Changes to Land Ownership

The dramatic mortality that the Black Death brought about in Scotland affected the amount of labourers that were able to work for landlords. During the Middle Ages, society was structured around the feudal system. This system was introduced in Britain after the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was dominant for the remainder of the Middle Ages. In the feudal system, landlords relied on labourers to work on their land in exchange for military protection. However, the loss of so many labourers led to an increased demand for labour, which in turn led to a shift in wages. Land charters such as this document—being legal agreements for the ownership of land and labourers—were a major representation of the effects that these shifting conditions had on medieval Scottish society. This was seen in neighbouring regions as well. In England, for example, legislation was passed in parliament under Edward III in an attempt to control the crisis affecting the land market that had risen from the Plague.  The Ordinance of Labourers of June 18th, 1349, is an example of this sort of legislation. 

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