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The Moral Economy of the Countryside

Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman England

Rosamond Faith



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Cambridge University Press
31 October 2019
British & Irish history; Early history: c 500 to c 1450&1500; Social & cultural history; Social classes; Rural communities
How were manorial lords in the twelfth and thirteenth century able to appropriate peasant labour? And what does this reveal about the changing attitudes and values of medieval England? Considering these questions from the perspective of the 'moral economy', the web of shared values within a society, Rosamond Faith offers a penetrating portrait of a changing world. Anglo-Saxon lords were powerful in many ways but their power did not stem directly from their ownership of land. The values of early medieval England - principally those of rank, reciprocity and worth - were shared across society. The Norman Conquest brought in new attitudes both to land and to the relationship between lords and peasants, and the Domesday Book conveyed the novel concept of 'tenure'. The new 'feudal thinking' permeated all relationships concerned with land: peasant farmers were now manorial tenants, owing labour and rent. Many people looked back to better days.
By:   Rosamond Faith
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 228mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 14mm
Weight:   370g
ISBN:   9781108720069
ISBN 10:   1108720064
Pages:   244
Publication Date:   31 October 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Rosamond Faith is author of The English Peasantry and the Growth of Lordship (1997) and co-author, with Debby Banham, of Anglo-Saxon Farms and Farming (2014). Her research has focused on peasant families and farms in medieval Provence and England, and on the nature of lordship, peasant resistance and how medieval people managed the different landscapes they lived in.

Reviews for The Moral Economy of the Countryside: Anglo-Saxon to Anglo-Norman England

In the third of a sequence of magisterial and thought provoking books about early English rural society, Ros Faith forces us to face the problem of how lordship managed to establish itself in Anglo-Saxon England at all. Her profound and radical understanding of how peasant life works on the ground shines through at every point. Everyone who is interested in English society before 1200, or indeed later, will have to read this book. Chris Wickham, University of Oxford Representing the fruit of over five decades' work on the medieval peasantry, this book takes us closer to the lived world of the Anglo-Saxon peasantry than I would have ever thought possible. It revises traditional wisdom on a host of important subjects, from the origins of feudalism to the impact on the Norman Conquest, and will be the go-to book on early English rural society and life for many years to come. Levi Roach, University of Exeter

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