Monday, 3 January 2011
Correspondence on The historywomans article Property and Power: On James Harrington’s 400th Birthday
I am afraid that these assertions about the transfer of land between the nobility and gentry. The peerage in 1601 may have held less land than in 1558 but it still held more than in 1534. By 1641, the much enlarged peerage had far more land in its hands than in 1601. This is true even using Lawrence Stone's highly improbable figures. The English Civil War or Revolution was preceded by a notable shift in landed possessions towards the peerage and by the rise of "aristocratic constitutionalism".
That's an interesting point. The 'rise of the gentry' hypothesis has long been contested. However, I find it significant that Harrington still perceived a shift of property and power towards the gentry and yeomanry. Of course one might wonder how far this perception was influenced by a political agenda.