THE NEW AGRIULTURE: THE END OF ENGLISH PEASANTRY

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THE NEW AGRIULTURE: THE END OF ENGLISH PEASANTRY

THE effects of the Tudor failure to cope with the agrarian problem were not immediately visible.

The seventeenth century was remarkable for its lack of spectacular change.

Enclosure went on steadily, but sporadically, still mostly for sheep-farming. Arable farmers were paying more attention to manure; new crops like clover and artificial grasses were introduced by the enterprising into the old crop-rotations.

The practice spread of "drowning" meadows in winter, in order to provide richer grass for cattle.

People were reading books, like Blith's English Improver, about better farming methods.

They were beginning to follow Dutch example, and one big achievement, the partial draining of the Fens in the reigns of James 1 and Charles I, was made possible by Dutch capital and Dutch technicians, beaded by Sir Cornelius Vermuyden.

But for the most part, progress was Slow, and most farmers still clung to traditional methods.

At he end of the seventeenth century people were still living on at "clap" bread (a kind of oatcake), or bread partly made f rye or barley, in many parts of the North and Midlands, and even in East Anglia.

Yet most of the improvements for which the eighteenth century is notable were already known.


Next Step: - Crown Finance

Changing Views

Even before 1700 the attitude of men (that is, of men who mattered in politics, social life and religion) to economic affairs had become very different from that it had been in say 1550.

There is no space here to discuss the exact relations between the growth of Puritanism and the growth of a "capitalist spirit"; one can merely point out that the two growths took place about the same time.

As a recent writer has remarked, "a diarist of the reign of Henry VIII would have hardly thanked God with the same assurance as Pepys for the monthly evidence of his advancing fortune, measured in terms... see: Changing Views


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