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Technology, labour, and productivity potential in peasant agriculture: England, c.1000 to 1348

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The period between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries was one of rising population and increasing pressure on land and resources. Access to land per person and per household declined as peasant arable holdings were fragmented to make room for this growing population, and an increasing proportion of the population was left reliant on smallholdings from which to earn a living. How so many people were able to live off of so little land is a crucial problem in our understanding of the high and late medieval economy. Through examination of illuminated manuscripts, religious iconography, archaeological findings and written records, we identify a series of agricultural techniques, well suited to the growing number smallholding peasants, and argue that peasants were able to achieve high levels of land productivity through the labour-intensive use of small-scale technologies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 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. R. 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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