It’s a standard part of the historical tale that working hours went up from feudal times to early Industrial Revolution. Working hours have been gently declining since.
Thus we get stories about medieval peasants getting 70 days holiday a year. Err, no, animal owning peasants do not take 70 days off each year. Those that do rapidly become non-animal owning peasants.
They had 70 holy days a year, something rather different.
The problem with the calculations is that they take account only of the market hours worked. For example, Greg Clark did a monograph about hours worked by peasants. But what he was counting was only the work done on the demesne, the Lord’s Land, in lieu of rent. He didn’t include the work the peasant did on his own land.
My contention would be that total working hours went down in the IR, even as paid market working hours went up.
This would explain one of the basic conundrums about the time. Why in buggery did people put up with it? Under the standard storyline living standards didn’t change for 50 odd years or so. Yet working hours went up. That’s really a decline in living standards therefore. But if total hours, including household production, went down while incomes stayed static then that’s an increase in living standards. Thus we have an incentive for people to put up with the Dark Satanic Mills.
I could write the story now. But it would take a couple of years to really build the proof by constructing proper time use studies. And thus the PhD I would do if I ever do get to retire….