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11 An Emerging Capitalist Social-Property Structure

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines developments in Lydd and its region over the course of the sixteenth century, and assesses the extent to which an agrarian capitalist social-property structure and capitalist mentalities had developed by the 1530s as a result of fifteenth and early sixteenth-century enclosure. In the absence of detailed periodical taxation evidence, the author explores proletarianisation and dependency in Lydd through other evidence of social polarisation: increasing poverty and vagrancy, susceptibility to bad harvests, and the criminalisation of the poor. In two or three generations between the 1460s and the 1520s, the social structure of Lydd underwent a marked polarisation that amounted to a social transformation. An agrarian capitalist social-property structure still had a long way to go before it was sharply defined into commercial landlord, capitalist tenant farmer and landless wage labourer.

Keywords: capitalist mentalities; capitalist social-property structure; capitalist tenant farmer; commercial landlord; landless wage labourer; Lydd; proletarianisation



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