We like to forget that agriculture is one of the core human activities. In historic societies most people lived in the countryside: a high, if falling proportion of the population were engaged in the production and processing of foodstuffs. The possession of land was a key form of wealth: it brought not only income from tenants but prestige, access to a rural lifestyle and often political power. Nor could government ever be disinterested in the countryside, whether to maintain urban food supply, as a source of taxation, or to maintain social peace. Increasingly it managed every aspect of the countryside. Agriculture itself and the social relations within the countryside were in constant flux as farmers reacted to new or changing opportunities, and landlords sought to maintain or increase their incomes. Moreover, urban attitudes to - and representation of - the landscape and its inhabitants were constantly shifting.
These questions of competition and change, production, power and perception are the primary themes of the series. It looks at change and competition in the countryside: social relations within it and between urban and rural societies. The series offers a forum for the publication of the best work on all of these issues, straddling the economic, social and cultural, concentrating on the rural history of Britain and Ireland, Europe and its colonial empires, and North America over the past millennium.
Inclusive Commons and the Sustainability of Peasant Communities in the Medieval Low Countries
Rockites, Magistrates and Parliamentarians Governance and Disturbances in Pre-Famine Rural Munster
By Maïka De Keyzer
April 20, 2018
Is inclusiveness in the commons and sustainability a paradox? Late medieval and Early Modern rural societies encountered challenges because of growing population pressure, urbanisation and commercialisation. While some regions went along this path and commercialised and intensified production, ...
By Shunsuke Katsuta
August 25, 2017
Early nineteenth-century Ireland witnessed widespread and prolonged rural unrest, as groups of labourers and smallholders formed secret societies demanding land reform, fair rents, the protection of wages and an end to tithes. One of the most active of these groups - the Rockites - waged a vigorous...
By Paul Brassley, Jeremy Burchardt, Karen Sayer
November 29, 2016
It is now almost impossible to conceive of life in western Europe, either in the towns or the countryside, without a reliable mains electricity supply. By 1938, two-thirds of rural dwellings had been connected to a centrally generated supply, but the majority of farms in Britain were not linked to ...
By Carin Martiin, Juan Pan-Montojo, Paul Brassley
June 28, 2016
In the years before the Second World War agriculture in most European states was carried out on peasant or small family farms using technologies that relied mainly on organic inputs and local knowledge and skills, supplying products into a market that was partly local or national, partly ...
By Federico D'Onofrio
June 02, 2016
Agricultural Economists in Early Twentieth-Century Italy describes how Italian agricultural economists collected information about the economy of Italy, between the Giolittian and the Fascist era. The book carefully describes three main forms of economic observation: enquiries, statistics, and farm...
By Daniel R. Curtis
August 29, 2014
Why in the pre-industrial period were some settlements resilient and stable over the long term while other settlements were vulnerable to crisis? Indeed, what made certain human habitations more prone to decline or even total collapse, than others? All pre-industrial societies had to face certain ...