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Medieval settlement and society in the eastern Sussex Weald before 1420

Gardiner, Mark Francis; (1995) Medieval settlement and society in the eastern Sussex Weald before 1420. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London (United Kingdom). Green open access

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The High Weald in south-east England forms a pays with a distinctive landscape and settlement history. By far the greater part of that region lies within eastern Sussex, where it comprises a broad tract of wooded countryside with poor soils. The area was exploited during the Anglo-Saxon period by manors on the coastal fringe, which estabhshed outlying settlements in the woodland. The land within the valleys of the Weald was divided up at an early date into large areas, but the exposed ridges were avoided by the settlers and largely remained common land throughout the medieval period. The early usage established the pattern for later medieval settlement, land-holding and lordship. Most settlement was dispersed and villages did not develop in the area until the 13th century when they emerged as centres for trade and craft-work. Land was held in large free tenements or customary virgates, probably based upon the areas into which the land had been divided in the Anglo-Saxon period. Seigneurial control was generally weak for the scattered lands of many manors made regulation difficult. Villeins were not burdened with onerous work services. During the 13th century the custom of partible inheritance was replaced by ultimogeniture. The practice of partibihty persisted on some manors, particular those near the Kent border, where it was found even among free tenants. Various means were devised in the later 14th century to avoid customary laws of inheritance. Peasants established close bonds with their near neighbours to whom they were often related. A study of manors in the Wartling area suggests that they often married neighbours, sold land, and lent money and goods to them. Most peasants before 1350 were smallholders, but plague in the later 14th century reduced the level of population and enabled tenants to enlarge their lands by amalgamating holdings. An active landmarket enabled tenants to build up larger consolidated tenements replacing the earlier pattern of smallholdings often comprising only a field or two.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: Medieval settlement and society in the eastern Sussex Weald before 1420
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: (UMI)AAI10017482; Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103030
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