174–93

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‘Taxation and Communities in Late Medieval England’, in Progress and Problems in Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Edward Miller, ed. by Richard Britnell and John Hatcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 168–90 ‘Do Household Accounts Provide an Accurate Picture of Late Medieval Diet and Food Culture?’, in La Vie matérielle au Moyen Âge: l’apport des sources littéraires, normatives et de la pratique. Actes du colloque international de Louvain-la-Neuve, 3–5 octobre 1996, ed. by Emmanuelle Rassart-Eeckhout, Jean-Pierre Sosson, Claude Thiry, and Tania Van Hemelryck, Textes, Études, Congrès, 18 (Louvain-la-Neuve: Publications de l’Institut d’Études Médiévales, 1997), pp. 109–25 ‘The Economy and Society’, in The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval England, ed. by Nigel Saul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 137–73 ‘Material Culture: Production and Consumption’, in Material Culture in Medieval Europe: Papers of the ‘Medieval Europe Brugge 1997’ Conference, 7, ed. by Guy De Boe and Frans Verhaeghe, I.A.P. Rapporten, 7 (Zellik: Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium, Wetenschappelijke instelling van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, 1997), pp. 505–13 ‘Medieval Farming and Technology: Conclusion’, in Medieval Farming and Technology: The Impact of Agricultural Change in Northwest Europe, ed. by Grenville Astill and John Langdon, Technology and Change in History, 1 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), pp. 293–312 ‘Medieval Stratford: A Successful Small Town’, in The History of an English Borough: Stratfordupon-Avon, 1196–1996, ed. by Robert Bearman (Stroud: Sutton, 1997), pp. 43–61 ‘Medieval Wales: A Summing up’, in Landscape and Settlement in Medieval Wales, ed. by Nancy Edwards (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1997), pp. 165–68 ‘Peasants and Coins: The Uses of Money in the Middle Ages’, British Numismatic Journal, 67 (1998 for 1997), 30–47 ‘Peasants and Farmers: Rural Settlements in an Age of Transition’, in The Age of Transition: The Archaeology of English Culture, 1400–1600, ed. by D. Gaimster and P. Stamper, Society for Medieval Archaeology Monographs, 15 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1997), pp. 61–76 ‘Recent Developments and Future Prospects in Research into English Medieval Rural Settlements’, in Rural Settlements in Medieval Europe: Papers of the ‘Medieval Europe Brugge 1997’ Conference, 6, ed. by Guy De Boe and Frans Verhaeghe, I.A.P. Rapporten, 6 (Zellik: Instituut voor het Archeologisch Patrimonium, Wetenschappelijke instelling van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap, 1997), pp. 55–61 ‘Did the Peasants Really Starve in Medieval England?’, in Food and Eating in Medieval Europe, ed. by Martha Carlin and Joel T. Rosenthal (London: Hambledon, 1998), pp. 53–71 ‘La historia de los niveles de vida en Inglaterra, 1200–1800: Problemas y enfoques’, Historia agraria, 16 (1998), 101–17 ‘Los orígenes del capitalismo en la Inglaterra medieval’, Brocar, 22 (1998), 7–20 ‘Rural Europe’, in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. VII: 1415–1500, ed. by C. Allmand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 106–20 ‘Social Aspects of Late Medieval Material Culture’, in Die Vielfalt der Dinge: Neue Wege zur Analyse mittelalterlicher Sachkultur. Internationaler Kongreß Krems an der Donau 4. bis 7. Oktober 1994, ed. by Helmut Hundsbichler, Gerhard Jaritz, and Thomas Kühtreiber, Forschungen des Instituts für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit: Diskussionen und Materialien, 3 (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998), pp. 313–24

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‘Trade, Towns and the Church: Ecclesiastical Consumers and the Urban Economy of the West Midlands, 1290–1540’, in The Church in the Medieval Town, ed. by Terry R . Slater and Gervase Rosser (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998), pp. 55–75 with Jane Laughton, ‘Small Towns in the East and West Midlands in the Later Middle Ages: A Comparison’, Midland History, 24 (1999), 24–52 with M. Müller, ‘Archaeological and Documentary Research on Badbury, Wiltshire’, Medieval Settlement Research Group, Annual Report, 14 (1999), 34–36 ‘Compton Verney: Landscape and People in the Middle Ages’, in Compton Verney: A History of the House and its Owners, ed. by R. Bearman (Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 2000), pp. 49–94 ‘Small Towns 1270–1540’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, vol. I: 600–1540, ed. by David M. Palliser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 505–37 ‘Trade, Urban Hinterlands and Market Integration, 1300–1600: A Summing Up’, in Trade, Urban Hinterlands and Market Integration c.1300–1600: A Collection of Working Papers Given at a Conference Organised by the Centre for Metropolitan History and Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, 7 July 1999, ed. by James A. Galloway, Centre for Metropolitan History Working Papers Series, 3 (London: Centre for Metropolitan History, 2000), pp. 103–09 ‘Woodlands and Wood-pasture in Western England’, in Rural England: An Illustrated History of the Landscape, ed. by Joan Thirsk (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 97–121 ‘Work Ethics in the Fourteenth Century’, in The Problem of Labour in Fourteenth-Century England, ed. by James Bothwell, P. J. P. Goldberg, and W. Mark Ormrod (York: York Medieval Press, 2000), pp. 21–41 with Terry J. Slater, ‘The Midlands’, in The Cambridge Urban History of Britain, vol. I: 600–1540, ed. by David M. Palliser (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 609–38 with Jane Laughton and Evan Jones, ‘The Urban Hierarchy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study of the East Midlands’, Urban History, 28 (2001), 331–57 ‘Small Places with Large Consequences: The Importance of Small Towns in England, 1000–1540’, Historical Research, 75 (2002), 1–24 ‘The Urbanizing of Staffordshire: The First Phases’, Staffordshire Studies, 14 (2002), 1–31 ‘Villages and Non-villages in the Medieval Cotswolds’, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 120 (2003 for 2002), 11–35 with Richard Jones and Mark Page, ‘Whittlewood: Revealing a Medieval Landscape’, Current Archaeology, 16 (2002), 59–63 with Jane Laughton, ‘Seasonal Patterns of Trade in the Later Middle Ages: Buying and Selling at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, 1400–1520’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 46 (2002), 162–84 ‘The Archaeology of Medieval Small Towns’, Medieval Archaeology, 47 (2003), 85–114 ‘Birmingham in the Middle Ages’, in Birmingham: Bibliography of a City, ed. by C. Chinn (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2003), pp. 1–14 ‘A New Introduction’, in Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free: Medieval Peasant Movements and the English Rising of 1381 (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. ix–xv ‘Preface to Section – Public and Private Lives in the Medieval Household’, in Love, Marriage and Family Ties in the Later Middle Ages, ed. by Isabel Davis, Miriam Müller, and Sarah Rees Jones, International Medieval Research, 11 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2003), pp. 237–39

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with Phillipp Schofield, ‘Estudios recientes sobre la historia agraria y rural medieval britanica’, Historia agraria, 31 (2003), 13–33 ‘Alternative Agriculture: Goats in Medieval England’, in People, Landscape and Alternative Agriculture: Essays for Joan Thirsk, ed. by Richard W. Hoyle, Agricultural History Review Supplement, 3rd series (Exeter: British Agricultural History Society, 2004), pp. 20–38 ‘The Political Life of the Fifteenth-Century English Village’, in Political Culture in Late Medieval Britain, ed. by Linda Clark and Christine Carpenter, Fifteenth Century Series, 4 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004), pp. 135–57 ‘Salt-making at Droitwich, Worcestershire, in the Fourteenth Century’, Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, 3rd series (2004), 133–39 with M. Ciaraldi, R. Cuttler, and L. Dingwall, ‘Medieval Tanning and Retting at Brewood, Staffordshire; Archaeological Excavations 1999–2000’, Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society Transactions, 40 (2004), 1–57 ‘Bishop Wulfstan and his Estates’, in St Wulfstan and his World, ed. by Julia S. Barrow and N. P. Brooks, Studies in Early Medieval Britain, 4 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), pp. 137–49 ‘Historiography of the Landmarket in Medieval England’, in Le Marché de la terre au moyen âge, ed. by Laurent Feller and Chris Wickham (Rome: École française de Rome, 2005), pp. 65–76 ‘Making Sense of Town and Country’, in Town and Country in the Middle Ages: Contrasts and Interconnections, 1100–1500, ed. by Christopher Dyer and Kate Giles, Society for Medieval Archaeology, 22 (Leeds: Maney, 2005), pp. 313–21 ‘Seigniorial Profits on the Landmarket in Late Medieval England’, in Le Marché de la terre au moyen âge, ed. by Laurent Feller and Chris Wickham (Rome: École française de Rome, 2005), pp. 219–30 ‘Villeins, Bondsmen, Neifs, and Serfs: New Serfdom in England, c. 1200–1600’, in Forms of Servitude in Northern and Central Europe: Decline, Resistance, and Expansion, ed. by Paul Freedman and Monique Bourin, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 9 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 419–35 ‘Conflict in the Landscape: The Enclosure Movement in England, 1220–1349’, Landscape History, 28 (2006), 21–33 ‘Gardens and Garden Produce in the Later Middle Ages’, in Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition, ed. by Christopher M. Woolgar, Dale Serjeantson, and Tony Waldron (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 27–40 ‘Economic History’, in A Century of Medieval Studies, ed. by A. Deyermond (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2007), pp. 159–79 ‘The Ineffectiveness of Lordship in England, 1200–1400’, in Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages: An Exploration of Historical Themes, ed. by Christopher Dyer, Peter Coss, and Chris Wickham, Past and Present Supplement, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 69–86 ‘Introduction: Rodney Hilton, Medieval Historian’, in Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages: An Exploration of Historical Themes, ed. by Christopher Dyer, Peter Coss, and Chris Wickham, Past and Present Supplement, 2 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 10–17 ‘Landscape and Society at Bibury, Gloucestershire to 1540’, in Archives and Local History in Bristol and Gloucestershire: Essays in Honour of David Smith, ed. by Joseph Betty (Bristol: Bristol and Gloucester Archaeological Society, 2007), pp. 61–77 ‘The Language of Oppression: The Vocabulary of Rents and Services in England, 1000–1300’, in Pour une anthropologie du prélèvement seigneurial dans les campagnes médiévales (XIe– XIV e

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INDEX

Abel, Wilhelm 49, 52 Acton 246 Adam Packer 73, 75 Adam the Miller 159 Adam Wydbred 115 Agatha de Harthill 69 aggregate national income 49–51, 53, 65 Agnes Gye 73 Agnes Irish 225 agriculture 4, 23, 90, 98, 102–3, 106, 144, 180, 190 output 17, 49, 51, 53–8 technology 24 see also animal husbandry; cereal cultivation Alcester 6 aldermen 214, 218, 220, 222–3, 275, 283 Aldham 154, 183–5, 187–9 Alexander Lucas 117–19, 124–5 Alfred, King of Wessex 13 Alice de Bryene 237, 246–7 Alice Noreys 121–2, 124 Alice Wright alias Filpot 225 Allan, John 43 Alphington 47 Alrewas 8, 197–211 Altenesch, battle of 252 Alverstoke 167 Amicia Noreys 121–2, 124 animal husbandry 7, 16, 55, 57–8, 233, 236, 239 on demesne land 163–5, 168–70, 175–7, 180, 186, 192

on private pasture 163 on wastes 29, 31–3, 36–40, 43–8 sheep and wool 93, 94–8, 101–3, 107 Anonimalle Chronicle 275 Aquila Honour 63 archaeology 13, 17, 20, 24–7 and evidence of diet 231n1, 233n10, 244 Dyer’s use of 1, 5, 6, 11 Artois 265 Ashbourne 77 Ashburton 34–5 Ashbury 236 Ashford 96 Assize of Clarendon 139 assizes 129–32, 134–6, 139–40, 142–4, 191 associations, urban 264–5 see also guilds and fraternities Astill, Grenville 8 Atheric, minister 34 Austin, David 43, 48 Aylesbury 163 Badbury 197, 200, 277 Bailey, Mark 55 bailiffs comital 255, 264 in manors and demesne lands 168, 181–95, 202, 209 in urban centres 136–7, 214, 227–9 Baker, John H. 155 Bakewell 91, 93, 95–6, 98–9, 101, 103

296 Baldwin, sheriff 42 Ball, John. See John Ball Balsham 183–4, 186 Baltic region 17 Basingstoke 79, 83 Baston 183–4 Baynard family 175 Bec, Abbey of 151 Beckerman, John S. 156–8 Bedford 130, 137 Bedfordshire 130, 192 Bellamy, John 140 Belstone 43, 47 Bentheim, Count of 252 Berg, Bishop of Utrecht 252 Berkshire 130, 142–3 Bernard Sarnewte 76 Beveridge, William 54, 62 Beverley 274 Bibury 6 Bickington 34 Birdbrook 158 Birham 43 Birrell, Jean 8 Black Death 4, 83, 122, 181, 232, 255 effect on food allowances 235, 239, 248 effect on labour and economics 3, 8, 51, 79, 81, 109, 111–16, 124–5, 190–4, 233, 241 effect on rebellions 3, 249–50, 274, 275, 277 effect on seigneurial power 5, 190–4 Blanchard, Ian 55 Blickle, Peter 249, 267 Bloemhof, Abbey of 256 Bocking 203, 211 Bologna 271 bonds 76, 85–6 boonwork 235–9, 246 Boughton 221 Bourn valley 16, 21 Bovey Tracy 32 Boxley 157 Brabant, Duke of 252 Brandon 235 Braudel, Fernard 233 Breckland 55

Index Bremen 251–2 Bremer Synod 262 Brent Moor 31–2, 33, 37, 39–40 Brentmore 32 Bretagne, Duke of 255 Bridbury, Anthony 51 Bridestowe 47 Bridgenorth 138 Bridgwater 74, 76, 79, 83, 86 Briggs, Chris 8 Bristol 60, 213, 273, 280, 281 Britnell, Richard 8 Bromsgrove 6, 127 Brunham 187 Buckfast, Abbey 33 abbots of 31, 36, 39 Buckfast Moor 33 Buckingham 163 Buckinghamshire 6, 8, 163 Buckland 30, 37 Bullhornstone 36, 40 Bundschuh of Lehen 244 Burgh 96 Burghclere 239 Burgundy, Duke of 255 burhs 12–13 Bury St Edmunds 274, 283 Abbot of 279 Butler, Anthony 33 Buxton 96 Cakeham 211 Cambrai 265 Cambridge 130, 274, 283 Corpus Christi College 276 Cambridgeshire 16, 21, 63, 130, 181, 183, 185, 190 Camden, William 30 Candy Morris 225 Canon Pyon 158 Canterbury 64, 130, 203 Canute, King of England 34 capitalism 2, 5, 161 Carus-Wilson, Eleanora 60 Cassel, Battle of 255, 257

297

Index Cassio 243 Catholme 16, 21 Centre for Metropolitan History 7 cereal cultivation 16, 57–8, 233 Cesana 272 Challeford Marsh 37 Chancery, court of 78, 85, 163, 172, 175 Chapel en le Frith 94–6, 101 Charles VI, King of France 271 Cheadle 228 Chelmerdon 97 Cheshire 220, 224 Chester 8, 75, 213–29 Chicester, Bishop of 211 Cholwich 36 churches, parish 15, 24 Cleves, Count of 252 Cohn, Samuel 8 coinage 11, 18–20, 27 Colchester 69, 73, 81, 247 Cologne, Bishop of 252–53 Coltishall 185, 186, 190 common law 149–57 Common Pleas, court of 155, 163, 175 communal leases 162–77 Cona ap David 225 constables 140, 179, 214, 226 Corfe Castle 111, 113–15, 123 Cornwall 30, 42, 47, 54, 142 Cornwood 31–2, 36, 38–41 Corringdon Ball 36 Cotswold region 15 court of Chancery. See Chancery, court of court of Common Pleas. See Common Pleas, court of Court, Pentice. See Pentice Court Courtenay family 31, 38–9, 43–4, 47, 48 courts, assize. See assizes courts, borough/urban 7, 69–87, 215–29 courts, eyre 129, 140, 141 courts, manorial. See manors, courts and court rolls courts, royal 8, 128–44, 149, 150, 153 Coventry 79, 84, 86 Bishop of 223

credit 8, 70–87 chains 74–7 see also debt litigation; lending criminal trials. See gaol deliveries Crownhill Down 38 Culm Measures 47 Curia Regis Rolls 205 Cuxham 151, 159, 188 Damerham 235 Dartford 130 Dartmoor 29–31, 34, 37–43, 47 Davenport, Frances 55 death duty. See heriot debt litigation 69–87, 209 deerparks 43, 46, 243–4 demesne leasing. See communal leases demesne managers 180–4, 186–90, 194 see also bailiffs; serjeants demography 25–6, 28, 50, 60–5, 70, 111, 125 dendrochronology 26 Denton, William 49 depopulation 7, 51, 53, 59, 63–5, 77, 97 Derby 142, 144 Derbyshire 8, 89–108 Devon 16, 30–2, 37–8, 43, 48, 134, 277 diet 2, 8, 66, 231–48 Dieulacres, Abbot of 219 Ditcheat 235 Dodds, Ben 57 Dodleston 219 Domesday Book 26, 36, 42, 166, 167, 174, 205, 206, 207 Doria of Genova 270 Dorset 76 Dover 220 Drenthe 250, 252–3, 256, 258, 260, 262–3, 265 Droxford 239 Dublin 222 Dumnonia 31 Durham, County 14, 57, 64 Dyer, Alan 59 Dyer, Christopher 9 and studies on archaeology 11, 27

298 and studies on discord 2–3, 7–8 and studies on economics 66, 78, 109, 111, 179 and studies on social structures 1–5, 11, 125, 160, 162, 179–80, 194, 210 and studies on survival 1–3, 7–8, 231–2 and studies on urban society 5–6, 71, 127–8, 144 Dynhams family 39 East Anglia 18 East Frisia 259, 260–2 East Pennard 235 ecclesiastical revenue 8, 89–108, 206 bees 94, 101 Easter Roll 93–4, 99–100, 101 ecclesiastical jurisdiction 94 glebe income 89–90, 94–5 mills 94, 96, 101 mortuaries 89, 95, 97–9, 101 pensions 94, 96, 101 rectories 90, 94–5, 98 rents 93–4, 96, 98, 101 tithes 46, 57–8, 63, 89–90, 93–8, 100–3, 105–9, 252, 255, 259 Edingale 199 Edith Noreys 120–2, 124–5 Edmund Walsingham, Sir 191 Edward I, King of England 40, 136, 147, 153, 214, 279 and assize courts 131 Edward II, King of England 281, 283 Edward III, King of England 131 Edward, the Black Prince 33, 223 Edward Weaver, Sir 228 Elizabeth I, Queen of England 171 Ely 191 Bishop of 235 Elydon 240 Emma Trim 225 Emo, Abbot of Bloemhof, chronicler 256, 262 epidemics 7, 64 see also Black Death Esher 238, 239 Essex 63–4, 130, 158, 184, 203, 275

Index exchange systems 13, 17–21 Exeter 69, 70, 73–4, 81, 86, 221 Bishop of 34–5 exports. See trade, foreign fairgrounds 17 Fareham 239 Farmer, David 54, 62 Fenland 16 field systems 12, 15–16, 21–2, 24, 26, 43, 163 Fivelgo 262 Flanders 255, 259, 261, 263–4 uprisings in 254, 257, 266, 270, 273, 282 urban centres 250–1, 265–6, 282 Flintshire 220 Flixborough 20 Florence 285 Florentine Ciompi 270, 271 Floris V, Count of Holland 253 Forncett 55 Fox, Harold 8, 9 France 273 King of 254–5 Franklin, Peter 197 Freiburg 244 Friesland 253–4 Frisia 250–1, 253–4, 258–9, 261–2, 265 see also East Frisia; West Frisia Froissart, Jean. See Jean Froissart gaol deliveries 132–44 Gascony 53 Genoa 270, 273 Gent 266 Geoffrey Cobbe 274 Geoffrey de Bulehornston 36 Geoffrey le Byke 123 Geoffrey Lister, leader of Peasants’ Revolt 274 Geoffrey Lorymer 73 geology 23, 30 Gerhard II, Archbishop of Bremen 251–2 German Peasants’ War 244, 249 Gidleigh 31, 41 Glanvill. See Ranulph de Glanvill Glastonbury, Abbey of 56, 197, 235, 236

299

Index Gloucester 283 see also Statute of Gloucester Gloucestershire 197 Goddard, Richard 8 Goldberg, Jeremy 125 Goltho 16 Goody, Jack 232 Gottfried, Robert 63–4 Gower, John. See John Gower Gray, Howard 52 Great Alleluia 271 Great Barton 183–4 Great Eversden 181, 190–5 Great Famine (1315–16) 273 Great Horwood 8, 161–75 Great Rising. See Peasants’ Revolt Great Waltham 62 Green, Alice 50 Grimsby 283 Groningen 256 Gruff Truthyn 225 Guelders, Count of 252, 262 guilds and fraternities 4, 24, 222–3, 265–6 Guy de Bryttavilla, lord of Cornwood 36 Halesowen 70, 151 Halstock 37 Hamel Down 39 Hampshire 167, 238, 239 Harrowing of the North 14 Harthill 96 Harvey, Barbara 64, 234 Hassop 97, 105 Hatcher, John 54, 64 Havering 63, 208 Haytor Down 32, 37 haywards 179, 183, 184 Heacham 234, 246 trials at 154, 156, 183, 186, 190 Heatree 34–5 Henri de Dinant 282 Henry I, King of England 129 Henry II, King of England 130 Henry III, King of England 146–8, 151, 153, 283–4

Henry IV, King of England 279 Henry VI, King of England 60, 279 Henry VIII, King of England 33 Henry Cooper 172 Henry de Plumptre 72 Henry Janitor 115 Henry Knighton, chronicler 244 Henry le Byke 123 Henry Procator 229 Henry Rathbone 218 Henry Vernon 96 Herefordshire 158 heriot 200–1, 208 Hertfordshire 243 Hesbaye 260 Hexworthy 38 High Easter 62 Highclere 239 Hilton, Rodney 2–4, 6, 70, 211, 249, 274, 280 Hinderclay 151 hinterlands, urban 6–7, 17, 70, 77 Hoell ap Res 225 Holland 250, 253–4, 258–61 Count of 252, 253–5, 261–2, 263 Hollingsworth, Thomas 62, 63 Holne Common 40 Holywell-cum-Needingworth 63 Hope (Derbyshire) 91, 95, 96, 98 Hope (Flintshire) 220 Hopkins, Sheila V. 112 Horsham St Faith 182 Hoskins, W. G. 5 Hugh de Courtenay 39 Hugh Neel 173 Hundred Years’ War 53, 124, 164 hunting 29–30, 48, 243–6 Huntingdon 135 Huntingdonshire 63, 135, 139 Hussites 270, 275 Huy 266 industry 106, 144 and deindustrialization 27 and foreign trade 58–60 building 110

300 ceramics 27 growth in production 17, 50, 60, 100 lead 100 tin 41 see also textile industry Ireland 213 Italy 270, 272, 273 Jacquerie, the 249, 270, 272 James I, King of England and Scotland 92 Jean Froissart, chronicler 242 Joanna I, Queen of Naples 276 Johanna Ferrour 273 Johannes de Beke, chronicler 257 John, King of England 33, 167 John Ailwaker 119 John atte Park 158 John Ball, leader of Peasants’ Revolt 242, 274 John Boltash 240 John Boteri 187 John Cokeyn 96 John Cole 74 John Corbet 73 John de Kykdon 72 John de Normanton 74, 75 John del Heth 76 John Dorham 75 John Doun 158 John Ewloe, mayor of Chester 226, 227 John Foscote 172 John Freburne, bailiff 191–2 John Frer, bailiff 185, 187 John Gower, author 240–2 John Hanchach 274 John Hawarden 227 John Hope 227 John Horn, alderman of London 275 John Kendall 76 John Kingsley 228 John le Ewer 72 John le Wayte 123, 125 John Lucas 119, 120 John Marys, bailiff 191–2 John Meyster, bailiff 185–6, 187 John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster 276

Index John of Sutton 69 John Oyewy 74 John Pepir 191 John Pike 219 John Rathbone 218 John Sandford 220 John Savage, Sir 228 John Savage junior 227 John Scot 157 John Skitson 73 John Stafford 96 John Stanley 73 John Stanley, Sir 228 John Tannesley 74 John Taylor 172 John the Smith 209 John Tyrrecaple 38 John Waldescef 187 John Walley 219 John Walshe 226 John Whitmore 227 John Wrawe, leader of Peasants’ Revolt 274 John Wybram 72 Jones, George F. 234 Jones, Richard 6 Joseph de Dalgate, bailiff 185, 186–7 Jülich, Count of 252 juries, jurors in cities 214–16, 220 in itinerant royal courts 135–41 in manor courts 156–7, 179, 181, 183–4, 186–95, 201, 209 Justices of the Peace 133–4, 136 Keene, Derek 79, 83, 85 Keepers of the Peace 133, 136 Kennemerland 253, 257–8, 262, 266–7 Kent 130, 133, 137, 157, 273, 275 Kenton 47 Kett’s rebellion 244 Kibworth Harcourt 62–3 King’s Augmentation Office 33 King’s Bench 155, 174 king’s peace 147, 153, 154, 155 Kingsett 38

Index Kingsthorpe 167, 173 Kipton 183, 184, 185–7, 190 Knighton. See Henry Knighton Kowaleski, Maryanne 70 labour 3 child 115–16 female 115–17, 120–3, 124–5 male 112–16, 124 prisoner 116–17 shortages of 62, 78, 250 Landbeach 185–8, 190 landscapes 2, 4, 5, 14, 25–6 Langdon, John 8, 25, 56 Langtoft 183–4 Laughton, Jane 8 Launceston 47 Leges Henrici Primi 139 Lehen 244 Leicester 74, 79 Leicestershire 63, 139 lending 73–5 Lenton Priory 97 Lewes 246 Lewis, Carenza 22 Lichfield, Bishop of 223 Dean and Chapter of 91–108 Liège 266, 282 Lilleshall, Abbey of 95 Lincoln 77, 282 Lincolnshire 25, 134, 140, 183 Linton 191 Little Eversden 190 Little Paxton 21 Littleport 183, 185, 187 London 67, 76, 280–5 Peasants’ Revolt in 272, 274, 276 population of 59, 64 Longueville 164 Low Countries 8, 249–68 Lucian, monk 223 Ludford 138 Ludlow 138 Lydford 30, 38

301 Macclesfield 220 MacFarlane, Alan 285 Magna Carta 131 Maidstone 130 Maitland, Frederic W. 146, 149, 156 Manaton 34–6 manors 3, 14, 89, 232, 234–5, 237–9, 246, 280 absence of 258–60 administration of 4, 8, 29–48, 102, 179–95 and trespass litigation 8, 145–60 courts and court rolls 4, 7, 8, 32, 44, 71, 82, 94–5, 145–60, 164, 166, 168, 170–6, 179–95, 197–203, 207–11, 228, 276 raids against 274–8 rents of 54–7, 61–2, 161–77 see also wastes manumission 171 Margaret Crosely 97 markets 7, 12, 18 Mary Tavy 38 Masschaele, James 8, 25 Matilda, wife of Edmund de Bayl 157 Meavy 34, 37 Matching 184–5, 187–9 Meaux, Abbey of 277 Medbourn 240 Melcombe Regis 76 Meldon quarry 43 Mercia 18 Merdon 238 Michel Pintoin, chronicler 272 Milbrook 167 Mildenhall 157, 182 Mile End 275 Miles Marshall 97 Milisent, concubine of John Frer 187 mills 56–8, 94, 96, 167, 169, 173 Milsom, Stroud F. C. 147, 153–5 mining 41, 100, 102 monasteries 17, 33–4, 90, 101, 108 Moreland, John 17 Müller, Miriam 8, 197, 277 Munro, John H. 60, 110–13 Münster, Bishop of 252–3 Musson, Anthony 133

302 Nantwich 228 Naples, King of 272 Natsworthy 32, 39 Naylor, John 20 Nedersticht Utrecht 261 Nether Gorddwr 45 Newton Longville 166 Nicholas de Berner, bailiff 185–6 Nicholas de Tamworth 164 Nicholas Farber 75 Nicholas Fytton 229 Nicholas le Woder 74 Nicholas Monksfield 219 Nicholas of Trim 225 Niederrhein 264 Nightingale, Pamela 64 Nonae Inquest 143 Noreys family 115, 120–2 Norfolk 154, 156, 182–3, 185, 234, 237, 274 Norman Conquest 14, 29, 30, 33, 38 North Waltham 239 Northampton 137, 167, 283 Northamptonshire 6, 15, 120, 140, 244 Northumberland 131n7 Norwich 213, 280 Nottingham 69–77, 79–84 Nottinghamshire 139 nucleation 23, 27, 163 Ogilby, John 30 Okehampton 32, 37, 40, 42–8 Okement, West and East 42 Old Salisbury 132 Oldenburg, Count of 251–2 One Ash 96 Ormrod, Mark 133 Otiwell Corbet 219 Owain Glyn Dër 225 Oxford 110, 132, 281–3 Magdalen College 167 Merton College 188 New College 164, 170–6 Oxfordshire 188 Page, Mark 6 Palliser, David 11, 13

Index Palmer, Robert C. 147 Paris 285 parochia 15 pastoralism. See animal husbandry peace bonds 217–20 peace sessions 129, 133–40, 144 Pearce, Susan 35 peasants as manorial officials 3–4, 179–95 communities of 4–5, 14, 24, 51, 162–77 diet 2, 231–48 dwellings of 7, 11, 28 labour 62, 78, 112–26 litigation 127–8, 149, 158–60, 197, 201–2, 205–11 revolts 3, 4, 197, 242, 269–81. See also German Peasants’ War; Kett’s rebellion; Peasants’ Revolt tenant-lord relations of 89, 161–77, 198–211 Peasants’ Revolt (1381) 197, 242–4, 249, 269, 272–81 Pentice Court 214, 216, 219–20, 223–4, 229 Pershore 6 Pew Tor 31 Phelps Brown, E. Henry 112 Philip de Somerville 199–203, 205–6, 209 Piero Capurro 270 Piers Ploughman 242 plague. See Black Death Plympton 31, 32, 38–9 Postan, Michael 8, 49–67 pottery 11, 27, 43 Powell, Edward 140 Power, Eileen 52 pre-industrial societies 232, 269, 271, 272 Prestwich, Michael 277 Privileges of Charlemagne 258 prostitutes 216, 225 Pugh, Ralph 131, 136 Quinton 167 Ralph Gell, bailiff 96, 105 Ralph Knocte 122 Ralph Margery 173

303

Index Ralph Sneyd 105 Ramsey 70, 73, 79, 81, 83 Abbey of 56 Ramshorn Down 34 Ranulph de Glanvill, Chief Justice 153 Razi, Zvi 150 Reading 143–4 Abbot of 143 rebellions 3, 4, 8, 197, 242, 269–85 in Low Countries 249–68 urban 7, 274 see also German Peasants’ War; Kett’s rebellion; Peasants’ Revolt recession, fifteenth-century 49, 53–5, 58–9, 65–6, 70, 77–87 reeves, in manors and demesne lands 4, 38 in urban centres 140, 168, 179, 180–90, 194–5, 200, 207, 209 rents 58, 61, 198–9, 202, 207–10, 259, 264 changes in 54–6, 78 money 198, 232 see also communal leases; ecclesiastical revenue Richard II, King of England 142, 273, 275–6 Richard, Andrew 76 Richard atte Welle 119 Richard Berman 73 Richard Bulkely 228 Richard Cok 97 Richard de Bullhornstone 40 Richard Haukeborn 73 Richard Haw 97 Richard Haydon, clerk 39 Richard of Acle, Master 20–2 Richard Onde 75 Richard Vernon 105 Richard Walley 219 Richard Warmington 222 Richard Wylbram 72 Richardson, Henry G. 146, 150 Richolda Noreys 120–2, 124–5 Rigby, Stephen 59 Rijnland 261 Ringmoor Down 34 Robert Bagh 219

Robert Bruyn 219, 229 Robert de Banleye 154 Robert de Goram 73 Robert de Ockley 73 Robert de Wynte 157 Robert Eyre 96 Robert Fretebuch 123 Robert Hales, Treasurer of England 273 Robert Hexteworthy 38 Robert Hope 227 Robert Hunte 97 Robert le Deghere 159–60 Robert Pantyre, bailiff 191–2 Roberts, Brian 17 Roche, Abbey of 96 Rochester 130 Rockingham Castle 111, 114–16, 123 Roger de Belgrave 74 Roger de Somerville 204–5 Roger en le Dale 99 Roger Ledsham 218, 229 Roger the Fuller 157 Rogers, Thorold 49 Rome 272 Rosa Crumpe 224 Rostherne 226 Russell, Josiah Cox 51, 61, 63, 65 Saer Syward 187 St Albans 64, 208, 274–6 Abbot of 243 St Faith Priory 164 St Ives 139 St Neots 136 Saint-Omer 265 Salisbury 136, 141, 142 Salisbury, Joyce E. 234 Salland 253, 260 Sandwich 273 Sawley 142 Sayles, George O. 146, 150 Scarborough 274 sceattas 18–19 Schofield, Phillipp 8 Scorriton Down 37

304 Scott, James C. 272, 277 Sedgeford 237 serjeants 181, 183, 185–6, 189–90, 194–5 settlement patterns 5–6, 8, 11–28 Anglo-Saxon 15–16, 19, 26–9, 35 Iron-Age 22 Roman 22, 25 Shapley Hellion 38 Shapwick 21 Shaugh Moor 31 Shaugh Prior 31 sheriffs 130, 133, 138–9, 214–15, 222, 226, 228–9 Shipston-on-Stour 7 Shrewsbury 138 battle of 225 Shropshire 138 Sibyl Dauney, lady of Cornwood 31 Siena 284 Simon Baret 246 Simon de Montfort, Earl 283 Simon de Quixlay 274 Simon de Wybbebiry, lord of Chagford 40 Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury 273 Singleborough 163 Slanning, John 33 Smith, Richard M. 150 Smithfield 244 Snowdown 37 sokemen 198, 200, 202, 207 Somerville family 198–211 Sopwell 243 Soussons 34–5 South Brent 31, 39, 40 South Holne Moor 33 South Tawton 32, 33, 41 Springfield Lyons 21 Staffordshire 8, 198–200, 203, 208, 219 standards of living 1–2, 11, 50, 66, 78, 109, 111, 280 Stapledon, Bishop of Essex 283 Statute concerning Diet and Apparel 240 Statute of Gloucester 147, 160 Statute of Labourers 240 Statute of Riots 279

Index Statute of Westminster II 131 Statute of Winchester 133, 140 Statute Staple Courts 76–7, 78, 85–6 Stavoren, battle of 254 Stebbing 62 Stedingen 250–1, 256–7, 259, 262–3 Stephen of London 225 Stoke Canon 47 Stratford-upon-Avon 6, 127 Street 56 Stuart, Charles 30 Suffolk 134, 151, 154, 182–3, 235, 246 rebellion in 3 Surrey 238, 277 Sussex 63, 211, 246, 277 Swabia 244 Swanson, Robert 8 Tarporley 226 Tavistock 30 Taylor, Christopher 25 Taylor, Mary Margaret 131 taxes 27, 254–5 lay subsidies 4 poll 276–7 returns 59 textile industry 54, 60–1, 66, 75, 79, 280 Thoen, Erik 8 Thomas de Holland 77 Thomas de Mutteslo, reeve 187 Thomas de Stanley 75 Thomas de Wednesley 93 Thomas de Welldon, Master 115, 120–1 Thomas Godsalve, chapter clerk 96, 105 Thomas Mallett 172 Thomas Manning 219 Thomas of Cornwall 225 Thomas Walsingham, chronicler 243 Thompson, James Westfall 52 Thornbury 70, 72–3, 81, 197–8 Throwleigh 47 Thrupp, Sylvia 63 Tideswell 91, 95 tithes. See ecclesiastical revenue Tompkins, Matthew 8, 9

Index Tournai 265 trade, foreign 52–3, 58, 60–1, 75, 77, 219 trespass litigation 8, 146–60 triator 216 turf-cutting 32, 39, 40–2 Twente 253 Tyler, Wat. See Wat Tyler Uppedoun 37 Upper Tees valley 16 Utrecht 262, 266 Vale Royal 206 Valor Ecclesiasticus 94–6, 98 van Bavel, Bas 8 Vancouver, Charles 42 Vikings 19 Viterbo 272, 276 Vox Clamantis 240–1 wages 8, 61, 239–40, 254, 263 in building employment 109–26 rising of 62–3, 65, 78 Wakefield 151, 157 Wales 224–6, 283 Walkhampton Common 31, 33 Wallingford 143 Walter, prisoner 116 Walter Holman 240 Walter of Rempstone 72 Walter Ryche 240 Walton 56 wardships 171, 176 Warwickshire 167 wastes, wasteland 29–48, 209, 260 Wat Tyler, leader of Peasants’ Revolt 274, 276 water management 253, 261, 263 Waterland 253 Watford 243 Wealden 63 Weasenham 183 Wessex 31 West Cotton 244 West Frisia 253–4, 257–8, 260

305 Westminster 134, 137, 174 Abbey of 55, 234, 284–5 see also Statute of Westminster II Whelpdale, Master 96 Whittlewood 5, 15, 22 Wickham, Chris 31 wics 11, 17–18 Widecome 30 Wilbraham 192 William II, King, Count of Holland 253 William, Lord of Hastings 95, 99, 101, 104–5 William, son of Robert of Bumstede 158 William ap Powell 76 Willliam Appleton, physician of Richard II 273 William Bagshawe, vicar of Hope 105 William Brewer, sheriff of Devon 32 William Castleacre, Sir 191, 193 William Chapple 47 William Colet 76 William Cooper 172 William Criche 74 William de Acle 120 William de Estune 236 William de Harthill 69 William de Langdon 40 William de Skepwith 134 William de Thornhaugh 77 William Dylkyn 122 William FitzOsbert (‘Longbeard’) 282 William Gybbe, bailiff 191 William Ilkeston 73 William Kirke, vicar of Bakewell 105 William Kyngeshete 38 William Langland, author 242 William Lech 73 William Lune, reeve 183 William Noreys (Noreis) 120–1, 124–5 William of Blyth 139 William Prentys 76 William Scot 157 William Stanley, Sir 222 William Toller 75, 77 William Venables, constable 226, 227 William Warde, bailiff 191, 193 William Wroo 73

306 Williamson, Tom 15, 23 Wiltshire 22, 142, 197, 240, 277 assizes in 131 gaol deliveries in 136, 140–1 Winchester 54, 64, 69, 280 Bishop of 124n47, 167 bishopric of 237, 239, 248 debts and debt pleas in 71, 74–5, 79, 81–7 see also Statute of Winchester Windsor 111, 113–19, 123, 125, 143 Woodbine, George E. 160 Woodstock 111, 113–16, 123 woodwards 184

Index Worcester 2, 55, 90 Worcestershire 134 Wormhill 96 Wrathmell, Stuart 17 Wychnor 203 Wythemail 28 Yarnton 16, 21 Yennadon Down 37 York 125, 213, 274, 280, 282 Yorkshire 20 Zeeland 260

T ABULA G RATULATORIA

Umberto Albarella Isabel Alfonso Grenville Astill Jean Birrell Jacques Boucard Monique Bourin Niall Brady Chris Briggs Richard Britnell Jan Capoen Sandro Carocci Samuel K. Cohn, Jr Peter Coss Anne R. Dewindt Simon Forde Harold Fox Paul Freedman Mark Gardiner Richard Goddard Piotr Górecki Barbara Harvey Paul D. A. Harvey Jennifer S. Holt Richard Holt P. C. M. Hoppenbrouwers R . W. Hoyle Institute for History and Area Studies, Aarhus University John Langdon Jane Laughton Carenza Lewis

Christian Liddy Lars Ljunggren James Masschaele Mavis E. Mate Miriam Müller John H. Munro Margaret Murphy Janken Myrdal Jeppe Büchert Netterstrøm Michael Potterton Steve Rigby Sigrid Schmitt Phillipp R. Schofield Robert Swanson Erik Thoen Lluís To Figueras Matthew Tompkins Bas J. P. van Bavel Chris Wickham

T HE M EDIEVAL C OUNTRYSIDE

All volumes in this series are evaluated by an Editorial Board, strictly on academic grounds, based on reports prepared by referees who have been commissioned by virtue of their specialism in the appropriate field. The Board ensures that the screening is done independently and without conflicts of interest. The definitive texts supplied by authors are also subject to review by the Board before being approved for publication. Further, the volumes are copyedited to conform to the publisher’s stylebook and to the best international academic standards in the field.

Titles in series The Rural History of Medieval European Societies: Trends and Perspectives, ed. by Isabel Alfonso (2007) Eva Svensson, The Medieval Household: Daily Life in Castles and Farmsteads. Scandinavian Examples in their European Context (2008) Land, Power, and Society in Medieval Castile: A Study of Behetría Lordship, ed. by Cristina Jular Pérez-Alfaro and Carlos Estepa Díez (2009)