Tweets, Barn Bubbles and Medieval Real Estate

For the last three years we have been conducting research on the Leverhulme funded project, The First Real Estate Bubble: Land Prices and Rents in Medieval England c.1200 – 1550. We have evolved new ways of working which have produced findings that should challenge the established historiography.

All good things must come to an end, and therefore we can now announce the launch of the project website which summarises our findings, provides links to three working papers, and hosts the data collected during the project (which is now freely downloadable) and details close to 100,000 records.

The three papers highlight the findings of the project based on the largest ever collected dataset for the property market in medieval England.  We have described how real estate was an active asset class for medieval investors who would speculate on property outside of their local sphere of influence and who would join with other investors to leverage their positions.  Contrary to other earlier studies, we have also shown that there was a de-regulation of the property market following the impact of the Black Death.  Finally, we also find evidence supporting the existence of speculative bubbles – a so-called ‘barn bubble’ – in agricultural land during the period we investigated – thus establishing such economic phenomena earlier than previously identified (for instance with the Tulipmania episode in the Dutch Golden Age in the seventeenth century).

Normally we would highlight any obvious parallels to contemporary events.  For instance, we were able to make interesting comparisons between a credit crunch in 1294 and the Crisis of 2007/8 on a previous project.  A tweet linking our work with current issues in the UK housing market has recently gone viral (not being familiar with the social media, we think this is what 1 tweet, and 5 retweets is).  This twitter user has commented @LondonYIMBY Londoners driving up prices outside the capital was also an issue in late medieval times …’.  Whilst this is sort of what we found, you would need to read the whole paper to get the full context.

Adrian Bell

Professor Adrian Bell

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Professor Chris Brooks

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Dr Helen Killick

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