Log in to access the full article.
What factors played the principal role in determining the level of villein rents in thirteenth-century England? Historians have assumed three factors: economic and demographic forces, seigneurial power, and custom. This analysis of the Hundred Rolls of 1279-80 for Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Oxfordshire, and Warwickshire indicates that community custom was the most important factor. It is only on ecclesiastical estates in Huntingdonshire that seigneurial power had a decisive influence in imposing heavy labour services on villeins. Furthermore, since villeins were protected by custom, the level of their rents was usually lower than that of competitive freehold rents, which reflected market forces.