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Statute of Labourers
(1351)

Whereas, to curb the malice of servants who after the pestilence were idle and unwilling to serve without securing excessive wages, it was recently ordained by our lord the king, with the assent of the prelates, nobles, and other men of his council, that such servants, both men and women, should be bound to serve in return for the salaries and wages that were customary in those places where they were obligated to serve during the twentieth year of the reign of our said lord the king, that is to say, five or six years earlier; and whereas the same servants, on refusing to serve in any manner, were to be punished by imprisonment of their bodies, as is more clearly set forth in the same ordinance ...; and whereas our lord the king has now, by the petition of the commons in this present parliament, been given to understand that the said servants have no regard for the said ordinance, but, to suit their ease and their selfish desires, refrain from serving the lords or other men unless they receive double or triple that which they were accustomed to have in the said twentieth year and earlier, to the great damage of the lords and the impoverishment of all men of the said commons, who now pray for remedy of these matters: therefore in the same parliament, by the assent of the prelates, earls, barons, and the other lords, and of the same commons there assembled, the following measures are ordained and established to curb the malice of the said servants....
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