Book Chapter

Alternative Food Supplies, Alternative Currencies? Food deliveries by tenant farmers in the late medieval Low Countries

  • Tim Soens
  • Cécile Bruyet

Why did landlords and farmers in commercialized, monetized economies prefer in-kind payments over cash? In the urbanized core regions of late medieval Europe, urban households and institutions often managed extensive estates in the countryside. This phenomenon, primarily viewed as a capital investment – termed "La trahison de la Bourgeoisie" by Fernand Braudel in 1949 – has been predominantly analyzed in terms of monetary returns, impact on wealth inequality, and agrarian development. However, urban landownership also entailed the potential for direct food deliveries to city dwellers. This paper examines the differing roles of land for urban households in two key medieval Low Countries cities, Ghent and Antwerp, investigating the circumstances and agents behind the use of rents-in-kind as an alternative form of currency. We argue that rents-in-kind were not merely converted into cash as cities expanded. For instance, while Antwerp's population grew in the fifteenth century, so did the significance of cereals as currency in lease contracts. Given the volatile and unpredictable nature of grain markets, having a stable, market-independent access to cereals remained a potent symbol of social status and privilege.

  • Keywords:
  • Urban Landownership; Food as Alternative Currency; Urban Food Supplies; Medieval Grain Markets.,
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Tim Soens

Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium - ORCID: 0000-0003-1040-5266

Cécile Bruyet

Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium - ORCID: 0000-0002-0203-092X

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Chapter Information

Chapter Title

Alternative Food Supplies, Alternative Currencies? Food deliveries by tenant farmers in the late medieval Low Countries

Authors

Tim Soens, Cécile Bruyet

Language

English

DOI

10.36253/979-12-215-0347-0.28

Peer Reviewed

Publication Year

2024

Copyright Information

© 2024 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Mezzi di scambio non monetari. Merci e servizi come monete alternative nelle economie dei secoli XIII-XVIII / Alternative currencies. Commodities and services as exchange currencies in the monetarized economies of the 13th to 18th centuries

Editors

Angela Orlandi

Peer Reviewed

Number of Pages

592

Publication Year

2024

Copyright Information

© 2024 Author(s)

Content License

CC BY 4.0

Metadata License

CC0 1.0

Publisher Name

Firenze University Press

DOI

10.36253/979-12-215-0347-0

ISBN Print

979-12-215-0346-3

eISBN (pdf)

979-12-215-0347-0

eISBN (xml)

979-12-215-0348-7

Series Title

Datini Studies in Economic History

Series ISSN

2975-1241

Series E-ISSN

2975-1195

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