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Land And Labour

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Chapter Summary

Peasant servitude lasted only briefly as a generalized phenomenon in Provence. This chapter brings economic criteria to bear on the question of the apparent revival of servile labour in late medieval Provence. It takes a quantitative look at adaptations in Italian sharecropping contracts over a period of seven centuries. The study develops a tentative, broadly applicable theory of contract-clause adoption, invoking a biological analogy approach to the emulation, mutation, and transmission of institutional norms. Mezzadria (sharecropping) pre-dated Leuprandus and lasted well into the post-1945 years. From June 821 until January 1517 the chapter tracks the geographic spread and frequency of the clauses through a sample of 832 sharecropping contracts, following them through periods of demographic expansion, stagnation and decline. The intensification of farming that resulted from rising population pressure in the late Middle Ages altered relative factor prices and encouraged the creation of exclusive property rights in land.

Keywords: contract-clause adoption; demographic expansion; Italian sharecropping contract; Leuprandus; medieval provence; mutation; peasant servitude; property right



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