This post today shows how a village was decimated on the orders of its new owner Lord Dacre – who had taken over the manor after the Templar Order was dissolved and its assets seized. According to the Exploring Leeds blog – the Templar preceptory at Temple Newsam, near the modern city of Leeds in northern England, had looked after the villagers. But once these benevolent landowners had gone, the new owner of the estate had no interest in having a bunch of bumpkins in his bank yard. So, they were ordered away.
Why would this have happened? Well, England’s wealth was built on wool. And wool needs sheep. And sheep need land. So goodbye peasants who are in the way. The importance of wool can be seen in any number of medieval documents, carvings and the fact that even today, the Lord Chancellor sits on the ‘woolsack’ in the House of Lords. This was introduced in the fourteenth century and is basically a large cushion for the Lord Chancellor to plump his bottom down on to. It was also a symbol of the centrality of wool to England’s economy.