By John Hatcher
This booklet surveys the main influential theoretical techniques followed for the learn of medieval economic climate and society. It bargains an available advent to medieval monetary background, an updated critique of confirmed versions, and a succinct treatise on historiographical process.
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Additional resources for Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England's Economic Development
But complexity and elaboration is often superficial, since it stems primarily from the multiplicity of abstractions that need to be adopted, and from the arcane language in which they are frequently expressed. By contrast with their theoretical superstructures, the factual bases of most models are ruthless exercises in simplification, which depend upon stereotypes and broad categories to represent what would otherwise prove an overwhelming range and diversity of innumerable pieces of evidence. Thus, for models purporting to demonstrate the intensity of the pressures of rising population on scarce resources in the thirteenth century, the remorselessness of struggles between landlords and villeins, or the inexorable rise of the money economy, instances of cultivated moorland reverting to pasture, or of tenants willingly paying part of their rent in kind by working reasonably competently for their lord, must be deemed to be of less significance than contrary instances.
Attempts by medieval farmers to raise output by reorganizing the layout of open field systems and the rotations of crops grown on them also receive considerable attention. Knowledge of the nature and variety of local field systems has expanded since the population– resources model was first outlined, yet Postan was always aware that local differences in topography had resulted in the adoption of field systems of varying intensity, such as the use of the famous infield–outfield system on less fertile soils.
M. Postan, nd edn. (Cambridge, ), – (hereafter cited as CEHE, i), provide the best introduction to his work. J. Z. , (). M. M. Postan, The Medieval Economy and Society: An Economic History of Britain – (), . Population and Resources / extreme degree of overpopulation at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, then it follows that the population downturn of the fourteenth century would be best explained by the triggering of endogenous demographic checks.
Modelling the Middle Ages: The History and Theory of England's Economic Development by John Hatcher