Session Title

Busy Tenants? Land Transfer and Commercialization: Late Medieval England and Austria in a Comparative Perspective

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Johannes Kaska

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. Wien

Presider Name

Richard C. Hoffmann

Presider Affiliation

York Univ.

Paper Title 1

City Dwellers as Landlords: Land Transactions in and around Bozen (South-Tyrol) in the Mid-Thirteenth Century

Presenter 1 Name

Thomas Ertl

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. Wien

Paper Title 2

Cash, Claims, and Chicken: Land Transactions in the Estates of the Lambach and Sankt Lambrecht Monasteries (Austria), ca. 1400-1550

Presenter 2 Name

Johannes Kaska, Birgit Heinzle

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. Wien, Univ. Wien

Paper Title 3

Social Ambition or Conservatism? The Motivations for Leasing Demesne Land in Late Medieval England

Presenter 3 Name

Alex Brown

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham Univ.

Paper Title 4

Discussant

Presenter 4 Name

Richard C. Hoffmann

Start Date

12-5-2016 7:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 2020

Description

In the past decades, studies have argued that important long-term roots of early modern economic development in Europe can be found in the late medieval growth of market integration and commercialization. (Britnell 1996; Epstein 2000; van Bavel/van Zanden 2004) More recently, research on different areas of Europe in a comparative perspective (Ghosh, in print; Kitsikopoulos 2011) and on selected Central European regions (Cerman 2004; Kiessling 2011) emphasizes that the degree of commercialization reached in late medieval Central Europe may previously have been underestimated. A research group at the University of Vienna currently connects to this debate and investigates late medieval commercialization processes by means of a closer analysis of land markets – an approach previously used successfully for Western and Southern Europe. (e. g. Cavaciocchi 2004; Feller/Wickham 2005; Bourin et al. 2014). The session includes three papers presented by Alex Brown (Durham), Birgit Heinzle/Johannes Kaska (Vienna) and Thomas Ertl (Vienna). Session discussant will be Richard C. Hoffmann (York, Canada).

These papers deal with new empirical studies on the transfer of land among Austrian tenants connected with a more general assessment of commercialization processes and an exploration of the motivations behind land acquisition in England. In the Austrian cases, hereditary tenure allowed tenants to adapt land transactions to their economic needs. The paper on tenants of the Benedictine monasteries of Lambach (Upper Austria) and St. Lambrecht (Styria) will investigate and compare the predominance of two distinct patterns. Whereas in St. Lambrecht properties were hardly ever subdivided and mostly transferred within the family, division of property and selling outside the family was common in Lambach. Inhabitants of towns and cities took part in this land market, too, and will be analyzed in a second paper. As documents from Bolzano/Bozen (South Tyrol) notaries illustrate, town citizens and peasants were heavily engaged in using the land market as a source for capital or investment. In the examples analyzed, the security of property rights and the transfers of land generally contributed to increasing monetization. Even in the case of St. Lambrecht, in which a majority of transactions among kin can be observed, debts between siblings or the payments of inheritance parts were settled predominantly by monetary transactions. Therefore, more family-controlled transactions in land did not prevent commercialization in a broader sense. The final paper highlights the need to explore the motivations behind land accumulation amongst the tenantry of late-medieval Europe further, showing that it cannot be taken for granted that they were always motivated by social ambition. Using the withdrawal from direct demesne agriculture by landowners in medieval England, this theory-based paper explores the complex situation which led tenants into acquiring farms perhaps ten-times the size of a traditional holding. Comparing the results and setting them into a broader context, commercialization thus appears as a multi-facetted phenomenon. While some tenants clearly took the opportunities secure tenures or increasing monetization provided, for others the motivation for land transfers and land market transactions cannot be found in commercial factors alone.

Johannes Kaska

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May 12th, 7:30 PM

Busy Tenants? Land Transfer and Commercialization: Late Medieval England and Austria in a Comparative Perspective

Fetzer 2020

In the past decades, studies have argued that important long-term roots of early modern economic development in Europe can be found in the late medieval growth of market integration and commercialization. (Britnell 1996; Epstein 2000; van Bavel/van Zanden 2004) More recently, research on different areas of Europe in a comparative perspective (Ghosh, in print; Kitsikopoulos 2011) and on selected Central European regions (Cerman 2004; Kiessling 2011) emphasizes that the degree of commercialization reached in late medieval Central Europe may previously have been underestimated. A research group at the University of Vienna currently connects to this debate and investigates late medieval commercialization processes by means of a closer analysis of land markets – an approach previously used successfully for Western and Southern Europe. (e. g. Cavaciocchi 2004; Feller/Wickham 2005; Bourin et al. 2014). The session includes three papers presented by Alex Brown (Durham), Birgit Heinzle/Johannes Kaska (Vienna) and Thomas Ertl (Vienna). Session discussant will be Richard C. Hoffmann (York, Canada).

These papers deal with new empirical studies on the transfer of land among Austrian tenants connected with a more general assessment of commercialization processes and an exploration of the motivations behind land acquisition in England. In the Austrian cases, hereditary tenure allowed tenants to adapt land transactions to their economic needs. The paper on tenants of the Benedictine monasteries of Lambach (Upper Austria) and St. Lambrecht (Styria) will investigate and compare the predominance of two distinct patterns. Whereas in St. Lambrecht properties were hardly ever subdivided and mostly transferred within the family, division of property and selling outside the family was common in Lambach. Inhabitants of towns and cities took part in this land market, too, and will be analyzed in a second paper. As documents from Bolzano/Bozen (South Tyrol) notaries illustrate, town citizens and peasants were heavily engaged in using the land market as a source for capital or investment. In the examples analyzed, the security of property rights and the transfers of land generally contributed to increasing monetization. Even in the case of St. Lambrecht, in which a majority of transactions among kin can be observed, debts between siblings or the payments of inheritance parts were settled predominantly by monetary transactions. Therefore, more family-controlled transactions in land did not prevent commercialization in a broader sense. The final paper highlights the need to explore the motivations behind land accumulation amongst the tenantry of late-medieval Europe further, showing that it cannot be taken for granted that they were always motivated by social ambition. Using the withdrawal from direct demesne agriculture by landowners in medieval England, this theory-based paper explores the complex situation which led tenants into acquiring farms perhaps ten-times the size of a traditional holding. Comparing the results and setting them into a broader context, commercialization thus appears as a multi-facetted phenomenon. While some tenants clearly took the opportunities secure tenures or increasing monetization provided, for others the motivation for land transfers and land market transactions cannot be found in commercial factors alone.

Johannes Kaska