The Rabbit and the Medieval East Anglian Economy
By Mark Bailey
Agricultural History Review, Vol.36:1 (1988)
Abstract: The rabbit was a rare beast in medieval England, and much sought after for both its meat and its fur. This investigation plots the early history of commercial rabbiting in East Anglia, and its transition from a low output concern to a growth industry in the later Middle Ages. The development of the rabbit-warren into a highly lucrative source of income is explained in terms of the changing economic and social conditions after ~he Black Death, and the more intensive management of warrens by landlords. The occupational spin-offs from rabbiting, and the social implications of poaching in a region where resistance to the feudal order was endemic, are also explored. Final consideration is given to the economic impact of the rabbit on areas of poor soil, and its ability to compensate for their inherent disadvantages in grain production.