Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/18559
Title: The Postan Thesis and Beyond: The English Agrarian Economy c.1200-1348
Contributor(s): Barnes, Cameron (author); Falkus, Malcolm (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 1993
Copyright Date: 1992
Open Access: Yes
Handle Link: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/18559
Abstract: The thirteenth century is generally regarded by economic historians as a period of extremely rapid demographic growth in England. It is believed that this increase in population meant that poorer and poorer lands were gradually taken under the plough. This trend, it is argued, led to an increasing disequilibrium between population and resources. In particular, the assumption is made that the ploughing-up of waste lands once used for grazing resulted in a worsening shortage of livestock and a progressive decline in the fertility of the arable land. ... Despite the progress made in the study of medieval English agriculture over the last two decades, there has been no thorough re-assessment of the Postan's interpretation of English agrarian history in the pre-1348 period. Perhaps because of the range of Postan's arguments, critics and commentators have been reluctant to embark on a comprehensive re-examination of the case upon which the Postan thesis rests. Nor has there been any attempt to draw together the different threads of debate or to examine the full implications of more recent research. A thorough re-assessment of the Postan thesis as it relates to the decades before the Plague is therefore long overdue. This dissertation is intended to provide such a re-examination. The Postan thesis will be reviewed in light of more recent research into English agriculture before the Black Death, and the criticisms made of Postan's model over the last two decades. It will be argued that, although the Postan thesis offers important insights into the pre-1348 period, the opportunities for a successful adaptation to demographic stress before the Black Death were perhaps greater than Postan believed. A case will be made therefore for a more optimistic interpretation of the process of economic change in England during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Rights Statement: Copyright 1992 - Cameron Barnes
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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