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Lecture 43, Part 1 – The Tudor Economy

Course Code
HIS 2405E
Barbara Murison

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Lecture 43, Part 1 The Tudor Economy
I) Dimensions of the Problem
Demographics key to the problem
o Population of England and Wales was around 5 million before the
Black Death
o Stabilized around 2 million, and slowly grows
o Tudors lucky because they took power as everything was improving
o Mid-16th century population about 3 million
Mid-Tudor observers talked about depopulation
Only one hiccup during the population growth during the
Tudor period the flu epidemic during the reign of Mary
End of Elizabeth’s reign in1603: population around 4-5 million
o France of the same period had a population of about 15 million
o Cannot ignore plague cycle that starts in the 15th century; bubonic
plague outbreaks still occur
Also pneumonia, small pox
No type of vaccine whatsoever for disease
o Low fertility rates and late age of marriage became an issue
Delayed marriage to mid-late twenties; cut down on birth rate
Large number of people never married at all
Caused population stagnation plus disease
More marriages and drop in age of marriage when clerics are
allowed to marry again
o Life expectancy estimated to between 38-40
Aristocrats could reach much higher ages
Many died in infancy
o By the late medieval-early modern period the population is growing
fast enough to stimulate the economy
Increased population stimulates demand
Thomas Malthus Malthusian theory: point where the
resources cannot support the population and famine results
Tudor England manages to feed itself, major success; not true
for Scotland
England’s Agrarian Society
o In the highland zone, there is not much crop production (Lancaster,
Yorkshire, Northumberland, Wales)
o In the lowland zone, mixed farming dominated (pasture for animals
arable for crops)
Great grain growing places
Also larger workforce available
Common field system of mixed farming was common
o Enclosure
Consolidation of landholding, meant the end of the strip system
and common fields
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