© Автор: Митрофанов В.П.


Home and foreign historiographic achievements in investigation of agrarian and social life of the XVI – XVII century England make it possible to set new tasks in this respect. One of them is to the relations between the peasantry and the State.

The period under study was marked by strengthening of enclosures. It made the Government of the Tudors introduce the bills limiting enclosures into the Parliament. As result of the parliamentary debates these bills were approved of with same amendments and changes.

Agrarian legislation didn’t ban enclosures as a whole. At the same time, it was aimed at preservation of full-allotment farms. Apart from this, the State made a complex of similar administrative and economic arrangements. The State interference with the agrarian sphere made it possible to keep the main part of the English peasantry as small landowners.

Among the English peasantry there was spread of enclosures by agreement. They contributed to the agrarian conditions for farming development. Such enclosures led to no immediate eviction.

Enclosures with eviction of the peasants from their lands were grounds for numerous open uprisings and the peasantry’s long and stubborn struggle by legal means. The peasants had no doubt about their struggle being just. They tried to protect their lands from land landlords the enclosures.

They sow the State agrarian legislation as to the best advantage for them. They perceived it without the regulations which admitted of certain concessions to the landlords.

In East England there were specific social and economic conditions. From the middle of the XVI century this part of the country was affected by the peasant struggle against the marsh draining companies which were supported by the State. The draining of thousands of marshes acres caused a number of contradictions between the peasantry and the drainers, with the foreigners among them. These contradictions were reduced by the State power for a time. But in the middle of the XVII century during the bourgeois revolution they couldn’t but break through.

The English peasants were a basic for the State military organization. Regular military parades (“musters”) enabled the State to keep an army of reservists, mainly peasants. The State spent no money on the army’s equipment and maintenance because the peasant communities collected money for these purpose themselves.

After the reformation the Anglican Church was part of the State. It influenced social and economic relations between the peasantry and the Church. The reduction in tithes was advantageous for the peasantry.

The Anglican Church itself supported the State agrarian policy as it was interested in keeping the village parishes numerous. In 1630-s the attempts of Archbishop Loud to restore the lost economic position of the Church benefited neither the peasantry nor other social strata of the kingdom. That couldn’t but affect the social forces distribution on the eve of the bourgeois revolution of the middle of the XVII century.

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