THE ENCLOSURES

 

Mind the use of liking words.

 

In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Black Death killed about one third of the population in Europe. About the same time, the first changes in feudal arrangements occurred.

BECAUSE OF / DUE TO / OWING TO  the growth of central government, trade and wool exports, large scale production was needed.  INDEED / AS A MATTER OF FACT the landlords started increasing the areas under cultivation and there was a demand for more labour services by poor peasants. The great landowners took up to renting plots of lands and made peasants work on their own lands TO / SO AS TO / IN ORDER TO increase their production.  ACTUALLY, after the Great Plague, the agriculture was totally disorganized and prices went up.   CONSEQUENTLY / AS A CONSEQUENCE the system of rents became widespread and the first enclosures were imposed.

The sixteenth century was a prosperous period in England, HENCE the phrase “merry England” which refers to this period. Most farmers rented a plot of land from large landowners and worked several times a week as farm labourers for the rich squires.  SINCE / AS / BECAUSE they were poor and had large families to feed, these labourers often had a few animals that were allowed to graze on common lands in the villages.  BESIDES / MOREOVER, the Church, which was rich, applied the Christian principles of charity, which benefited the poor.   HOWEVER / YET two factors broke up this prosperity. After the Reformation the dissolution of monasteries left many free lands that were taken up by aristocrats.  AS A RESULT / CONSEQUENTLY / THEREFORE county families became increasingly important and the land was in the hands of a few powerful aristocratic families.  DUE TO / ON ACCOUNT OF / BECAUSE OF a great demand for wool, prices increased SO THAT landowners decided to develop sheep farming.   PROVIDED they could replace agriculture by sheep farming,  landlords could INDEED become rich quickly.     THUS / THEREFORE they transformed their arable lands into sheep farming lands.  AS A CONSEQUENCE / AS A RESULT / CONSEQUENTLY small scale farming tended to disappear and the system of enclosures became the rule.

Landowners started to enclose their lands with hedges or fences to put the sheep in.  IN ORDER TO get more land, landlords increased the price of the rents.  SINCE / AS / BECAUSE they could no longer pay the high rents many poor labourers had to leave. The poorest could no longer have pastures for their animals and lost an important part of their subsistence. Some were evicted by the powerful barons.   IN SPITE of resistance and rebellions more and more poor farmers were dispossessed and lost their lands, homes and belongings. The common lands disappeared and private property replaced common lands. 

WHEREAS / WHILE agriculture required many hands to harvest the fields, sheep farming needed only a few labourers.  THAT IS WHY  many peasants were landless and jobless. ALTHOUGH / THOUGH / EVEN IF trade was expanding, towns could not provide jobs to those labourers.  EVENTUALLY, AS A RESULT, many landless tenants became vagrants or vagabonds. In the early XVIIth century there were an estimated 80,000 vagabonds in England.  They had no choice but to steal or beg in the streets until they were arrested and jailed. The punitive measures against vagrancy became more and more severe.  Gradually the enclosure system meant general dispossession and was associated with corruption. Enclosures provoked misery, poverty and distress.   BESIDES / WHAT IS MORE / MOREOVER the gap between the rich and the poor widened.

As soon as 1549 peasants started to rebel against the enclosures. They were led by a man called Robert Kett. In some places peasants decided to put the fences down and destroy the hedges. During those riots the King’s troop killed or injured more than 3,000 peasants. The situation was THUS / INDEED / THEREFORE / THENCEFORTH very tense, so much so that the Parliament EVENTUALLY / FINALLY passed a law that aimed at restoring arable lands and FINALLY / EVENTUALLY created a tax on sheep.  HOWEVER as the landlords were the ones who had to implement the law, it was ineffective and IN SPITE OF / DESPITE the effort of the parliament poverty increased dramatically. In 1572 the first Poor Law was enacted. The law stipulated that PROVIDED / AS LONG AS you accepted to work for a local landowner, the parish would provide you a shelter. Those poor laws were extremely unpopular. Poverty was the responsibility of the parish and local people were taxed SO AS TO / IN ORDER TO / TO provide food and shelter for the poor.