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E.A. Jones

Fathers. 3 (Modern scholarship has pointed out that there were Desert Mothers, too, but the Middle Ages do not emphasise the role of women in the early eremitic movement.) With the end of the persecutions of Diocletian and the outbreak of religious tolerance in the Roman Empire under Constantine (emperor 306–337), Christianity had lost its dangerous, ‘edgy’ status as a countercultural movement (it would become the official

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
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-scale industrial production for largely local and regional consumption, while its merchant class showed, with individual exceptions, limited entrepreneurial flair. Although its importance in the distributive trade endured throughout the Middle Ages, local industry was principally responsive to London’s diverse and relatively wealthy consumer market. 57 If there was no English take-off to

in Towns in medieval England

personal privacy denied to humbler classes [ 64 ], [ 65 ]. 7 The question of the quality of life in this context calls for careful assessment. It is evident that some townspeople lived not only prosperously but well. At the same time, contemporaries were aware that money was not everything, and the view is recorded that even the rich could suffer in human and spiritual ways for

in Towns in medieval England
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larger class of associations with less socially elevated memberships and whose solidarity was expressed on a more modest scale [ 93 ]. The relatively small contributions required by the majority of such institutions were within the financial reach of artisans and shopkeepers, and these – both men and women – comprised the greatest proportion of the memberships. Many guilds, however, attracted a social

in Towns in medieval England
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concentration of goldsmiths’ and other luxury shops along Cheapside [ 8 ]. 10 The craftsmen working in the Nottingham alabaster industry found a profitable outlet through the shops of London [ 30(b) ]; 11 and here, strategically poised between the mercantile class of the city and the courtiers of Westminster, William Caxton in 1476 set up the first English printing press, and his bookshop ‘at the sign of the

in Towns in medieval England
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Urban society in the Middle Ages was in some important ways very like that of the countryside. Notwithstanding the old fable that ‘town air makes free’, the peasant who escaped dependence upon a rural landlord and found her or his way to the city was vulnerable to exploition in analogous ways to the villeins and cottagers they had left behind. Their employer, normally a

in Towns in medieval England

professional career, a working man or woman typically moved to and fro across this economic divide, complicating the image of a clear class distinction. 8 The group of townsmen in Oxford who in the middle of the thirteenth century identified themselves as ‘the lesser burgesses’ and who claimed to speak for the ‘lower commune’ of the city, catalogued a series of grievances which focused on the

in Towns in medieval England

world, is a rare survivor of a much larger class of imagery which, like the plays, did not merely repeat familiar platitudes but engaged the senses and the minds of contemporary witnesses through arresting and potentially unsettling testimonies to another order of reality, close to and yet critically distinct from that which prevailed in the everyday world of the town [ 109 ]. In addition to the material

in Towns in medieval England
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should also be understood that in the middle of the town, equitably positioned for all, is a market of copious goods, especially food, frequented by local people and outsiders who bring cash and return with provender. This is doubtless an image of the eternal bread which came from heaven to be born, as the prophets said, ‘in the centre and umbilical knot of the earth’, thereby appearing equally to all

in Towns in medieval England
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Lampert of Hersfeld, according to the standard work on the German narrative sources of the Middle Ages, ‘was one of the best stylists and the most erudite authors whom the Middle Ages produced: indeed among the medieval historians of Germany none could come near his linguistic artistry, his great literary elegance. Moreover in terms of content Lampert captivated by his

in The Annals of Lampert of Hersfeld