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Look Inside The Moral Economy of the Countryside

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


  • Publication planned for: November 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from November 2019
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108720069

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Presents a new approach to understanding early medieval society through the shared values of the 'moral economy'
    • Makes use of previously unpublished and neglected source materials
    • Looks at human relationships in the English countryside between the end of the Roman period and the year 1200
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In the third of a sequence of magisterial and thought provoking books about early English rural society, Rosamond 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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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: November 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108720069
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • availability: Not yet published - available from November 2019
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the moral economy
    Part I. Rank:
    2. Lordship
    3. Our island story
    4. Honour and respect in peasant society
    Part II. Reciprocity:
    5. Hospitality
    6. Hearth, household and farm
    Part III. Reputation and Witness:
    7. Neighbours and strangers
    8. Markets and marketing
    Part IV. The Wolf Sniffs the Wind:
    9. HWILOM WÆS: Archbishop Wulfstan's old social order
    10. Land, law and office
    Part V. The Aftermath of Conquest:
    11. New words in the countryside
    12. Narrating the new social order
    Part VI. In the World of the Manor:
    13. Establishing custom
    14. Thinking feudally
    15. From rank to class
    16. Conclusion: forward into the past
    Appendix. The family farm in peasant studies

  • Author

    Rosamond Faith, University of Cambridge
    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.

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