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6 The Rise of Capitalist Yeomen and a Capitalist Aristocracy

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Chapter Summary

Christopher Dyer and Bruce Campbell both recognise the role of lords in the transition, particularly their role in the eviction of tenants and the enclosing of villages from the end of the fifteenth century, as is evidenced most clearly in the commission into enclosures in 1517-18. With respect to much of the good recent research on peasant and yeoman accumulations, the author argues that the attribution to Robert Brenner of a simple lord-centred approach to the transition is another unfortunate misreading of his thesis. Brenner's thesis is that capitalism originated in the 'shell' of the developing estates system of landlords in England, but not that it was a top-down imposition solely by the lords. The rise of a capitalist aristocracy and that of a capitalist yeomanry began blindly or unintentionally through the leasing of the demesnes in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.

Keywords: Bruce Campbell; capitalism; capitalist aristocracy; capitalist yeomanry; Christopher Dyer; England; landlords; Robert Brenner



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