The Social, Political, Economic and Religious Situation in England In 1485 The Social Situation The first notable thing about England’s social situation in 1485 is that its overall population was no higher than around 2. 2 million inhabitants although it is thought to have previously peaked in the range of 6 million. This is in no doubt due to the numerous epidemics and famines that ravaged England throughout the 14th Century (The Black Death being the main culprit in the mid sass’s) with the population continuing to dwindle until the late 15th Century.
It was a lack of connection between hygiene and health that kept disease at a flourish along with poor living conditions especially in the larger populated towns where poor drainage and excreta covered streets attracted disease carrying vermin. Famine was the other major threat to the population with around 1 in 6 harvests being so poor as to create enough dearth to cause famine. These though, were not the only reasons for the population decrease.
By 1485 the country had been through 3 decades of civil war, the average life expectancy was no more than 35 and infant mortality meant 20% of new born would ii before the end of their first year and 10% before the age of 10 but it was around this time that the population stabilized and began to increase. Compared to today’s modern society, in 1485 only around 10% of the population lived in the cities with London being the main population hub.
The majority of the population lived in small villages and market towns or settlements throughout the countryside making their living through farming, the only real building of note being the church, the focal point of the community. The Religious Situation In 1485 England, the majority of the population were Roman Catholics, no other faith loud be tolerated. The focus for most aspects of life were based upon religion due to the fact that people believed the harder you worked for yourself and the church in addition to the amount of money you gave to the church, the better after-life awaited you.
It was the communal hub for the rural villages and settlements where all manners of celebrations were held. The holidays were celebrated there (holy days), sermons were held on a daily basis along with the traditional Sunday service because not only was it the religious centre but the social centre too. It was the main source of information for news from the king, bishop or outside world not only divine instruction.
Your place in the church was in direct relation to your place in the community with people of higher status closer to the altar and lesser at the back. It was the second greatest landowner of the time and even had its own system of law courts and gave special privileges to its clergy. The church had great power throughout England and its influence reached beyond Just the community and acted Report on the Financial, Religious, Economic and Political Situation in 1485 By Bandager
When Henry VII took the throne, his relationship with the church was a strong one and remained so throughout his reign not only giving Henry a reputation as a good churchman but cementing the churches power, a power that had created the hierarchy of the feudal system which was based on the churches own Great Chain of Being. The Political Situation The feudal system was the basic political system used throughout the middle ages which formed a hierarchy from the king down to the peasantry.
It was a basic form of security for the king to rule his land. In exchange for an oath of fealty and promise to apply men for an army, the king would grant estates (known as fiefs) and money to the aristocracy and his family who would be nobles such as lords, barons, bishops, earls and abbots. The fiefs would include houses, farming equipment, animals and serfs. In 1485, Henry VII became king after he took the crown after the Battle of Bowwow’s.
Henry was a man with many challenges to his kingship during his reign and he needed to keep the nobles on his side, not only for providing an army but to make sure they did not rebel against him. To ensure this, Henry adopted a ‘carrot and stick policy to help his rule. Nobles he considered trustworthy and loyal were rewarded with special privileges such as a place on the Great Council, the King’s Council and Patronages but those deemed untrustworthy or more likely to rebel were ‘punished’ with Acts of Attainder, bonds or reconnaissance.
With the nobles governed and controlled, they were then free to grant lands to knights/vessels to rule in return for their service and a promise of providing more men for an army. The knights or vessels would then lease parts of their land to the peasantry to live on in return for labor and the promise to fight in the kings army or to farmers, merchants and refasten who would supply food and goods to those above them or to trade. The Economic Situation In 1485 only around 10% of England’s population dealt in trade or industry, the country was mainly an agricultural nation.
This period saw the introduction of enclosure in agriculture. Whereas before the open field system gave itself to more smaller productions, enclosure meant the owner of the land could do with it as he wished and while this meant many people lost out it is seen as a major step forward in agriculture (Henry VII and the Economy 2013) The main industry in this period was LOL and cloth, which dominated export (around 80%) along with smaller trades such as the leather, building and metal industries.