• Jennifer Hole
Part of the Archival Insights into the Evolution of Economics book series (AIEE)


A study of the history of economic thought shows a tendency for modern scholars to assume that economics reflect rationality rather than morality. In late medieval times, however, economic thought was subsumed to ethical thought and religious beliefs. In modern times, economic historians have followed the tendency to construct value-neutral spheres within the discipline of economics, despite early work that highlighted the importance of economic morality. Also, most social and economic historians have tended to overlook the fact that economic ethics had a wider application in late medieval England than urban trade. Although some commentators have extended their inquiry beyond the ethics of the marketplace, the sources they have consulted are limited and impressionistic. Here, a wider range of contemporary sources has been explored, which have shown that kings, lords and gentry, and the officials of all of them, were considered to be engaged in economic activities with ethical ramfications. From the observations made in these sources, there followed criticisms and exhortations to abhor avarice and abide by such ideals as the common good, moderation and liberality. Ideals of balance and harmony underpinned much thinking about the good order of society. Late medieval English theologians and other writers placed much importance upon good lordship, especially the notion that lords and their agents should be virtuous and refrain from exploiting the poor.


Economic Historian Literary Work Economic Thought Social Harmony Pastoral Manual 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Hole
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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