The Background to History
 
Prof. Jones: (spoken) Good evening. One of the main elements in any assessment of the medieval open-field farming system is the availability of plough teams for the winter plowing. Professor Tofts of the University of Manchester puts it like this:
 
(Music - 60s-style folk rock)
 
To plough once in the winter Sowing, and again in Lent,
Sowing with as many oxen
Sowing with as many oxen
As he shall have yoked in the plough
Oh yes
Oh yes
As he shall have yoked in the plough.
Oh yes
Oh yes
 
Prof. Jones: But of course there is considerable evidence of open-field villages as far back as the tenth century. Professor Moorhead
 
(Heavy metal-type chords.)
 
Theeeeeere's ev-i-de-ence
Theeeeeere's ev-i-de-ence
There's evidence (evidence)
Evidence (evidence)
Evidence (evidence)
There's evidence (evidence!)
 
Evidence of settlements with one long village street,
Farmsteads, hamlets, little towns - the framework was complete
By the tiiiiime ... (OF THE NORMAN CONQUEST!) The rural framework was complete
Rur-al
frame-work
wa-as
com-plete.
  
Prof. Jones: This is not to say, of course, that the system was as sophisticated as it later came to be. I asked the Professor of Medieval studies at Cambridge why this was.
  
Prof.. Hegermann: (stuttering) Well, i-it may not have been a - a statutory obligation, but, uh, I mean, uh, a guy who was a freeman whuh - was obliged in the medieval system to...
 
Prof Jones: To do boonwork?
 
Prof. Hegermann: That's right. There's an example, ah, from the village rolls, ah, in 1313.
 
Prof. Jones: And I believe you're going to do it for us.
 
Prof. Hegermann: That's right, yeah...
  
(Music - the Beatles meets Joe Cocker)
  
Oh it's written in the village rolls
That if one plough-team wants an oxen
And that oxen is lent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the loooord's consent.
Yeah, yeah,
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
(na na na na)
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
(na na na na)
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
(na na na na)
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent
Then the villeins and the ploughmen got to have the lord's consent.
 
 
That was a talk on the open-field farming system by Professor Angus Jones. Some of the main points covered in this talk are now available on a long-playing record entitled "The Ronettes Sing Medieval Agrarian History."
 
Music and lyrics by: Neil Innes
 

 

 

 

Back to Songs Index