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The Agrarian Legislation of the Revolution

  • Christopher Hill

Abstract

The Civil War was more of a class war than orthodox English theory allows. The geographical division of north and west versus south and east is also an economic and social division between the economically backward areas, conducting a relatively self-sufficient economy, and those districts influenced by the demands of the London market, where agriculture and tenurial relations were being commercialized. The adherents of the King were principally the ‘feudal’ landowners of the north and west, and the higher members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, together with their tenants and dependants. In all parts of England, moreover, there were gentlemen who were disturbed by the riots against enclosures, the possibility frequently voiced of a social as well as a political revolution, the ‘appeal to the people’ in the Grand Remonstrance. Parliament drew its strength from the City, the port towns, the ‘progressive’ gentry and yeomen of the southern and eastern counties. Its triumph was determined in the last resort by the support of the big merchant capitalists of London, though immediately by the victories of the New Model Army. In shaping the legislation of the interregnum the ultimate controlling influence was that of merchant capital, though on short-run policy the separate interest of the army carried considerable weight.

Keywords

State Creditor General Sale Crown Land County Committee Private Sale 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Ed. J. G. Fortheringham, The Diplomatic Correspondence of Jean de Monterenl (Scottish History Society, 1898), I, p. 274.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Baillie, Letters and Journals (1775), II, p. 411. Such statements appear to conflict with Tatham’s theory that ‘no deep design existed’, and that ‘the importance of the question was only gradually appreciated’ (E.H.R., XXIII, p. 101).Google Scholar

Notes

  1. 2.
    Ed. F. W. Fairholt, ‘Lord Mayor’s Pageants’, Early English Poetry and Ballads (Percy Society), X (1843), pp. 215, 221.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Ed. T. Heywood, The Moore Rental (Chetham Society, 1847), p. 119; cf. Roger North, Lives of the Norths (1826), I, pp. 34–6.Google Scholar

Notes

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    (J. Warner), Church Lands not to be Sold (1648), pp. 19–20. For further evidence see Fuller, Church History (1655), IV, p. 178; and my Economic Problems of the Church, pp. 6–8, 36 and references there cited.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Whitelocke, op. cit., II, p. 431; cf. C.J., VI, p. 62; L.J., X, pp. 569–71.Google Scholar
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    Whitelocke, op. cit., II, p. 460. This echoes phrases used by D’Ewes in 1640: see his Journal (ed. Notestein), pp. 140, 245, 466.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Whitelocke, op. cit., II, pp. 53, 58.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Whitelocke, op. cit., II, pp. 400–3.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Ed. G. Ornsby, The Correspondence of John Cosin, Part II (Surtees Society, 1872), p. 31; cf. pp. 23–4.Google Scholar

Notes

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    For instance Whitelocke, op. cit., II, p. 107 (Committee appointed to draw up instructions for judges sent on circuit to settle these disputes). See also p. 151 above.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Sir W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1794), II, p. 77.Google Scholar

Notes

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    Ed. J. C. Hodgson, Northumbrian Documents of the 17th and 18th centuries (Surtees Society, 1918), pp. 213–15, 226, 234–8; Clarendon, Life (1759), II, pp. 184–6.Google Scholar

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© Christopher Hill 1997

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  • Christopher Hill

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