12th Century England was envied for it's fertility and yes it's climate. Any during the 12th century, the population of England and its towns and villages expand. But by and large, this is expansion without growth, and for many average income falls.
…is difficult to calculate. But let's take the higher end estimates:
- 1086: 2.25 million
- 1215: 5.7m
- 1348: 7m
And you know what happens next !
The 12th Century society and village
What defined your status in medieval England was whether you were free or unfree, and how much land you had.
Some rough proportions: About -
- 15% of people were free
- 40% of people were Villani (villeins) – they had substantial land (c. 30 acres) but owed service
- 35% were cottars or bordars – unfree, less land
- 10% were slaves or as near as darn it
Not all villages were the nucleated village that we think of today – but it's far and away the most common model. Each village was composed of a number of tofts (or crofts) – areas of 1/4 – 1 Acre, rented from the lord. each croft held the medieval house – typically 24 x 12 feet, 2 rooms, 5+ people and not a lot else.
An original source – The Manor of Elton
Somewhere between 1154 and 1189, the Abbot of Ramsey had a survey completed of the Manor of Elton in East Anglia. Attached, is the porigianl text, which compared the people, income and service of the people in time of Henry 1 and present day (i.e. HenryII). I though you might be interested to see it, so I have retyped it, with some notes.
Towns and Trade
The wealth of England was based on wool – something that's not going to change for a number of centuries. During the 12th century the number of towns grows – possibly doubles in fact, as every Norman lord tries to make a bit of cash. Other key trades included the wine trade from Rouen and increasingly Gascony in South West France, and the export of Tin from Cornwall.