Women, labour and land in the late medieval Low Countries. Coastal Flanders, c.1275-c.1575

Vrouwen, arbeid en land in de laatmiddeleeuwse Nederlanden. Kust - Vlaanderen, ca.1275-ca.1575
Begin - Einde 
2015 - 2019 (lopend)



My project deals with the economic activities of women in the countryside of coastal Flanders,
between c. 1275 and c. 1575. Recently, scholars in economic history have focused on the 
opportunities for women offered by the rise of labour markets in North-western Europe during the 
late middle ages. However, scholars specialized in women’s history emphasized the persistent 
cultural, institutional or technological constraints that women experienced in the past. In this 
project, I want to study the relationship between the impact of the development towards 
agrarian capitalism and the economic opportunities for women. Because this development was 
characterized by the rise of free markets for labour and for land, I particularly focus on the 
activities of women on these markets. Contrary to previous research, that sometimes focused too 
much on the bare wages of women and this on a national scale, I will examine the female 
employment characteristics in the context of the regional rural economy, differentiating between 
the various categories of working women. Moreover, I will include land as source of income. My 
research uses exceptionally rich sources, preserved for a region where women enjoyed more legal 
freedom and more fundamental heritage rights than in other regions. This projects wants to  
contribute to the current debate about women and economic growth in pre-industrial society, in  
which historians have indicated the urgent need of new empirical findings on a regional scale.