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Rural Society and Economic Change in County Durham: Recession and Recovery, c.1400-1640

Brown, A.T.



In the middle of the fifteenth-century, the economy of north-east England was beset by crises: population was low, production was stagnant and many landowners faced penury. By the end of the sixteenth century, however, the precocious development of the coal industry and high levels of inflation provided opportunities for investment and profit in the Durham countryside. Although this period is often seen as a transitional era between medieval and early-modern England, this book argues that it needs to be studied as one long agrarian cycle, showing the degree to which patterns of landholding fixed during the fifteenth-century recession affected the distribution of profits between different types of lords and tenants in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. This northern study examines the development of agrarian capitalism; estate management; tenure and the land market; social mobility; the gentrification of merchant wealth and the emergence of the yeomanry, as well as re-assessing the debates on the rise of the gentry and crisis of the aristocracy. What role did estates and institutions play in the development of agrarian capitalism? How was the coal industry affected by the fifteenth-century recession and what effect did the rapid take-off in this trade have upon landed society? Above all, how did the wholesale economic changes of this period affect the social structure of late-medieval and early-modern England?


Brown, A. (2015). Rural Society and Economic Change in County Durham: Recession and Recovery, c.1400-1640. Boydell & Brewer

Book Type Authored Book
Acceptance Date May 30, 2015
Online Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Publication Date 2015-11
Deposit Date Aug 20, 2013
Publisher Boydell & Brewer
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