Book Series Studies and Texts, vol. 162

A Mute Gospel

The People and Culture of the Medieval English Common Fields

Sherri Olson

  • Pages: 300 p.
  • Size:155 x 230 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-162-1
  • Hardback
  • Available


Mainstream historiography has traditionally found the roots of peasant action, and much of the meaning of that action, in legal status difference between lords and peasants, and among peasants themselves. In the last several decades, this older class conflict model has lost some ground to an interpretation of status that still emphasizes difference but focuses on questions of gender, sexuality, and "alterity". Other students of medieval rural society have shifted interest away from questions of status, and focused instead on peasant economic influence and self-determination. Such evolving models of peasants’ economic and political agency have not only extended our understanding of the complexity of rural life, they have made the issue of villager identity as significant a research objective as the identity of members of the elite, merchants, city-dwellers, and saints. The goal of this study is to gain a more balanced view of medieval society by considering how peasants thought about themselves and their world as revealed in English manorial court rolls and other records of estate administration.