A Medieval Life

Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
5. In such cases, their desperate expedients were her timely opportunities.

This statement, which appears at the end of Chapter 7, “An Economy of Makeshifts,” fleshes out an important aspect of Cecilia’s character: her hardheartedness in profiting from others’ misfortunes. The economy in which Cecilia lived, especially during the Great Famine when she launched her career in landholding, was an economy of scarcity. The overabundance of people combined with the shortage of resources drove many peasants to sell their land in order to buy food they could not grow. Land prices decreased, but peasants were forced to sell out of desperation. At this time, Cecilia took advantage of her neighbors’ hard luck in order to amass landholdings. In her land-grabbing endeavor, Cecilia may have shown herself to be somewhat callous and exploitative, which indicates that she was more concerned with ensuring her own economic security than with neighborly goodwill. Whether or not her actions caused resentment among her fellow villagers, Cecilia clearly did right by herself and her family and benefited by seizing the opportunities generated by her neighbors’ “desperate expedients.”