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Rural Life

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Chapter Summary

The medieval world was primarily rural and peasant production dominated the agricultural sector. According to the provincial laws the resources of the village were either communal or made up of privately owned subsidiary tenant land. Archaeological excavations and various sections in the provincial laws, particularly in the Law of Jutland, show that the tofts were permanently enclosed. Before 1100 the tofts in Danish villages seems to have been quite large and were used both for pasture and arable farming. It has been shown that of the 110 settlements recorded in Falsterlisten, part of King Valdemar's Survey (1230), 20 settlements had disappeared before 1509. A system comparable to the 'classic' western European manorial system did not unfold in Denmark until the end of the Middle Ages and it is a matter of dispute whether it spread in the second half of the sixteenth century or not until the seventeenth century.

Keywords: arable farming; Danish village; European manorial system; King Valdemar's Survey; Law of Jutland; medieval world; provincial law; rural resource



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