Peasant proprietors, social mobility and risk aversion in the early Middle Ages: an Iberian case-study

Portass, Robert (2023) Peasant proprietors, social mobility and risk aversion in the early Middle Ages: an Iberian case-study. Social History . ISSN 0307-1022

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Peasant proprietors, social mobility and risk aversion in the early Middle Ages: an Iberian case-study
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Abstract

This article investigates how and why certain early medieval Iberian peasants rose within their communities, mostly by means of buying land from co-villagers, to attain superior wealth and status than most of their peers. It examines why such courses of action were pursued by modest rural cultivators, given that theirs was a scarcely monetized society in which they could not expect to be paid in coin and, consequently, see their options as consumers increase as a result of their actions. In short, it asks what peasants stood to gain from operating in the land market and explores how their actions shaped the dynamics of the wider peasant community. The provisional conclusions it reaches oblige us to revisit and review certain shibboleths of the secondary literature concerning early medieval peasantries, which continue to be portrayed as risk-averse as a matter of course, unwilling to generate surplus unless at the behest of lords, and given to the equitable distribution of resources within the village. The northern Iberian case-studies analysed here suggest that by the tenth century the peasantry was already more internally stratified, unequal and economically variegated than hitherto understood – and that this had little to do with exogenous lordly pressure.

Keywords:Peasant studies, Economic history, Economic theory, Market risk
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V224 Iberian History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V320 Social History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V310 Economic History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:48384
Deposited On:22 Mar 2022 16:24

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