A Marginal Economy? East Anglian Breckland in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought Fourth Series, Book 12)

November 1, 2020
A Marginal Economy? East Anglian Breckland in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought Fourth Series, Book 12)

A theory of the margin has long featured in the work of medievalhistorians. Marginal regions are taken to be those of poor soil orgeographical remoteness, where farmers experienced particulardifficulties in grain production. It is argued that such regionswere cultivated only when demographic pressure intensified in thethirteenth century, but that a combination of soil exhaustion anddemographic decline resulted in severe economic contraction by theend of the fourteenth century. Marginal regions are seen not justas sensitive barometers of economic change but as importantcatalysts in that change. Despite the importance placed byhistorians on the general theory of the margin, this bookrepresents the first detailed study of a 'marginal region'. Itfocuses upon East Anglian Breckland, whose blowing sands are amongthe most barren soils in lowland England. Drawing upon a wide rangeof sources, this study reconstructs Breckland's late medievaleconomy, and shows it to be more diversified and resilient than thestereotype depicted in marginal theory.