This book uses a study of a north Essex village to make a contribution to our knowledge of England between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Earls Colne has been well known to historians as the parish of the seventeenth-century clerical diarist, Ralph Josselin, and was the subject of an extended research project by Alan Macfarlane in the early 1970s, which informed his study of English Individualism. Now, it is considered in the round with some surprising results. The authors test the theoretical perspectives of both Macfarlane and Robert Brenner, and reach new conclusions about the character of English rural society and the role that land played in it. The book asks fundamental questions about the ownership of land in early modern England and introduces a new methodology to examine these questions. In addition, it is also a study of a village with a resident gentry family — the Harlakendens — showing that the attempts by these new lords to re-mould the village after 1580 alienated many, leading to a series of well-documented power struggles. Ultimately, the book demonstrates that the Harlakendens failed to stamp their mark on the community, and their authority slowly ebbed away. In their place emerged an alternative power system dominated by copyholders and tenant farmers, who provide a rich gallery of village characters.
Very large numbers of people began to depart the British Isles for the New Worlds after about 1770. This was a pioneering movement, a rehearsal for modern international migration. This book contends that emigration history is not seamless, that it contains large shifts over time and place, and that the modern scale and velocity of mobility have very particular historical roots. The Isle of Man is an ideal starting point in the quest for the engines and mechanisms of emigration, and a particular version of the widespread surge in British emigration in the 1820s. West Sussex was much closer to the centres of the expansionary economy in the new age. North America was the earliest and the greatest theatre of oceanic emigration in which the methods of mass migration were pioneered. Landlocked Shropshire experienced some of the earliest phases of British industrialisation, notably in the Ironbridge/Coalbrookdale district, deep inland on the River Severn. The turmoil in the agrarian and demographic foundations of life reached across the British archipelago. In West Cork and North Tipperary, there was clear evidence of the great structural changes that shook the foundations of these rural societies. The book also discusses the sequences and effects of migration in Wales, Swaledale, Cornwall, Kent, London, and Scottish Highlands. It also deals with Ireland's place in the more generic context of the origins of migration from the British Isles. The common historical understanding is that the pre-industrial population of the British Isles had been held back by Malthusian checks.
In the following chapters, we will examine the ways in which debates or particular avenues of research have emerged from three main strands of research identified in the previous chapters. These chapters identify features of the relevant historiography that often relate to or respond to the major shifts in our understanding of the medieval peasantry. Some of these developments reflect an intensification or a deepening of research in relation to more general theories regarding the functioning of medieval ruralsociety and economy. In
rules of belonging for all. The economic
‘take-off’ that began in the late 1950s changed Ireland from a predominantly rural to a predominantly urban society. It also resulted in the displacement of the Travelling People, the name they preferred, from their
precarious niche in ruralsociety. The Commission was set up at a time
when Travellers had become displaced from the rural economy and were
identified as an urban (and suburban) problem by the majority community. The impetus that led to its establishment is captured in the title
of Aoife Bhreatnach’s Becoming
one grounded in the classic debates over land,
agriculture and the character of ruralsociety. It is not only that early
modern society was rooted in the land. The significance of these debates
also rests on a long historiographical tradition, which argues for the
peculiarity of English landholding arrangements and asserts that
because of them, England was the first industrial nation. The notion that
English agricultural practices and institutions were superior to those of
The character of English ruralsociety
France can be traced back at least as far as
the nineteenth century onwards is striking, as we have seen throughout this volume. The tenacity of long-standing research agendas, often modified in their emphases but seldom abandoned in their entirety, has had consequences for the range of study and the kinds of intellectual and cross-disciplinary engagement undertaken by students of the medieval English peasantry.
In the first instance, study of any historical period or theme is, of course, conditioned by the available sources. Historians have addressed ruralsociety and the peasantry
‘soldier’ remained distinct from civilian in Byzantine law and administrative practice, not least because it determined eligibility for legal privileges and fiscal immunities.
Who was a ‘soldier’? And why?
The basic institution of Byzantine ruralsociety was the village ( chōrion , ktēsis ), which was both a community of freeholders – varying in status and wealth but sharing space, environment and identity – and a mostly self-regulating fiscal-administrative unit with communal tax liabilities.
and the surrounding agricultural districts of Counties
Cork, Waterford and Kerry, which increasingly focused their production to
meet the needs of the Atlantic provisions trade. An important result of commercialization, particularly in the highly fertile tillage districts of north and
east Cork, was the tripartite division of ruralsociety into a predominantly
Protestant upper class gentry of landowners, a largely Catholic middling
order of farmers and cattlemen, and an overwhelmingly Catholic lower
stratum of cottiers and labourers.1 Signiﬁcantly, it is exactly
Priests as neighbours in early medieval local societies
Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock
obtaining land in ways that would not have met with episcopal or canonical approval. Fourthly, we shall consider the charter-writing activities that, thanks to their education, priests often also carried out within local ruralsocieties.
The challenge is to provide a framework built on different types of evidence from various regions of the early medieval Christian West: from northern Iberia to Anglo-Saxon England through the Frankish realms to northern and central Italy. There were important differences between these areas in terms of settlement and ecclesiastical
Until now, the function of tower houses within a predominantly rural society
has been discussed. This chapter illustrates how they were equally urban
phenomena, present in pre-modern towns and cities. Their functions in these
urban landscapes were different to their roles in the rural environment. In
towns they operated as merchant residences, business venues and extensions
of commerce. New evidence is provided for a public role for urban tower
houses, reminding us that we cannot simply view fortifications as a