By G. E. Mingay
Lines the increase and fall of rural England from the center a while to the second one international warfare and the character of the alterations that have happened.
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Extra resources for A Social History of the English Countryside
While the lay nobility declined relative to the Crown and the gentry, the Reformation gave the Crown mastery also over the great lords of the church. The lands of the bishops and monasteries covered perhaps a sixth or a seventh, or even more, of the country, and in 1536 and the years that followed the monasteries were dissolved and ownership of their properties assumed by the Crown. The Crown, however, did not long retain them: sales and grants began immediately, and by 1558 threequarters had gone.
Only a small number of landowners were sufficiently wealthy to build and maintain a really substantial mansion, much less a great stone castle. It has to be remembered that most local lords were possessed of only modest estates. 24 Medieval manor houses, therefore, began as modest affairs, and were rebuilt and extended if and when their owners improved in means and status. They were sometimes fortified with a moat and drawbridge, or with a wall and watchtower, and the house was surrounded by orchards, gardens and perhaps dovecotes, fishponds and a deer park.
27 A SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE The lord’s earlier dependence on labour services sprang from a situation where land was plentiful but workers were scarce. As the population grew, so the managers of demesne lands found it easier and more efficient to employ surplus village labour than to extract unwilling labour services, the hired workers being paid for from the cash rents collected from the villeins. After the Black Death, however, the situation reverted to that of the early middle ages, with land again plentiful and labour once more relatively scarce.
A Social History of the English Countryside by G. E. Mingay