Pasture, Sheep, Wool, and People

Christopher Dyer

in A Country Merchant, 1495-1520

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199214242
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740954 | DOI:
Pasture, Sheep, Wool, and People

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter shows how sheep were kept and wool produced in a thinly populated countryside, with some flocks kept on specialized pastures, including the sites of abandoned villages, while others grazed on the fallows and stubbles of the corn-producing open fields of still surviving villages. Heritage himself kept sheep on both types of pasture. Pastures were organized in different ways, and the process of enclosure is discussed. The names in the account book allow the producers to be identified, and they reflect the whole social structure, from gentry to the shepherd who were allowed to keep a few sheep with their employers’ flock. Among the larger producers were the farmers and graziers who leased large pastures, or kept sheep on demesnes which practised mixed husbandry. A high proportion of the wool came from modestly-sized peasant flocks.

Keywords: sheep; pastures; open fields; enclosure; gentry; shepherd; farmers; peasants

Chapter.  15947 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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