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Surviving the mid-fifteenth-century recession : Durham cathedral priory, 1400-1520

Brown, A.T.

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The exact chronology of the fifteenth-century recession and its impact on medieval landowners is still far from clear, whilst the stimulus and timing of recovery are even more uncertain. Recent research has shown that the economy of the North-East of England stagnated after the recession with few signs of recovery. Despite this, successive bursars of Durham Priory were able to reduce arrears, waste and decay from a combined total of £540 in 1453/4 to a meagre £18 by 1519/20, whilst simultaneously raising overall rents by £130. This was made possible by the responsiveness of the bursars of Durham Priory who consciously adapted their style of management, rent collection process, and even repairs, all in the pursuit of increased efficiency. Landlords did not become passive with the leasing of their lands, and this concerted effort by a northern landowner to improve efficiency is in evidence across England. This was not a period of continuous decline or stagnation, even in the North-East, and the improvement in rent collection found here may reflect upon recovery in the region that other economic indicators, such as cash tithe receipts, are not sensitive enough to register.


Brown, A. (2010). Surviving the mid-fifteenth-century recession : Durham cathedral priory, 1400-1520. Northern History, 47(2), 209-231.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2010
Deposit Date Aug 20, 2013
Publicly Available Date Sep 6, 2013
Journal Northern History
Print ISSN 0078-172X
Electronic ISSN 1745-8706
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 2
Pages 209-231
Public URL


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