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Society Notes

History Notes > History of the British Isles IV: 1500-1700 Notes

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Trends Status Hierarchy Nobility The 'Middling Sort' Yeomen The Common People

Trends??????????????Transition from feudalism to capitalism Changes in land distribution -> social mobility Rise of the 'middling sort' Differentiation between 'sorts' or classes - yet also a vertical hierarchy Court v. country Decline of the monarchy and aristocracy -> gentry Inflation of honours Price revolution Growth of larger farms Transition from owning men to owning things Not much at war with others - younger sons are forced into 'inferior' occupations Much more of a fractured elite by 1700 - new v. old Transition towards the new elite in London and at court Greater ease in changing class - price rises and trade expansion Gregory King 1688 - one of first censuses Large scale internal migration - more common to move from birthplace than to stay Inequality was more marked in the town - migrant rural poor and professionals - many towns 2/3 wealth held by 6-7% population Growing exclusiveness of town guilds - raised entry fees, oligarchic aspirations, 'residential zoning' 'Educational revolution' - increase in provision and quality 1560-1640 (Sharpe) Wrightson - b y 1660 was a 'deep social cleavage' between respectable and plebeian, 'the better sort' and the mass of the labouring poor - 'clusters' and 'social polarisation' Better than Continent - escaped subsistence crises and development of poor relief stopped such polarisation Large transfers of land after 1540 - heightened rapidity of land changing hands Much more difficult after 1640 Permeability between ranks Degrees -> sorts Constant fear of dearth - threat to social order yet could lead to maintenance of it - strengthen values Concepts of order and subordination e.g. landlord and tenant, master and servant etc. Decline of neighbourliness in dearth - fear of collective disorder Stone - socio-political breakdown of 1640-42 had 3 main causes - long term breakdown in respect for monarch, failure of CofE to remove Catholicism and aristocracy lost hold on nation and let it fall into hands of the squirearchy - permanently alienated many resources in land

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