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Town and Countryside in western Berkshire, c.1327-c.1600

Town and Countryside in western Berkshire, c.1327-c.1600: Social and Economic Change

Margaret Yates
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Town and Countryside in western Berkshire, c.1327-c.1600
    Book Description:

    The traditional boundary between the medieval and early modern periods is challenged in this new study of social and economic change that bridges the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It addresses the large historical questions - what changed, when and why - through a detailed case study of western Berkshire and Newbury, integrating the experiences of both town and countryside. Newbury is of particular interest being a rising cloth manufacturing centre that had contacts with London and overseas due to its specialist production of kerseys. The evidence comes from original documentary research and the data are clearly presented in tables and graphs. It is a book alive with the actions of people, famous men such as the clothier John Winchcombe known as 'Jack of Newbury', but more notably by the hundreds of individuals, such as William Eyston or Isabella Bullford, who acquired property, cultivated their lands, or, in the case of Isabella, managed the mill complex after her husband's death. MARGARET YATES is Lecturer in History at the University of Reading.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-600-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of tables, figures and maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The end of the Middle Ages?
    (pp. 1-23)

    A powerful concept has developed in the minds of historians and the history-reading public alike that society and the economy of the sixteenth century were fundamentally different from what had gone before.¹ A historical fault line of seismic proportions lies at the end of the fifteenth century. It has been re-enforced by the institutional and academic divisions within the discipline into ‘periods’ of history as medieval, early modern and modern which have led to segregation into specialisms and a fragmentation of research into chronologically discrete agendas.² This notion is now challenged by medievalists who argue that core structures and important...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Landscapes, population and wealth in western Berkshire from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century
    (pp. 24-66)

    It is worth stating again that the different landscapes, economies and societies of the regions of rural England affected the pace of change in their various localities. The pre-modern rural economy was heavily influenced by the geological and topographical structure of its regions. Whether we divide England into highland and lowland regions, or into champion and woodland areas, or by dispersed and nucleated settlement patterns, the regional differences across the country are clear. It is widely accepted that these underlying features account for one of the most fundamental explanations for regional variations in the economy. How landscape shaped the local...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Town and country relations: Newbury and its hinterland
    (pp. 67-124)

    Urban–rural relationships are an important dynamic in any study of past societies and economies. It is readily accepted among historians that towns can be defined simply as a relatively dense and permanent concentration of residents engaged in a multiplicity of activities, a substantial proportion of which were non-agrarian.¹ This definition, however useful, isolates the town and omits the relationship with its immediate surrounding countryside, with other towns, and its place within a market network. Towns fulfilled essential social and economic functions that inextricably bound them into a series of both local and wider relationships. Geographers and archaeologists have developed...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Estate Management and Profitability
    (pp. 125-174)

    It is stating the obvious that landlords did not form a homogenous social group and the problem to be addressed in this chapter is the extent to which the different administrative regimes of the various lords affected the pace of change in the locality and the profitability of their estates.¹

    Land formed the basis of any agrarian economy and therefore who owned the land and how it was administered would have had wide-ranging social consequences. The style of administration adopted would be influenced by various factors including the size of the estate,² region in which it was situated,³ the underlying...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Tenant Society
    (pp. 175-231)

    The main objective of this chapter is to examine the social and economic events of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries from the tenants’ view-point. Tenant society in western Berkshire was the dynamic element in the process of change. These were the people who took up the tenancies, paid the rents and entry fines, worked the land, and traded across most of southern England, and as far away as Calais and Antwerp in some instances. They also operated within the more general, and often restrictive, economic conditions of the period. Nevertheless, we will argue that they remained the proactive force in...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Conclusion: The Chronology of Change
    (pp. 232-249)

    The chronological coverage of this book has been constructed to bridge the historical fault line that delineates the end of the middle ages. We have been engaged in finding answers to the questions, ‘what changed, when, and why?’ through a detailed examination of town and countryside in western Berkshire. The purpose of this chapter is to draw together those features of the economy and society which have a chronological significance and allow us to chart change over time and to place Berkshire in its wider context. It will have the advantage of refining our understanding of change between the fourteenth...

  12. APPENDIX I Documents, methodology and data relating to chapter 2
    (pp. 250-261)
  13. APPENDIX II Comparative data for imports of woad and wine through Southampton from 1439–40 to 1491–92
    (pp. 262-263)
  14. APPENDIX III Methodology and documentation for the case studies of chapter 4
    (pp. 264-267)
  15. APPENDIX IV Tables containing the full data relating to chapter 5
    (pp. 268-272)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-324)
  17. Index
    (pp. 325-338)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 339-339)