The partnership of man and horse on the land goes back a long time, but, as John Langdon shows, it was not until after the Conquest that the horse really began to come into its own.
Until recently the dominant view among historians concerning medieval English agriculture was that it was archly traditional and un-enterprising. Crop, and to a certain extent animal, yields were seen as pathetically meagre, as a generally stagnant technology failed to cope with the demands of a growing population, particularly up to the end of the thirteenth century. This pessimistic view of the state of medieval English agriculture, put most forcibly by Michael Postan in a series of writings since the Second World War, has recently been giving way to a more optimistic picture which sees the agriculture of the time as at least having the potential for improvement, even if it did not act upon it all the time.
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