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The Agricultural Foundation of the Seventeenth-Century English Oeconomy

The Agricultural Foundation of the Seventeenth-Century English Oeconomy science have limited our appreciation of the importance of the agricultural base of the economy and its instructional and legal components (Cipolla 1980). I focus my analysis on the dominant economic concerns of the vast majority of the population of that day and on the reflective thought that paralleled their concerns. Emphasis must be on the physical realities of early modern agriculture. The best data indicate that, in the sixteenth century, 70 to 90 percent of the population lived on the land. This base of the population pyramid struggled to provide for itself and to supply a material surplus to support the political, military, clerical, and commercial superstructure of the society. In the prologue to his agricultural manual of 1534, Mayster Fitzherbert likened the society to the game of “chesse,” with the pawns equivalent to the yeomanry. A best estimate for England in 1520 is that it took 100 families on the land to support 106 families. This indicates that roughly 94 percent of the population worked in agriculture at that time (Wrigley 1986, 136). By 1800, it is estimated that 100 families on the land could support a total of 138 families, including themselves. This indicates that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Political Economy Duke University Press

The Agricultural Foundation of the Seventeenth-Century English Oeconomy

History of Political Economy , Volume 35 (Suppl 1) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0018-2702
eISSN
1527-1919
DOI
10.1215/00182702-35-Suppl_1-74
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

science have limited our appreciation of the importance of the agricultural base of the economy and its instructional and legal components (Cipolla 1980). I focus my analysis on the dominant economic concerns of the vast majority of the population of that day and on the reflective thought that paralleled their concerns. Emphasis must be on the physical realities of early modern agriculture. The best data indicate that, in the sixteenth century, 70 to 90 percent of the population lived on the land. This base of the population pyramid struggled to provide for itself and to supply a material surplus to support the political, military, clerical, and commercial superstructure of the society. In the prologue to his agricultural manual of 1534, Mayster Fitzherbert likened the society to the game of “chesse,” with the pawns equivalent to the yeomanry. A best estimate for England in 1520 is that it took 100 families on the land to support 106 families. This indicates that roughly 94 percent of the population worked in agriculture at that time (Wrigley 1986, 136). By 1800, it is estimated that 100 families on the land could support a total of 138 families, including themselves. This indicates that

Journal

History of Political EconomyDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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