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The role of demesnes in the trade of agricultural horses in late medieval England

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This paper explores the question of how medieval England was supplied with working horses. It uses a national sample of over 300 manorial accounts from c.1300 to assess the role of demesnes in the production and distribution of these animals. It finds that demesnes were significant net consumers of horses, relying primarily upon the market for their supply. This illustrates that there was a well-established market for these animals by c.1300, but also that these large institutional farms did not breed enough horses to sustain their own demand, let alone a surplus that could have supplied the market. Demesne managers did, however, fill an important distributive role in the trade of agricultural horses by acting as 'middle men' in marshalling the various channels of work horse acquisition and dispersion.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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 1953, 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 P. S. Warde, University of Cambridge, UK, who is responsible for articles, and Dr J. E. Morgan, University of Bristol, UK, 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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