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Waifs and strays: property rights in late medieval England

Claridge, Jordan and Gibbs, Spike (2020) Waifs and strays: property rights in late medieval England. Economic History Working Papers (313). LSE London, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

This article seeks to provide new insights into long-standing debates on lord-tenant relations and how they were negotiated through the manorial court in medieval England. This is accomplished through a study of the "stray system": an institution within which lords and tenants cooperated to manage stray livestock. Specifically, the article argues that the stray system is a clear example of the "public good." In a world where most of the population was reliant on an unproductive agriculture, subject to the vagaries of the enivronment, to provide a basic livelihood, any potential damage to a crop would have been a very real concern. However, in managing the threat of wandering livestock, the property rights of owners had to be clearly protected to avoid violent disputes stemming from accusations of theft and conflict over ownership. The manorial court's management of strays provided an institution to resolve these countervailing pressures. Ultimately, it protected a community's arable land - the most vital source of income for lords and tenants alike - whilst simultaneously assuring the property rights of those who had lost important capital assets in the form of livestock.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: https://www.lse.ac.uk/Economic-History/Working-Pap...
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
K Law > KD England and Wales
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N0 - General > N00 - General
N - Economic History > N0 - General > N01 - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
N - Economic History > N5 - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries > N53 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N43 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N73 - Europe: Pre-1913
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development > O13 - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O3 - Technological Change; Research and Development > O31 - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
P - Economic Systems > P1 - Capitalist Systems > P11 - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
P - Economic Systems > P1 - Capitalist Systems > P14 - Property Rights
P - Economic Systems > P1 - Capitalist Systems > P16 - Political Economy
P - Economic Systems > P2 - Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies > P20 - General
P - Economic Systems > P2 - Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies > P21 - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q0 - General > Q00 - General
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q1 - Agriculture > Q15 - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2020 14:54
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2020 00:39
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/107440

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