Saturday, August 29, 2015

Anglo-Saxon farmers in England

By 750, the Anglo-Saxons occupied most of present-day England. The famed seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England – Kent, Sussex, Essex, Wessex, East Anglia and Northumbria - struggled for predominance throughout the Anglo-Saxon period, and from time to time a ruler of one of these kingdoms managed to establish hegemony over the other six.

Just as they had settled England in tribes, the Anglo-Saxon peasants tended to live in small villages.

Most of the people living in Anglo-Saxon England were farmers. They lived in individual farms or hamlets (small village) of between two and 10 farm units.

Each farm had a principal house made of thatch and wood in which the family loved and slept.

Their fields were quite different from the rectangular ones of the Celtic Iron Age, being laid out in long curving strips. In some kingdoms some land was farmed in common, in strips scattered over open fields. In others, such as Kent, land was organized in a more self-contained way.

The influence of Anglo-Saxon farming extended even beyond the Middle Ages: the ‘suite’ of crops and livestock that taken for granted toady was established at this time, even though the people no longer raise them in the same ways.

The association between the plough and cereal crops in England also goes back to the later Anglo-Saxon period.

The city such as York and London never contained more than a few thousand people, as most Anglo-Saxons preferred to live in the country as farmers. However, the farmers would build a king’s hall, a royal manor or tun, which survives in the place name Wilton, Walton and Kingston.

The farmers of later Anglo-Saxon England were members of a complex society, and were affected not only by demographic change but also by changes, in social organization. In particular, the burdens imposed on them by church, state, and local lords were increasing in the later Anglo-Saxon periods.

Norman conquests of England led by William the Conqueror in 1066 ended Anglo-Saxon and Danish rule of England, as the new Norman elite replaced virtually all of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy and church leaders.
Anglo-Saxon farmers in England

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