If the landlord so wanted… Family, farm production and land transfers in the manorial system

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Abstract

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The manorial system was a salient feature of the pre-industrial economy in Europe from the early middle ages until the late nineteenth century. Despite its importance, it is not usually the main focus of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European economic history. Looking at a vital manorial economy, this article deals with land transmissions, a crucial factor in the socioeconomic reproduction of pre-industrial societies, and demonstrates both similarities and important differences between the tenants on manorial land and freeholders. Although their strategies were often similar, we show that the manorial system consisted of a two-party government-the landlord and the tenant-whose interests did not always coincide. In the nineteenth century, market expansion and commercialization promoted more active landlord strategies in terms of demesne expansions and by means of implementing short-term leases. This made intergenerational transfers within the family increasingly difficult for tenants.

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  • Economic History
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-769
JournalEconomic History Review
Volume65
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes