Early Serfdom in England

  • R. H. Hilton
Part of the Studies in Economic History book series


ALTHOUGH there are special features to the agrarian development of medieval England, it should not be imagined that the country was exempt from the general conditions which affected the rest of medieval Europe, especially those parts nearest to it. After all, in common with the whole of western Europe, England had been a province of the Roman Empire and had become a successor state governed by a Germanic aristocracy, with the difference no doubt that the Germanic settlement was denser in England than, for instance, in Gaul. During the Dark Ages there had been abundant contact between the English ruling aristocracies and those of continental Europe, abundant contact between the English Church and Rome, and a volume of trade which had made the fortune of such northern Frankish ports as Quentovic. The almost complete replacement of the Old English by a Norman-French aristocracy (with Flemish and Breton supporters) by the time that ‘Domesday Book’ was compiled naturally strengthened similarities of social structure, especially since for over a century many English landowners possessed estates in Normandy, and even after the loss of Normandy had direct political contacts with the Continent through Gascony.


Thirteenth Century Fourteenth Century Twelfth Century Eleventh Century Estate Owner 
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Copyright information

© The Economic History Society 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. H. Hilton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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