chapter  7
32 Pages

STATE INTERVENTION AND THE PROBLEMS OF SOCIETY

Contemporary accounts of life under the English and Scottish monarchs had described a society of orders which was essentially static, in which everyone knew their place, and in which social status broadly reflected land and wealth. Population density in the archipelago varied considerably from region to region, however, from under 20 people per square mile around 1600 in parts of Ireland or the Anglo-Scottish border region, to four or five times that level in most of England and Wales. In the more English parts of the east and south and around the larger cities, there was enclosure on a significant scale by the late fifteenth century. The Scottish response anticipated English measures: as early as the 1570s Regent Moray's government granted provost marshals wide powers to control the 'great number of rascal people' impersonating soldiers. In Scotland and Ireland efforts to impose English-style local officials and legislation on regions with different power structures were initially unsuccessful.