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Rye, eggs, pigs—and cash: Scheyern Abbey and its tenants in the fourteenth century

Rye, eggs, pigs—and cash: Scheyern Abbey and its tenants in the fourteenth century
59 Queens Park Cr. E., Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, Room A
Time: Mar 18th, 3:00 pm End: Mar 18th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Medieval Studies (FAS), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), German (FAS), 1200-1500
LMS research seminar by Shami Ghosh, Mellon Fellow and LMS candidate

The Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies is pleased to present an Interdisciplinary Research Seminar

Dr. Shami Ghosh, Mellon Fellow and LMS Candidate

Rye, Eggs, Pigs -- and Cash: Scheyern Abbey and its tenants in the fourteenth century

In my LMS first seminar last semester, I presented an overview of the broader historical and intellectual context within which my current project is set, and posed the bigger questions, to the answers of which my research hopes to contribute: how and why and when did medieval rural society become increasingly commercialised and market-dependent? what were the consequences of this shift? and to what extent was it confined to England (as much earlier scholarship has taken for granted), or, rather (as my preliminary soundings of the material suggest), to be found equally in Germany? Furthermore, to the extent that Germany underwent a similar process of commercialisation as England, how accurate is it to link either the ‘decline of serfdom’, or an earlier resurgence of direct management by landlords of their manors—both evident in England but less so in Germany—with processes of commercialisation, and the more long-term consequences of these processes?

These questions can only be answered on the basis of rigorous, comparative empirical research; and my suggestions regarding the similarities between Germany and England notwithstanding, there has as yet been insufficient such research to make a really strong argument beyond just tentative hypotheses. The first question to be answered is the extent of market involvement and commercialisation in rural Germany in the thirteenth century, and the extent of change over the course of the next two centuries; since ‘Germany’ was very large, this is a problem that can only be approached from a regional perspective, yet the region needs to be large enough to be able to allow for some generalisation and comparison with similar, better-studied regions in England.

My current project, of which my LMS thesis is a part, is an examination of processes of commercialisation in rural Bavaria c.1200–c.1500. In my second seminar, I shall first present an overview of this project and its scope, and the potential for further research beyond my own provided by my sources. I shall then focus on the source used for my LMS thesis, the fourteenth-century accounts of the Benedictine abbey of Scheyern. These accounts present the renders owed and actually conveyed to the abbey by around 600 individual tenants in nine years in the period 1339–63, as well as a record of the abbey’s expenditures, and some evidence of the nature of feudal relations between the abbey and its tenants. I shall present a preliminary analysis of three years’ accounts with regard to the extent to which the local economy had already become monetised, the relative importance of different kinds of renders, the evidence of a ‘crisis’ by 1349—and also the problems involved in trying to use such a source to answer the questions I seek to address.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at (416) 926-7142.

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