chapter  1
35 Pages

How the Other Half Lives

Rural Women Encounter England’s Land Rights Revolution
WithEsther Kingston-Mann

During the seventeenth century, the acceleration of tenure transformations imposed on millions of rural men and women to remake their economic and noneconomic lives. However, when England story begins, most of England's population lived as tenants on estates created over the centuries by kings, nobles, and clergy who appropriated their land and awarded themselves extraordinary rights to control and manage the labour of the rural men and women who were living on it. The right to enclose land and claim it as private property was first granted to English landlords by the statutes of Merton and Westminster II. However, both edicts required that sufficient land be left unenclosed to fulfil tenants' common rights. Most people in England lost the rights of access to land that they previously enjoyed. During the enclosure-era, England's leading culture-makers forged an enduring link between private profit-seeking and the cause of human freedom.