Del camp a la ciutat. Les elits rurals valencianes a la Baixa Edat Mitjana.

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Publication date
2015
Reading date
14-01-2016
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Abstract
The thesis aims to study the Valencian rural elites, their features and their role in the city-countryside relations during the Middle Ages. The ample notarial, judicial and ecclesiastical written sources of the medieval period preserved in the Valencian Country makes this an excellent observatory in shaping the economic and social aspects as well as the political behavior of this group quite heterogeneous. The chronological framework of this work ranges from the late fourteenth century until the beginning of the sixteenth century, just before the movement of the Germanies. The thesis is divided into three blocks. The first of them is devoted to the analysis of the economic bases of the leading farmers. It insists on the wide range of economic activities in which these families were engaged. So, although farming and livestock breeding used to be an important part of their incomes, they were not the only ones. The leading villagers took part in the credit market, lending money to neighbors, to members of the lesser nobility and the local councils. Furthermore, they leased seigneurial and ecclesiastical rents and taxes of the community. Also, they rented cereal mills and olive mills. And, of course, they possessed the biggest holdings and the most productive kind of land, the irrigated plots. But all these 'coqs de village' were not farmers. Among them, we find notaries, artisans, and local clergymen. In those cases, agricultural activities had a second role in favour of their outstanding dedication. The second part of the thesis analyses the features of the well-to-do families, according to various factors such as marital strategies, the extension of the family, close relatives and integration of domestic staff. This research reveals that the contracts of 'germania' were more present in the inner region of the Valencian Midlands than in the coastal area. Despite this regional variation, it is true that most of the wealthier families from both the inner and the coastal areas chose the dowry system. In those cases, the value of the dowry was around 2,000 s., whereas average peasant families gave between 400 and 800 s. Regarding the family size, the wealthier families were on average three children who reached adulthood. It is, therefore, a figure that exceeds the number of children who used to have the rest of the local community, usually one or two, though left out the real birth rate and the high incidence of infant mortality. The well-to-do 'family' incorporated domestic servants, slaves and young boys that helped in diverse tasks and obligations that the family leader had to fulfill. The third part studies the signs of difference, which include the control of the local posts the adoption of forms and behaviors from the urban world approached the third. These behaviours manifest the efforts of these rural leaders for showing their singularity among the peasant society. This section also explores the ways of social promotion and how they were reflected in a great mobility often involved moving to the capital of the kingdom. The notarial profession and the ecclesiastical career became the main roads to the consolidation and social ascent for members of the Valencian rural elites. They played a crucial role in mediation between the countryside and the city, particularly in the economic domination. Before the conclusions, the last chapter draws the trajectory of one of the families more suggestive, and that shows the evolution of the Valencian rural elites throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.
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