Life and Work in Medieval Europe: (Fifth to Fifteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Medieval Europe: (Fifth to Fifteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Medieval Europe: (Fifth to Fifteenth Centuries)

Life and Work in Medieval Europe: (Fifth to Fifteenth Centuries)

Excerpt

In this essay, founded upon long years of research, and upon direct acquaintanceship with a large number of documents, monographs, and special and general works, in French and in various other languages, an attempt has been made to construct the first complete, ordered, and precise synthesis of the evolution of labour in Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. It has been sought not only to set out the variations in the legal status of persons and of lands, to which subject alone the majority of historians have usually confined themselves, but above all to set the working classes in the historical framework in which they lived, to trace the reciprocal action of political and social institutions, of exchange, of industrial and agricultural production, of the colonisation of the soil, of the distribution of landed and movable wealth, upon those economic transformations, which brought about the appearance of new forms of labour and which gave to the masses a place in society which they had never hitherto occupied. Thus the Middle Ages will appear in this study in their real aspect, no longer as an empty and gloomy gulf between two epochs full of life and light, antiquity and the modern age, but as one of the most brilliant and fruitful periods of the historic past, a period wherein labour took one of its most decisive steps forward in the direction of well-being, justice, and liberty.

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