Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Was Charles I the ‘Commoners' King’?

 Charles I put a halt to the enclosure movement, in which peasants were forced off their land by wealthy people who wished to raise more sheep. The King fined such landowners who drove their tenants off their land. From The Land is Ours:

If the reign in its social and agrarian policy may be judged solely from the number of anti-enclosure commissions set up, then undoubtedly King Charles I is the one English monarch of outstanding importance as an agrarian reformer. How far his policy was due to genuine disinterested love of the poor, and how far it followed from the more sordid motive of a desire to extort fines from offenders, it is difficult to say. But even the most unsympathetic critic must allow a good deal of honest benevolence to his minister Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and some measure of it to his master. On the whole it is perhaps not too much to say that for a short time after the commissions issued in 1632, 1635, and 1636, Star Chamber dealt fairly effectively with offenders. The lack of ultimate success of this last governmental attempt to stem the tide of enclosure was due, no doubt, partly to the mixture of motives on the part of its proponents. Still more its failure is to be attributed to the fact that again the local administrators, upon whom the Crown depended to implement its policy, were of the very [landed] class which included the worst offenders. A (practising) poacher does not make a very good gamekeeper! (Read more.)


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