The Medieval English Landscape, 1000-1540

The Medieval English Landscape, 1000-1540

Graeme J. White

Language: English

Pages: 349

ISBN: 1441135251

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The landscape of medieval England was the product of a multitude of hands. While the power to shape the landscape inevitably lay with the Crown, the nobility and the religious houses, this study also highlights the contribution of the peasantry in the layout of rural settlements and ridge-and-furrow field works, and the funding of parish churches by ordinary townsfolk. The importance of population trends is emphasised as a major factor in shaping the medieval landscape: the rising curve of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries imposing growing pressures on resources, and the devastating impact of the Black Death leading to radical decline in the fourteenth century. Opening with a broad-ranging analysis of political and economic trends in medieval England, the book progresses thematically to assess the impact of farming, rural settlement, towns, the Church, and fortification using many original case studies. The concluding chapter charts the end of the medieval landscape with the dissolution of the monasteries, the replacement of castles by country houses, the ongoing enclosure of fields, and the growth of towns.

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Fergusson, Coppack and Harrison (2006). 19Knowles and Hadcock (1971), 133–6; Coppack and Aston (2002). 20Blair (2005), 361. 21Burton (1994), 45–56; Dickinson (1950), 98–108. 22Fernie (2002), 188; Pevsner and Hyde (2010), 222–6. 23Greene (1989), esp. 1–22, 73–157. 24Knowles and Hadcock (1971), 137–82, 489–90. 25Pevsner and Neave (2002), 342–6; Rogan (2000), 15–51; Clifton-Taylor (1986), 271–3. 26EHD, III, 651–2. 27Greene (1992), 28–9; Knowles and Hadcock (1971), 183–93; Platt (1984), 60,

he … must all the more suffer a money penalty proportionate to his means.82 It is this which seems to lie behind occasional references to ‘wasted wood’ (silva vastata) in the Essex folios of Domesday Book and to the sums levied from those who had caused ‘waste forest’ – damage to woods within the king’s forest – by Henry II’s exchequer.83 All these entries do, however, cover different types of woodland reflecting diverse management practices, and in places these distinctions are still

eighteenth centuries. By then, however, there had been a fundamental change in house-type elsewhere, in the direction of dwellings which were not only intended solely for human habitation but were almost entirely two-storey: a sixteenth- and seventeenth-century ‘Great Rebuilding’, involving the roofing of the hall and the insertion of fireplaces, which made the medieval plan redundant and evidence of its former existence correspondingly hard to find.79 Late medieval adjustment The story of

developing linear trading extensions to earlier burhs, as happened, for instance, at York (where the ‘Jorvik’ excavations have revealed the growth of a major trading settlement south east of the earlier centre), at Lincoln (where Wigford arose as a trading area across the river to the south of the fortified area), at Cambridge (where settlement was also extended south from an earlier burh across the river), and at Huntingdon, which seems to have been developed as the river-port for its

in the English landscape? There were Dominican (‘Black’) friars in England by 1221, Franciscans (‘Grey Friars’) by 1224, Carmelites (‘White Friars’) by 1242, Austin friars by 1249. Given their reliance upon alms to support their life as mendicant (begging) preachers, one might expect to find them predominantly in centres of population, and numbers of friars’ houses established is indeed a rough and ready guide to the relative size of medieval towns. All four orders mentioned above – the only four

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