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The Berkeley Estate 1281-1417

Bridget Wells-Furby

(2012)

This volume is the first full length discussion of the economy and management of a lay estate in this period. It has been made possible by the wealth of the surviving archive of the Berkeley family, including over 400 manorial accounts with extents, valors and related documents and about 2,400 deeds within this period.

The volume begins with a summary of the political careers of the five lords and their personal backgrounds and a discussion of the composition of the estate and its development, particularly the influence of the ladies. Then follows a summary of the estate's administration and resources. The central section provides a detailed and thoughtful discussion of the economy of the estate using one manor as an exemplar and dealing successively with the tenurial and free sectors of its economy and the arable and pastoral aspects of its husbandry. Careful calculations supported by many tables show how profitable (or not) each aspect of the economy proved to be and why different policies were introduced in response to changing circumstances. Throughout, the discussion is illuminated by comparison with the few other lay estates which have been studied and with the management of the better documented church estates.

Regional and local historians, especially in Gloucestershire and Somerset, will be grateful for Appendix One, comprising histories of all the manors mentioned in the text, especially as most of these relate to areas not yet covered by the Victoria County History.

xiv + 326 pages, ISBN 9780900197819

Price: £30 (free postage)

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