Medieval Suffolk 1349 to 1500: An Economic and Social History
with Dr Mark Bailey
at Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo (map)
|10.00||Coffee on arrival|
|10.15||The Black Death.
The day school begins by surveying briefly the society and economy of Suffolk in the early fourteenth century, and then documenting the local progress and immediate impact of one of the most devastating event in recorded history, the Black Death of 1349. What was it, how it did it spread, and what implications did it have for the population of Suffolk?
|11.30||Settlement and Farming, 1360 to 1500.
The changes to rural life in the wake of the Black Death were significant and profound, presenting both real difficulties and new opportunities. Settlement shifted and contracted, and much arable land was abandoned, but the structure of farms changed markedly, new crops were developed, arable land was enclosed and converted to pasture, and the emphasis in agriculture shifted towards dairying and pig rearing.
|14:00||Social Change, 1360 to 1500.
The Black Death shock society to its roots, and to contemporaries it appeared that the world had been turned upside down. Violent protest and revolt in the Uprising of 1381 reflected deep tensions within Suffolk society, and over the next century the social structure of Suffolk communities changed importantly: many became dominated by resident gentleman farmers and yeoman, whose agricultural activities became discernibly commercialised, while smallholders were able to obtain plentiful work in by-employments. The result was an improvement in material well-being, and a rising culture of consumerism, but a polarisation of wealth.
|15:15||Industrial and Economic Transformation, 1360 to 1500.
In c.1300 the Suffolk economy was moderately urbanised and industrialised: by c.1500 it lay at the forefront of industrial production in medieval England, based primarily on textile manufacture, fishing and leather working. The wealth generated by such activities is reflected in the extensive rebuilding of parish churches, and in the quality of surviving vernacular architecture, during this period. This final session documents those changes, and tries to understand how Suffolk people responded so flexibly and triumphantly to the economic changes and opportunities of the post Black Death era.
Dr Mark Bailey went to school in Suffolk, but now runs a school in Leeds. He lectured in both medieval and local history at the University of Cambridge between 1986 and 1999, and has published five books and numerous articles on the subject. His latest book, Medieval Suffolk. An Economic and Social History, 1200-1500, provides the basis for this day school, and its publication launches the much-anticipated History of Suffolk series.
Bailey, M., Medieval Suffolk: An Economic and Social History, 1200-1500 (Woodbridge 2007)
Dymond, D.P., and Northeast, P., A History of Suffolk, (Chichester, 1995)
Dyer, C.C., Making a Living in the Middle Ages. The People of Britain 850-1520 (London, 2002)
Please phone or email to check the availability of places and then send the application form and a cheque for £38, payable to Wuffing Education to:
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
(tel : 01394 386498)