The_Horizons_of_the_City._Rural_mobility (1)

The_Horizons_of_the_City._Rural_mobility (1) - AND FERRAN...

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ANTONI FURIO ´ AND FERRAN GARCIA-OLIVER THE HORIZONS OF THE CITY RURAL MOBILITY IN A FRONTIER LAND (THE VALENCIAN COUNTRY, 1250-1350) For a long time mediaeval demography, at least for the rural world, was the victim of the illusion of the immobile society. A series of collective patterns and constrictions, fears of the unknown, economic constraints, precariousness of means of transport and movement and, above all, feudal coercions, kept people tied to one place from the moment they were born. Houses, land, goods, family and neighbourly relations, and even the church pew and the graveyard plot, were handed down from father to son, generation after generation. It was the unchanging world, suspended in time, so dear to the historians of the long duration. This resistance to change governed social values and was reflected in the widespread absence of movement. Not only did everyone have to stay in the ordo to which he or she belonged, but also in the same place as always : social ties and attachment to the land acted together against dual mobility, geographical and social. Nor would there be any rivalries whilst men and women remained in the part of the world that was their lot. For this reason, movements – exceptional ones – were considered as part of a scheme and rules agreed by consensus, backed up by tradition and even regulated by law. Religious pilgrimages were an opportunity to go away, but the pilgrim was asked to return so that the community might also partake of the spiritual benefits achieved. Warriors from their expeditions, the crusaders from the Holy Land and merchants from their voyages also returned. Nothing aroused as much suspicion as the anonymous traveller, without family references or known employment. Those who moved around from one place to another, those who today slept in the hostel, tomorrow on the straw mattress of a brothel and the day after in the hospital, were the vagrants, the highway prostitutes, criminals and people referred to as vagarosa (idle), a term that at times appears in classic Catalan stories; and also the Jew, the homo viator par excellence. The masses only seemed to get moving when new
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514 ANTONI FURIÓ AND FERRAN GARCIA-OLIVER 1 J. Plesner, L’emigrazione dalla campagna alla città libera di Firenze nel XIII secolo , Florence, 1979, originally, Copenhagen, 1934. As Rinaldo Comba pointed out at the time, Plesner’s work provoked an important debate among historians on the mobility of the mediaeval Italian population (especially, G. Luzzatto, L’inurbamento delle popolazioni rurali in Italia nei secoli XII e XIII, in Studi di storia e diritto in onore di Enrico Besta , Milan, 1939), with the implicit merit of applying the intensive prosopographic method of investigation to the peasant sectors. But the debate rapidly died out and not until thirty years later were the analyses on the rates and the kinds of migratory movements resumed, particularly those of the city. Cf. R. Comba, Emigrare nel Medioevo. Aspetti economico-sociali della mobilità geografica nei secoli XI-XVI , in R. Comba, G. Piccinni e G. Pinto (ed.),
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