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Credit and Village Society in Fourteenth-Century England$
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Chris Briggs

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264416

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264416.001.0001

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(p.214) Conclusion
Credit and Village Society in Fourteenth-Century England

Chris Briggs

British Academy

This book began by describing the transformation that occurred in the 1990s in the impression and ideas of credit systems in the medieval countryside. Through this change in attitude on the medieval credit system, the sophistication of rural credit mechanisms and their positive effects within the traditional economies were established. Before this time, the consensus on medieval credit mechanism was of a vehicle of poverty and stagnation. By changing the perspective of credit as a framework of crisis to focusing on credit as mere credit itself, the mechanism of lending and borrowing during the medieval period was not constantly borne out of crisis. It has been found out that credit supply did not always fail in problem periods, that debtors were not always worse off than their lenders, and that leasing of land by debtors was an effective strategy compatible with individual prosperity and not an indication of economic failure. In sum, the credit system of medieval Europe had bearings on the economy of the country. Although rural credit had little effect on the overall contours of the economic change of Europe, it nonetheless shaped other significant forces. In the earlier part of the century, the rural credit system was there to reinforce wealth, and influenced in such a way to separate the peasants from the upper strata. In the second half of the century, market opportunities were exploited by the means of credit mechanisms. However, when economic contraction happened at the end of the century due to the sustained demographic collapse and monetary difficulties, rural credit mechanisms fell into abeyance.

Keywords:   credit system, medieval credit system, rural credit mechanisms, poverty, stagnation, credit supply, market opportunities

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