A Country Merchant, 1495-1520: Trading and Farming at the End of the Middle Ages

Paperback | May 17, 2014

byChristopher Dyer

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Around 1500 England's society and economy had reached a turning point. After a long period of slow change and even stagnation, an age of innovation and initiative was in motion, with enclosure, voyages of discovery, and new technologies. It was an age of fierce controversy, in which thegovernment was fearful of beggars and wary of rebellions. The "commonwealth" writers such as Thomas More were sharply critical of the greed of profit hungry landlords who dispossessed the poor. This book is about a wool merchant and large scale farmer who epitomises in many ways the spirit of theperiod. John Heritage kept an account book, from which we can reconstruct a whole society in the vicinity of Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. He took part in the removal of a village which stood in the way of agricultural "improvement", ran a large scale sheep farm, and as a "woolman" spent much timetravelling around the countryside meeting with gentry, farmers, and peasants in order to buy their wool. He sold the fleeces he produced and those he gathered to London merchants who exported through Calais to the textile towns of Flanders. The wool growers named in the book can be studied in theirnative villages, and their lives can be reconstructed in the round, interacting in their communities, adapting their farming to new circumstances, and arranging the building of their local churches.A Country Merchant has some of the characteristics of a biography, is part family history, and part local history, with some landscape history. Dyer explores themes in economic and social history without neglecting the religious and cultural background. His central concerns are to demonstrate theimportance of commerce in the period, and to show the contribution of peasants to a changing economy.

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Around 1500 England's society and economy had reached a turning point. After a long period of slow change and even stagnation, an age of innovation and initiative was in motion, with enclosure, voyages of discovery, and new technologies. It was an age of fierce controversy, in which thegovernment was fearful of beggars and wary of rebe...

Christopher Dyer has held posts at the Universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Leicester. He has written five books, and has been joint author or editor of six others. He has published numerous articles and essays in many journals and edited volumes. His central interest is in the economic and social history of medieval England, an...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:May 17, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198715986

ISBN - 13:9780198715986

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Living in 1495-15202. Family and household: John Heritage and his Contemporaries3. John Heritage's Country4. John Heritage's Wool Business5. Pasture, Sheep, Wool, and People6. Beyond the Account Book: Changing the Countryside7. Individuals and Communities8. ConclusionAppendix 1: Sample pages from the account bookAppendix 2: Tables of gathered wool, Heritage's own wool, and wool pricesAppendix 3: Deserted VillagesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This excellent book combines local and family history with landscape studies to provide a detailed and convincing account ... an outstanding and readable book that brings general concepts to life with its concentration on the reality of human experience in a distinctive Midlands landscape." --David Hey, Landscape History