Economic Evidence of Population Change
THE study of the demographic history of the Middle Ages provides confirmation of the aphorism that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Faced with scarce and imperfect sources of direct evidence of population medieval historians have ingeniously sought to utilise a wide range of indirect evidence, including prices and wages, the occupation and value of land, and the prosperity of the urban and industrial sectors. Yet indirect evidence, by its very nature, is imprecise and difficult to interpret and consequently extreme care must be exercised in its use. A striking instance of the need for caution is provided by the experience of the later fourteenth century.
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