To What Extent Were Economic Forces The Principle

955 Words4 Pages
To what extent were economic forces the principle cause of political change in medieval England? Over the course of the medieval period, politics changed dramatically. Monarchs began to realise that rule by force implied that you always ran the risk of being beaten by a more powerful foe. In response to this change, the monarchy undoubtedly began to use legal systems and Parliament to cement their positions. The age of the absolutist monarch was waning as Parliament’s freedoms and powers increased – their hold over the monarch’s finances was a particular strength. A symbiotic relationship emerged, as monarch and the people began to rule together – Parliament drafted legislation for approval by the monarch. This growth of the power of the people was also reflected in the dissolution of the feudal system. Peasants were, by the end of the period able to move freely from manor to manor and receive pay for the work they provided. New groups like merchants and townsmen gained in stature and wealth. The balance of power had moved definitively, and in many ways the Middle Ages set the tone for the travails of the Early Modern period and the regicidal civil war that nearly tore the country apart. So, what forces caused these enormous changes? To suggest that this was all brought about chiefly by economic pressures is naïve. A multiplicity of factors worked together to fashion this new political order. Indeed the very nature of medieval society defies this separation. Feudalism as created by William tied people to the land for social, religious and economic reasons. The Church was a sincere religious institution and, at the same time, a massive multi-national money making machine that was one of the most powerful political influences in Europe. It is very hard and wrong to separate out individual aspects of change as this would be to fail to recognise the nature of the
Open Document