Communications, Towns, Ports and Trade
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Comparatively little study has been given to the communications of medieval England and Wales. This has arisen partly from a misconception about the lack of mobility in medieval life styles. Society was regarded as largely static and peasants, in particular, were thought to have been 'tied to the land' and thus limited in their experience of travelling to within a mile or two beyond their village. In fact there was a constant interchange between town and countryside. The higher echelons of society, kings and barons and ecclesiastics with their sprawling retinues, travelled frequently and widely about the kingdom. Countrymen migrated to the towns, townsmen moved away from urban poverty and guild restriction. Moreover, the existence of hundreds of rural markets, urban centres and regional fairs presupposes much moving about, not merely by the mercantile groups. Again rectors and vicars, however fleeting their visits, acted as links between the rural backwaters and the wider world. All this implies an effective communications network.