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The composition of famuli labour on English demesnes, c.1300

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This article explores the nature of agricultural labour in England c. 1300. Using a national sample of over 400 manorial accounts containing detailed data for over 4000 individuals, the piece looks closely at famuli labour, the nucleus of the workforce on seigneurial demesnes (the farms directly cultivated by manorial lords as opposed to the land of their tenants) at the beginning of the fourteenth century, a period considered to be the pinnacle of medieval population and intensive land exploitation. By examining the rates of remuneration as well as the availability of work for the range of famuli labourers, we argue that famuli labour was divided into a bipartite system of first- and second-tier workers where core, or first-tier (and mostly male), labourers such as ploughmen, carters, and shepherds were paid higher wages and presented with more opportunities to work as compared to a group of more subsidiary 'second-tier' labourers largely comprised of women, the young and the elderly.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Agricultural History Review is the leading journal for the publication of original research in all aspects of agricultural and rural history. First published in 1952, the Review reflects the diversity of approaches which are possible in rural history. Its editors welcome submissions in any aspect of the history of agriculture, rural society and rural economy over the past millennium. Whilst it is not concerned with current policy debates, it is interested in considering discussions of the historical dimensions of current problems in rural society and food supply. The Review is especially strong in British rural history, but actively seeks submissions in European and American rural history and has no bar on submissions concerning the remainder of the world. It is also the journal of record for book reviews in the discipline.

    Agricultural History Review has an international editorial board. The current editors are Professor R. W. Hoyle, University of Reading, UK who is responsible for articles, and Professor H. R. French, University of Exeter who serves as editor for book reviews. The Review is fully peer-refereed.

    Agricultural History Review is published by the British Agricultural History Society from whom personal subscriptions may be obtained.
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