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Social Mobility and the Worsted Weavers of Norwich, c.1450-1530

DURKEE, DANA,ANN (2017) Social Mobility and the Worsted Weavers of Norwich, c.1450-1530. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the question of social mobility in late medieval English towns, using the worsted weavers of Norwich as a case study. Social stratification is a key topic in medieval urban history, and the question of rising oligarchy and class conflict have influenced the way historians understand the institutional and constitutional development of late medieval English towns.

This study employs a dual approach to the question of whether commercial success created an urban environment conducive to social and occupational mobility for craftsmen. It first considers the development of Norfolk’s native worsted cloth industry in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It then uses a prosopographical analysis of the worsted weavers to consider whether the commercial success of worsted cloth was creating the opportunity for social mobility among urban artisans. This study finds that opportunities for social mobility were indeed increasing in the late fifteenth century.

The thesis has been divided into two parts. The first part examines the economic and institutional context for the fifteenth-century commercial revival of worsted cloths in overseas trade. It also considers the way that the regional production of worsteds became regulated by the Guild of Worsted Weavers in Norwich. It then considers the constitutional development of craft guilds in Norwich in the fifteenth century, and their integration as public institutions. The second part of the thesis examines the lives of Norwich’s worsted weavers between c.1450 and 1530. It uses the framework of an 'artisanal cursus honorum' to consider the various ways in which the worsted weavers, both individually and as a group, advanced professionally, socially, and economically.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Towns; Guilds; Urban History; Late Middle Ages; England; Norwich; Medieval History; Medieval England; Fifteenth Century; Sixteenth Century; Social History; Economic History; Cloth; Material Culture; Prosopography;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Jun 2017 10:23

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