In this activity, we first had to explore the relationships between the lords and peasants before and after the Black Death. Before the black death, the lords held control over the land and peasants that resided in that land. The lords regulated how and where the peasants worked, and also required that the peasants make payments to lord during certain conditions. After the black death, the number of peasants had decreased significantly, and the lords were faced with new problems. One of these problems include the peasants wanting more freedom from the control over the lords, but this does not have to do with the activity.

Next, each group took the role of one of the lords or nobles that had control over 1,000 acres of land and 15 peasant families. 30 acres of land is required to feed each peasant family, and 100 acres of land is required to feed me. The rest of the land can be used to produce more food, which brings in an income of 2£ for 30 acres, or for sheep, which brings in an income of 5£ for 150 acres of land. There were two situations in which we were to organize how the peasants would work in order to bring in the highest possible income.

In the first case, we (my group and I) had to use a total of 550 acres of land to support the peasants and ourselves, leaving 450 acres of land for use. We decided to use all 450 acres of land to produce food. This would give me an income of 30£, as all 15 peasants are able to produce 2£ for every 30 acres of land used. All 450 acres of land will be used for this land. This also means that there wouldn’t be enough land to support another peasant. It wouldn’t be economically worthwhile, as with the current plan, I there wouldn’t be enough land to support the peasant.

The second case occurs after the black death. Five of the peasants had died, leaving us with only 10 peasant families. New plans would be needed to support the families and still keep the highest possible income. 400 acres of land would be used to support the peasants and ourselves, leaving 600 acres for use. A set up that would bring in the highest income is to use 300 acres and 2 peasants to take care of sheep for an income of 10£. Another 240 acres will be used by eight peasants to grow food and bring in an income of 16£. The total income will be 26£, with 60 acres of land left over. This means that if a peasant were to move to the estate, I would benefit, because I would have the resources to support the peasant and still have him bring an income of 2£ for growing food. It might even be a good idea to pay a peasant to move, as he would eventually be able to pay back.

There are six concepts that are prominent during this activity; scarcity, allocation, choice, income, incentives, and resources. In this activity, the scarce resources are peasants and land. There are a limited amount of peasants that I can use, and even then, there isn’t enough land to accommodate that much peasants and still sufficiently hold an income. With the subject of the peasants and land, they are also considered to be resources, the land being natural resources, and the  peasants are human resources through labor. The group and I had to make the choices, and allocate, the land to the peasants and the work that they were to do. A steady Income was an important incentive for my group and I to make the choices that we made.

This activity gives the class a more deeper insight into economics, as we aren’t making trivial decisions as who gets chocolate, any more. Instead, we are making decisions for plans that would benefit us greatly.

Advertisements