A Rural Society after the Black Death: Essex 1350-1525 by L. R. Poos

By L. R. Poos

A Rural Society after the Black loss of life is a learn of rural social constitution within the English county of Essex among 1350 and 1500. It seeks to appreciate how, within the inhabitants cave in after the Black loss of life (1348-1349), a selected fiscal atmosphere affected usual people's lives within the parts of migration, marriage and employment, and likewise contributed to styles of spiritual nonconformity, agrarian riots and unrest, or even rural housing. The interval below scrutiny is usually noticeable as a transitional period among 'medieval' and 'early-modern' England, yet within the gentle of modern advances in English old demography, this research means that there has been extra continuity than switch in a few significantly vital facets of social constitution within the area in query. one of the most vital contributions of the booklet are its use of an unprecedentedly wide selection of unique manuscript files (estate and manorial documents, taxation and criminal-court files, royal tenurial files, and the documents of church courts, wills etc.) and its program of present quantitative and comparative demographic tools.

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Pp. 56-7, and 'Medieval market towns', esp. pp. 21-3. Cf. Hilton, The English peasantry in the later middle ages, p. 13: Hilton's influential definition of the peasantry as a class includes as a central element labourers, artisans, building workers' who are derived from and form part of the peasantry. g. Hilton, Bond men made free, pp. 169-72. This tabulation follows in form the analysis of early-sixteenth-century Suffolk tax returns in Patten, 'Village and town'. The author is grateful to Roger Schofield for suggesting this approach to him.

399-401, 468-70. 32 The only source yielding anything like a systematic impression of the relative size of these three occupational groupings in late-medieval Essex is the returns from the 1381 poll-tax collection. This means that at only one fixed point during the later middle ages can even an approximate occupational composition be glimpsed; significant later changes in this composition are conceivable, but unlikely to have altered things entirely. 33 These records are the closest approximation to a census enumeration that survives from the later-medieval period in England, but they fall well short of a census in that, for example, it is impossible to gauge household size and structure from them.

46 Such is the picture that emerges from a variety of evidence from the fourteenth and early-to-mid-fifteenth centuries. To trace occupational or tenurial structure on through to the chronological end point of this study is more difficult. The very nature of many of the most commonly used sources for English local history changes considerably from the late 1300s to the mid-i5oos, a genuine barrier to perceiving the transition from 'medieval' to 'early-modern'. But one further body of material - the subsidy returns of 1524 and 1525 - suggests that in the early sixteenth century, central and northern Essex was little changed from the more immediately post-Black Death period in all these respects.

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