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Journal > Volumes > 41 (2010) / 4 (Winter)
Demographic Dimensions of the Mid-Tudor Crisis
John S. Moore
University of Bristol

That the mid-Tudor Crisis was also a demographic crisis seems to have escaped general notice, partly because of E. A. Wrigley and Roger Schofield’s belief that England’s population fell by no more than 5.5 to 6.0 percent in the later 1550s, partly because non-economic historians have viewed it mainly in political and religious terms. Yet a fall in population of 16 to 20 percent has been argued by economic historians using probate records. This study employs a different method, comparing estimated English populations in 1546–48 (based on chantry certificates) with those of 1563 (based on an ecclesiastical census). This has required a preliminary evaluation of the evidence and of the “multipliers” needed to produce the estimated population totals. This comparison suggests a fall in the English national population of around 18 percent, with declines in individual counties ranging between 12 and 27 percent. There was indeed a demographic crisis in England between 1556 and 1560.

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