Charles I, enclosure and the birth of Capitalism

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat May 24 19:10:50 BST 2014

Are we witnessing the death throes of the British monarchy?

It started thirty six years after the bloodthirsty Knights Templar 
warrior-bankers were disgraced and dissolved, a new order of 26 
'knights' were initiated in 1348 that have dominated the British 
crown ever since. The Order of the Garter consists of two conjoined 
cells, each of thirteen knights that advise and'protect' the monarch 
and heir apparent.
Because of their obsessive secrecy and lack of transparency over the 
centuries those appointed to these knights have become the very 
antithesis of Medieval chivalry, a lethal mixture of yes-men, and 
devious chancers who would sell their own mother to get a seat, and a 
cut of the rent, at the top table.
Nothing could illustrate more clearly the British monarchy's distain 
for their poor subjects than Henry VIII's asset seizure and eviction 
in the 1530s of around ten thousand monks from Britain's monasteries. 
Since the days of Alfred the Great these holy orders had been 
providing a backbone of education and healthcare to the nation, but 
to Henry they represented a kind of Vatican fifth column, daring to 
question the wisdom of his break from Rome to form his independent 
Church of England.
In 1638, with special pleadings from Archbishop Laud, Charles I 
addressed the privatization of land, enclosure, by fining rich 
merchants and parliamentarians who had evicted villagers from 
collectively managed open fields. Only 'freemen' owning land worth 
over 40 shillings a year could vote so the merchants had effectively 
been voting themselves growing land the poor needed to feed themselves.
Charles I, perhaps bravely, perhaps foolishly, tried to buck the 
trend of the creeping privatization of land, but the merchants 
secretly organised against him, launched the English Civil War and he 
lost his head in 1649. The merchant classes were now firmly in power 
and ready to bring their new-fangled capitalism to the world.

Charles I: The Commoners' King - halting then reversing enclosure

Yes... King Charles I was 're-nationalising' newly enclosed land, 
just before the English Civil War broke out.
I present here three accounts, from two different books, of pre-Civil 
War actions by King Charles I to penalise lords of manors, merchants 
and other enclosers. I suggest resentment caused by these 
retrospectivecompositions, or fines, may have been the true reason 
for acrimony, and eventually civil war, between England's feudal and 
merchant classes. It certainly speaks very well for Charles' record 
and was largely a result of his good relationship with Archbishop 
Laud, who was championing the needs of the new landless classes 
within the English government.
After the civil war enclosure was greatly accellerated by a 
landowners parliament, to blight the entire population to the present 
day. If the 'compositions' had not been retrospective the merchant 
class may have put up with them... but this aspect of Charles' new 
anti-depopulation and anti-enclosure fines/laws made the merchant 
class very angry.

<>Extract 1 - 'The 
English Village Community and the Enclosure Movements' - W. E. Tate, 
Victor Gollancz, London, 1967. "From about 1607 to 1636, the 
Government pursued an active anti- enclosure policy"

<>Extract 2 - The English 
Village Community and the Enclosure Movements by W. E. Tate, Victor 
Gollancz, London, 1967 - '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.'

<>Extract 3 - Common Land 
and Inclosure, by E. C. K. Gonner. Macmillan and Co., Limited. St. 
Martin's Street, London. 1912. - 'In 1633-4 we find a proposal that 
all inclosures made since James I. should be thrown back into arable 
on pain of forfeiture, save such as be compounded for. The suggestion 
was not lost sight of, and from 1635 to 1638 compositions were levied 
in respect of depopulations in several counties of which an account 
is fortunately preserved.' - 
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