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Response to Review of The Economy of Medieval Wales, 1067-1536

I read Dr Chapman’s review with interest and appreciation. I take it as a compliment that his review raises only ‘two very minor areas which detract from the book’, and that these are only his dislike of the use of endnotes and my regular reference the historic counties of Wales while failing to supply a map of them. With regard to the former, I empathise, but the use of endnotes was a compromise with the publisher given the relatively extensive notation employed in a brief, student-friendly text. Regarding the latter, I indeed ought to have included a map of the historic counties. More broadly, I would defend the continued use of the historic counties to frame analysis, as they were in place and influenced local developments for more than 420 years, while the post-1972 county formulations have been with us for less than 50 years. That said, I acknowledge that the fading afterlife of our historic counties can be confusing for students and presents a particular challenge to institutions such as county history societies—I was editor of the Denbighshire Historical Society Transactions 2015–19—which remain stubbornly wedded to their historic boundaries.

What I had rather feared might arise in reviews of The Economy of Medieval Wales was my exclusion, in the name of brevity (just 45,000 words), of a fuller exploration of certain topics widely understood as central to the Economic History of medieval England; credit, for example, is underserved. I examine this separately in a now forthcoming article, ‘Credit and colonization in medieval Wales’ of c.10,000 words, the length of which ought to make clear why it could not be properly addressed within the confines of this volume.(1) I volunteer here a list of some of these seriously underserved topics in hope that others will take them up. Indeed, one of principal aims of the volume was to encourage further research. They include: a comprehensive examination of the impact of the Black Death; the collection and analysis of grain and livestock prices; a study of persons bearing Welsh names, and their economic activities, in borough and royal court records of the border shires; further study of the historic landscape and landscape utilization; and economic ties with Ireland. These topics but scratch the surface. I invite interested potential PhD candidates or research-project collaborators to contact me at Swansea University ([email protected]).

Notes

  1. M.F. Stevens, ‘credit and colonization in medieval Wales’, in S. Köhler, ed., Change and Transformation of Premodern Credit Markets (Heidelberg, 2020/21).Back to (1)