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The way we were: Strivers and shirkers

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   May 2013

The Black Death of 1348-9 led to a considerable shortage of labourers. In 1351, Edward III’s Statute of Labourers tried to establish a maximum wage and a legal distinction between those able to work and those unwilling to work:

“Because a great part of the people and especially of the workmen and servants has now died in that pestilence, some, seeing the straights of the masters and the scarcity of servants,…

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