Impact of enclosure

  • Enclosure = closing of common land, aimed to create larg profits from landd, South East and Midlands, areas used for sheep farming
  • Most vulnerable = copyhold tenants and landless
  • 1489 - attempts to pass and Act of Parliament to regulate it
  • 1517 - Wolsey issued commission of inquiry into illegal enclosures
  • 1533 - Sheep and Farms Act, number of sheep per farmer = 2400, engrossing allowed on maximum of 2 farms
  • Mar-Nov 1549 - tax on sheep introduced
  • Increased entry fines - economic pressure on tenants
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  • Commonwealth-man = often politicians, clegymen, interllectuals, strong reformer faith
  • Saw enclosure as source of poverty, unemployment and vagrancy
  • 1540s - govt. officials John Hales, writer Robert Crowley and Bishoop of Worcester Hugh Latimer = wrote and preached about need for social reform and need to control enclosure
  • Aim = Godly commonwealth
  • Somerset influenced by them - rebels could hear and understand ideas
  • Poverty cause = population growth
  • 1525-1551 - populations increase from 2.3 million to 3 millon
  • Greater demand for food, increased prices, more pressure on land
  • 1547 Vagrancy Act = punished vagrants
  • Poor harvests in 1545 and 1549 caused food shortage
  • Increase in European wool and cloth market - more sheep farming
  • Debasement of coinage = meets costs of war with France and Scotland in 1540s.
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Impact of Duke of Somerset on enclosures

  • Passes private Parliamentary bill = protected copyholders on own estates from enclosure
  • Appointed John Hales to oversee govt. reform - 1548-9 = tried to introduce bills encouraging socio-economic reform but failed
  • Introduced new tax on sheep in 1549
  • Issue commissions = inquire into illegal enclosures, no power to take them down
  • June 1548 = only 1 commission went ahead in Midlands, included Hales - little evidence
  • Somerset = direct action, ordered ploughing up of them including estates of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and Earl of Warwick
  • April 1549 - new enclosure commissions
  • Alienated gentry and nobility
  • Commons saw Somerset as the 'Good Duke'
  • Isolated from lanted elites and encouraged rebellion
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