4B - 1.07.2009 History 4B Lecture 2: Rural Society I....

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1.07.2009 History 4B Lecture 2: Rural Society I. Images of the High Middle Ages a. Famous castles. Chateau Gaillard, France. Built by Richard I of England between 1105-1199. b. Images of knights on horseback. Coronations. Christian knights battling pagans. 1120. 1225. 1226. c. Many cathedrals. Mont-Saint Michel, Benedictine Abbey, 11 th C. Salisbury Cathedral 1220. d. Monks and Pope: monk drinking, monk writing; Pope Innocent III e. Images of peasants. i. Made up 80-90% of the population during High Medieval Europe. It was largely a rural society. II. Working the Land a. Medieval Rural Society points to remember i. Medieval life was agricultural ii. Rural life was not static 1. There were a lot of changes. Work methods changed, having important effects; on trade, boundaries, population. iii. Importance of networks of relationships 1. Hierarchical a. Involved dominance and subservience
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2. Subject to custom a. Contracts not recorded. It was implied actions, developed over time. 3. Varied with individual people and groups a. Not clear cut, not a neat system. All different kinds of cases, different situations. b. Innovations and Results i. Heavy plow 1. Survival was dependent on harvest, drought causes death and starvation. 2. Farmers started to used heavy plow, it is pulled by oxen (rather than pushed by person). Can dig deeper into soil, helped productivity, seeds go further down. Major innovation; allowed for more intensive cultivation. ii. Fallowing and 3-crop rotation 1. Leaving field fallow, leaving a field empty for a season. If kept planting same field same crop over and over again, every time the harvest would get worse, because soil depleted. Used a rotating system to improve the soil. Then used 3-crop; what do in one season is plant grain, leave empty for one season, then use a different crop to put nutrients back into the soil. iii. Population growth 1. Peasants not only fed themselves, but also allowed for population growth, could feed more. England: in middle of 11 th C, estimated 1.3 million people, by middle of 14 th C, 3.9 million people. Land became scarce because there were more people; so people left land, went to nearest town, push into other areas of Europe; there was a big migration east. But, life wasn’t easy. An entire family usually lived in a single room hut. There was
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only an overall population growth trend, but many were still poor. Why else is there population growth? iv. Child mortality 1. It was extremely high. Families were having more children, that’s what caused the growth. The average peasant family had 6 children; they needed that many to work on the field and because many were expected to die young. Diseases killed children regularly. Historians figure out how many, proportion of children death by looking at archaeology, child graves; medieval cemeteries. They excavate some. They found that 20% of skeletons belonged to children under 5. Children in general were 43% of the graves (age 14 and under). III. Peasants between Servitude and Freedom
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2009 for the course HIST 4B taught by Professor Sonnino during the Winter '08 term at UCSB.

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4B - 1.07.2009 History 4B Lecture 2: Rural Society I....

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