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Chapter Summary

Agriculture is the key sector in the pre-modern economy, representing the largest part of the aggregate product and providing occupation for the majority of the workforce. During the last few decades less than 5 per cent of the working population in western Europe has been employed in agriculture. Small family farms are inextricably linked by collective enterprise in the carrying out of work on the irrigation network. The peasant economy was characterised by the coexistence of small farms together with medium and large landownership. A village is more than merely a settlement of farmhouses grouped together. Originally, in its classic form during the 9th and 10th centuries, the manor or seigneury was a combination of economic elements and power relations. The institutional setting of European agriculture has been outlined and the changes taking place within this setting are important when dealing with the problem of labour productivity.

Keywords: agriculture; irrigation; labour productivity; landownership; manor; peasant economy; village



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