[In England the] male participants in the familial labour force were engaged almost exclusively in field-work with its characteristic pattern of work intensity. Each year after the long Christmas recess their work steadily built up to a climax in late February and March when they laboured mightily in preparation of the tilth. A dry spring augured particularly heavy and protracted work.... Thereafter Easter ushered in a period of relative calm until the fruits of their labour were ready to be garnered and harvest time once more witnessed a phase of intense male labour. In July they mowed the meadows. In August they aided the women to bring in the grain crops and in September they prepared the winter crop land. Then peace once more prevailed. Periods of great work intensity, in spring and late summer, thus alternated with periods of relative idleness, but overall the menfolk of the family enjoyed a relatively light work load, labouring only some 128 days a year.

Source: Ian Blanchard, "Introduction," in Labour and Leisure in Historical Perspective, Thirteenth to Twentieth Centuries (Franz Steiner Verlag, 1994), 12-13.


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