University of Cambridge > > Core Seminar in Economic and Social History > Wages and labour relations in the Middle Ages: It's not (all) about the money

Wages and labour relations in the Middle Ages: It's not (all) about the money

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For long periods of history, a significant proportion of the labour force has received all or part of their wages in non-monetary in-kind payments. Despite its historical ubiquity, this form of labour remuneration remains poorly understood. This paper presents a framework which allows for the valuation and interpretation of in-kind wages. We apply our method to a new dataset of agricultural wages for labourers in medieval England (1270-1430), most of whom received a composite wage for which in-kind payment was the largest share. Assessing the market value of the wages these workers received, we find an increase in the relative importance of cash payments in the latter decades of the fourteenth century. We show that this was connected to a fundamental shift in labour relations, providing new empirical insights into the so-called `golden age of labour’ that followed the Black Death.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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