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The article argues that the term wastum in the pipe rolls of the 1150s should be taken literally, as the recording of land devastated by warfare. Recent writers on the subject have interpreted the occurrence of 'waste' allowances as a polite fiction covering up resistance to taxation and uncertainty over liabilities. My argument is based on the correlation of 'waste' with known instances of economic disruption, contemporary literal use of the word wastum, the use of other devices in the pipe rolls to deal with disputes over liability, and the form and distribution of the entries themselves.
The Economic History Review © 1991 Economic History Society