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At the beginning of May, the North West Early Modern Seminar met at Lancaster University.  In the past there have been two twenty minute papers and several 5 minute presentations which briefly introduced research topics.  This session was different in having 3 twenty minute papers.

The first was given by Prof. Naomi Tadmor (Lancaster), on ‘The settlement of the poor and the fiscal military state’.  She talked about the need further to integrate the understanding of the increase in poor relief and in the burden of the fiscal military state which took place in the seventeenth century.  As part of her paper, she described the situation in England in the 1690s.  England was in the midst of a large scale war but the poor relief laws were about to lapse.  Settlement laws restricted the movement of people and the settlement of soldiers and mariners was suspended until they were discharged. These resettlements were managed by the magistrates.  The result was the their families followed their pater familias into legal limbo – they couldn’t acquire legal settled status in any other parish. Prof. Tadmor pointed out that for women, marriage to a soldier presented brutal options – she either had to live in her husband’s parish where she might never have lived before, or she could follow the camp.  When forces left England, wives and children were left behind because only 6 per regiment could follow.

Continuing the theme of the fiscal-military state, Georg Christ (Manchester) talked about ‘Venice: A Sea-Born(e) State in the Late Middle Ages (and what England could have to do with it)’.  Dr Christ sought to challenge notions of the big themes of the fiscal-military state and to take it back to the Middle Ages.  The research he presented was part of bigger project on Venice as a seaborne state in 14th century.  His work investigates how Venice coped with the imperial mega systems and consolidation of regional states. He proposed that the rise of Venice was to do with northern Italy and needs to be seen in the context of rising regional states.

The final paper was from Murray Seccombe, a PhD student at Lancaster on “Causeys and Causes: Highway Administration in the Seventeenth-Century Wakefield Court Leet”.  He gave an interesting analysis of who was responsible for the maintenance of highways in different areas of a single Yorkshire court leet.

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