Natural EconomyCategory: 06th century
Each village was self-sufficient, that is, most of the necessities of life were produced in the village itself. The needs of the villagers were few and simple. Food, clothing and shelter were their basic needs. Arable-farming and cattle-breeding satisfied the needs of the people in the way of foodstuffs, clothing and footwear. Wool from the sheep was spun into yarn and woven into rough cloth in the peasant’s hut. The hides of the cattle were made into leather for shoes and harness. The trees provided wood which was used in the building of houses and in making furniture and wagons. Smaller branches from the trees were cut and used as firewood.
In the village there was a forge where a blacksmith made and mended tools and weapons. There was also a wheelwright’s workshop and a mill. Nearly every village had a stream which worked the mill and gave the people water.
There was very little trading at that time. There were no shops—the village artisans produced goods only to order; the farmers were not skilful, their crops were very poor, and they had not much to sell. The villagers had little or no money, and very little need for it, since they themselves produced most of what they wanted. Yet there were some things which the villagers could not produce. Iron and salt had to be brought in from outside.
Roads were very poor; there was seldom anything better than a muddy track between one village and the next. If goods had to be sent from one part of the country to another, they were carried on pack-horses or pack-mules. People did not travel very much. It is very likely that a person born in a village, lived in it all his life and died in it without ever having once left it. They knew nothing of what was going on in the world. To them the village was the world.
A travelling pedlar sometimes called at the village. He was always warmly welcomed. Everybody would gather round him eager to see what he had in his pack. Nails and needles and thread, salt and tar could be bought from the pedlar. Sometimes he had toys for the children. If the people had no money they would give up some of their produce exchange for what they wanted. The pedlar would also brin news of the outside world, news he had learned while trav clling from one village to another.
Thus, natural economy, that is, a system under whic every village was self-sufficient and produced all the neces sities of life for consumption and not for sale, predominate in Britain in early medieval times. In the 8th-9th centuries the Anglo-Saxons sold only some surplus above their personal consumption.
NOTES AND MEANINGS
- Anglo-Saxon times. The Anglo-Saxon period (5th-11t centuries) which corresponds to the Early Middle Ages in the history of Britain.