Statute of Laborers

Statute of Laborers

 

in Soviet historiography, a law or resolution that established such matters as the wage level of hired labor and the length of the workday in several European countries between the 14th and 19th centuries. The original statute of laborers was passed in England in 1351, based on an ordinance of 1349. It was enacted when wages rose as a result of a drop in the labor force after the Black Plague of 1348–49. Under threat of imprisonment, all persons between the ages of 12 and 60 who did not own their land or who had no other means of support were directed to work for the same wages as they had before the plague. The statute was intended to provide feudal lords and the urban elite with a cheap labor force by means of extraeconomic coercion. With the shift to industrial capitalism such laws were no longer enacted. Great Britain repealed the last such law in 1813.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, pp. 280–32,748–50.
Rogers, T. Istoriia truda i zarabotnoi platy v Anglii s XIII po XIX vek. St. Petersburg, 1899. (Translated from English.)
References in periodicals archive ?
The author covers a period of 188 yearsu1348 to 1536-- which saw three epidemics of the Black Death; the Statute of Laborers passed, which sought to cap wages; the Sumptuary laws, which attempted to regulate consumption, particularly through commodity prices and the dress of the lower orders; the PeasantsAE Revolt; the Statute of Cambridge, which restricted agricultural workers from moving into the trades; the last petition to House of Commons discussing serfdom; the loss of France; and the Petition to House of Lords to abolish Serfdom rejected.
At the same time the shift in economic power, a result of the Statute of Laborers (1351), produced a ripple effect whereby market forces dictated new employment possibilities but was a source of anxiety for the elite classes.