Economic Structure 9/18/2012 6:06:00 PM
Basic economic structure of Europe—agriculture was the main way in the
middle ages, it was a source of wealth, and the ownership of land was a
source of status as well.
The collapse of roman system results in far few population. So, there is
no need to experiment diff kinds of crops, lands are abandoned,
agriculture was continued in a very primitive way.
Technology started to change things: the classical one field system was
placed by 3 field system. People were healthier. Also, people found to put
lime on the land, it was good. The old Mediterranean plow didn’t work in
the northern Europe, change—a metal plow was more efficient. The
problem was that it was very heavy for a horse, the result was that a
heavy wheel plow was invented. Also, a horse collar was invented for
horses to pull the heavy wheel plow. Horses were expensive however, so
ox were still the main animals for farming.
Eat meat was sign of status for landlords. Peasants who actually live the
land lived differently, they lived in villages. The villages were the central
structure of medieval agriculture-called a manor. A manor included 4-5
houses of landlords, if the landlord have several manors, there was
someone in diff manors to take change of the manors.
Then there was a village of peasants. They were either free (could come
and go), or they were part of the manor (they were bound to the soil,
they were a part of the manor, like properties.)
The manor was supposed to be able to support exactly 1 knight, it should
not be so large so that peasants could walk home after a day.
Manors fallow certain principles:
Even if a landlord could have 100 manors, each one manor was a
separate unit, and governed by diff systems. All that matters to the
people living in one manor was the tradition of that one manor. So,
everything became localized and dependent.
Money was extremely scarce. With the collapse of Roman Empire, there
was no one make it. Powerful people were rich in lands, not in cash. Land
was useless unless you have someone to work on it. Without peasants,
lands were useless.
The producer of a manor were traded with other products around the
manor—it was a barter system.
How did this economy work without money for centuries? Peasants work on the land had to give to the landlord crops in return for
living, the other parts of the manor had to –agriculture was cooperative,
you don’t just work on your own, but work together and get your share of
food based on your lands–this system worked well because everyone had
enough to eat and food to sustain and reproduce themselves.
It was not slavery, but cooperative. Numbers were small, there was not a
surplus of labor market. The population was small, so you basically stay
where you were born. Your views were local, you only contacts were
basically families from other manors. And the life was not so bad.
Because you were protected—food, security, (landlord protect you
because you were his tools to make food), and you were part of a
community. –put into historical context
No peasants had all the peasant lands in one land, they were distributed
by narrow stripe—to make sure that no one family got all good or bad
lands. And with the invention of heavy wheel plows, you need the
cooperative system because there is no one peasant family could afford
all the tools and animals for farming. Share of responsibilities and share
poor soil but important. In common lands that you we