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Title: Freedman, Paul, and Monique Bourin, eds, 'Forces of Servitude in Northern and Central Europe: Decline, Resistance, and Expansion': (Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 9), Turnhout, Brepols, 2007; hardback; pp. x, 449; 22 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. €80.00; ISBN 2503516947.
Contributor(s): Ryan, John Sprott  (author)
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: This volume presents papers given at a 2003 conference on servitude and its (apparent) expansion in the late Middle Ages, a process due either to the nobles' greater power or to the economic crises following on the Black Death. This expansion varied by region and phase of the process down to the sixteenth century, and it is one central to an understanding of the ambiguous condition of the peasants and to the systems of land tenure operating throughout that period. The consequence of almost a century of scholarly investigation of the issue is a clearer notion of this aspect of the overall feudal structure as one parallel to the differing forms of – or complementary to – the vassalage between a knight and his lord. Ceremony, contract and obligation are explored to shed light on the bonds by which the land was painfully but effectively exploited. These papers address the basic problems: how widespread serfdom was; how it affected ordinary lives; and its further progress in the period. The results are complex: considerable local variation, as between the more enlightened Normandy or the harsher Castile.
Publication Type: Review
Source of Publication: Parergon, 25(1), p. 274-275
Publisher: Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Place of Publication: Perth, Australia
ISSN: 0313-6221
Field of Research (FOR): 200310 Other European Languages
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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