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Expropriated Peasants. Rural credit, indebtedness and land seizure in the Middle Ages

A major factor in the development of agricultural capitalism was the disposses¬sion of the peasantry. Sooner or later, in most of western Europe, peasants were expro¬priated from their lands, which were subsequently concentrated in larger holdings, owned and managed by rich farmers, urban landlords or lords.Expropriation took many forms, one of which was the seizure of peasant land through indebtedness, given as a guarantee of loans received or sold in order to repay the creditor. The importance and extent of rural credit in the Middle Ages, as well as the generalization of peasant indebtedness have long been known. However, the consequences of insolvency and non-pay¬ment, and in particular the seizure of the debtor’s assets, have been less studied. In fact, the confiscation and legal sale of the debtor’s goods in order to pay the creditor and settle the debt gave rise to a wide circulation of effects and properties in two circuits: a very dynamic second-hand market, only recently attracting the attention of historians and important for historical awareness of material culture and consumption patterns, and an equally very active peasant land market, both of plots and holdings, which has been a significant research focus for histo¬rians for a number of years. In this session we plan to compare different practices, situations and logics, and draw more general conclusions about the role of rural credit and indebtedness and on the peasant land market in medieval European societies.


  • Antoni Furio, University of Valencia,, Spain
  • Phillipp R Schofield, Aberystwyth University,, UK

Session members

  • Mattheu Arnoux, EHESS,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Antoni Furio, University of Valencia,
  • Phillipp R Schofield, Aberystwyth University,

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  • Antoni Furio, University of Valencia,, Spain
  • Phillipp R Schofield, Aberystwyth University,, UK