My medieval paper:

My paper I've recently been working on, Property Rights and Contract Form in Medieval Europe, is now up on SSRN. Here's the abstract:

Throughout western Europe, beginning about 1200, leasing of feudal lords' estates became more common relative to direct management. In England, however, direct management increased beginning around the same time and until the fourteenth century, and leasing increased thereafter.

This article models the lord-peasant relationship as a game where contract form is chosen as the result of a tradeoff between incentives for high effort and excessive risk-bearing. Leasing increases as peasants' living standards improve. As for England, the increase in direct management can be explained by property law innovations that increased the security of freehold tenure, and the increase in leasing can be explained not only by improving living standards but also by increasing security of leasehold tenure. This model also explains why small landowners are more likely to manage their land directly, and why large landowners are more likely to lease their small estates than their large ones.

Feel free to download, read, and comment. You can get the article here. Also, the same goes for my other article, Privatization and the Law and Economics of Political Advocacy.

UPDATE: I apologize if the abstract is hard to follow. The 150-word limit (not for SSRN, but for certain journal submissions) is tough. "Direct management" and "leasing" are two alternative ways of managing one's estate. Also, I didn't realize that SSRN requires registration or membership to download papers. Write me an e-mail at volokh at post dot harvard dot edu asking for a copy of the paper, and I'll e-mail it to you.

Bobbie (mail):
Perhaps it's because I'm dense, but having read your introductory blurb three times, I still can't figure out what your article is about. (What is direct managment? And who is "directly" managing?) And your use of the word "however" seems to imply that your first and second sentences are in conflit, but they seem to compliment each other. Again, perhaps I'm just dense.

And SSRN is asking for a login name, which I don't have and don't want to register for, so I'm not able to read your paper.
1.29.2007 6:26pm
This sounds very interesting. I am not a part of SSRN either. What types of secondary and primary sources do you draw from? Where do you find this type of primary source?
1.29.2007 6:52pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Write me an e-mail, volokh at post dot harvard dot edu, if you want me to e-mail you the paper.

Bobbie: The first and second sentences do conflict with each other. "Direct management" and "leasing" are two different ways for feudal lords to profit from their estates. In western Europe, leasing was always becoming more common. But in England, the opposite happened from 1200 to the 14th century, and leasing only became more common after that. Sorry if the abstract is tough going, but there's a limit to what you can do in 150 words.

TALLAGE: I'm not particularly using primary sources -- I'm not a historian, so I'm leaving that to people who are better at it than I am. Instead, I'm taking empirical regularities that historians, with their primary sources, have already noticed, and trying to explain them using economic theory and a knowledge of developments in medieval law. The historians' primary sources are things like monastic annals, records of estate management at historic estates, judicial case reports on parchments at the Public Records Office, etc.
1.29.2007 7:48pm
Michael A. Cleverly (www):
I was able to download the PDF (without creating a user account with SSRN) by clicking on the "New York, USA" icon underneath the "Download document from:" subhead.
1.29.2007 9:33pm
Did the reduction in population resulting from plague deaths in the 14th century have any direct effect on property law innovations?
1.29.2007 11:43pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
My paper is about the effect of law on economic stuff -- I don't know much about the causality the other way around, that is, the effect of the plague on law. But I'm sure there are good books on the plague that might deal with that.

The main changes in property law that I discuss in my paper happened before the Black Death. The main changes in the law that I'm aware of is labor legislation -- workers' wages increased substantially after the Black Death, and the government tried to stop that through maximum wages, sumptuary laws (don't wear rich clothes unless you're high class), etc.
1.30.2007 12:04am
150 words? Oof! I thought that the US standard was 272?
1.30.2007 12:25am
So. You have gone medieval on us.
1.30.2007 12:50am
Heh. Nice.
1.30.2007 12:55pm