A short, angry history of land.in Britain by Thom Forester

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Jun 18 21:04:21 BST 2020

A short, angry history of land.by Thom Forester

Extracted from PDF download 

Remote production, mass transportation and molopoly, environmental degradation


The economics of Empire.

450 to 1066 - Anglo-Saxon Charters grant land to 
‘lay people’ (commoners), set-up the 
administrative areas that correspond closely to 
our modern parish boundaries. The earliest 
surviving charter of King Hlothhere of Kent was drawn up in AD 670.

1066-7 Norman invasion displaces Anglo-Saxon 
commons/ land ownership model. William the 
Bastard declares that all land, animals and 
people in the country belong to him personally. 
This was as alien to the Isle’s customs as the 
colonial land-grabs were to the First Nations of 
America. Still today, the monarch’s land monopoly 
remains, in theory and practise, a legal reality. 
Land is parcelled up and given as payment to 
Williams forces. We go from a country in 
which >90% of people owned land, to a country of 
landless serfs, themselves owned by foreign lords.

1066-70 The ‘Greenmen’ resist the Norman 
invasion. Wearing camouflage, they run guerilla 
warfare campaigns against the invaders who called 
them the ‘silvatici’ (the men of the woods).

1069–70 the ‘Harrying of the North’, William 
burnt down every building between York and 
Durham, and killed by starvation or sword over 
one hundred thousand people. Many of the largest 
land owners in this country still today proudly 
trace their family tree back to ancestors who were involved in this bloodbath.

1135 – 1154 Civil war during the reign of Stephen 
saw the strength of the regional lords/ barons 
rise relative to the Crown as they established 
political and judicial arenas other than those 
defined by the Crown- creating a degree of 
regionalisation. England's population more than 
doubled during 12th and 13th centuries stressing 
the economically inefficient land monopolies.

1215 Barons forced King John to limit his own 
power by signing Magna Carta which restated 
certain ancient, customary rights. Some of which 
were pre-Norman, and likely echoed back to our 
ancient oral traditions, existing long before the Roman invasion.

1217 Charter of the Forest re-established rights 
for Freemen to access and make use of the Royal Forests without persecution.

1235 - Statute of Merton encouraged landowners to 
convert arable land into pasture, as demand for 
British wool increased. Displacing traditional 
peasant agriculturalists and farmers. Commons Act 
1236 allowed lords to enclose common land. Wool 
was the backbone and driving force of the 
medieval English economy between the late 
thirteenth century and late fifteenth century the 
trade (a primary driver of enclosure) was called 
“the jewel in the realm” or 'half the wealth of 
the kingdom'. Statutes of Westminster 1275/ 85/ 
90- restrict subtenure/ sale of parcels of land 
(a threat to state land monopoly) other than to 
the direct heirs of the landlord. It was prompted 
by certain lords who were dissatisfied with 
increasing amount of subtenures. These 
restrictions gave rise to ‘livery and 
maintenance’ or ‘bastard feudalism’, i.e. the 
retention and control by the nobility of land, 
money, soldiers and servants via salaries, land 
sales and rent. In-effect, this was the start of 
modern wage-slavery, and still works today, to 
ensure the regions remain economically dependent 
on the core, via state subsidised and enforced 
land monopoly to restrict regional economic and thus political power.

Rising European merchant class capitalised on 
mass production of wool being facilitated by displacing agrarian communities.

British wool became very sought after in Europe. 
Increasing demand for British wool, led to more 
mass displacement of peasants–generating an 
landless ‘class’ of urban dependents.

Great Famine 1315 and the Black Death 1348 
killed >1/3 of the population, forcing the landed 
classes to value the productive members of their 
society (the peasants) who grew all the food.

1337-1453, Hundred Year War vs France, financed 
by merchant capital to gain control of the Flemish wool industry and weavers.

1340-1380 purchasing power of rural labourers increased 40%.

1351/ 49 The Labourers Acts were the nobilities 
reaction to the rising bargaining power of 
peasants, they fixed wages to ‘preplague levels’, 
restricted free movement and price-fixed foods.

1377 John of Gaunt imposed a new tax, the Poll (head) Tax.

1381 Peasants Revolt : Kentish rebels joined by 
many townsfolk, entered London. They destroy 
gaols, burned down Savoy Palace (Gaunts home), 
plundered Lambeth Palace, burnt books and 
buildings in the Temple, killed anyone associated 
with the royal government. The following day, 
Richard met the rebels at Mile End and acceded 
their demands, including the abolition of serfdom 
& poll tax (the only promise not reneged soon after)

1400-1409 Owain Glynd r last native Prince of 
Wales (Tywysog Cymru) viewed as a de facto King, 
led the ‘Welsh Revolt’ rapidly gaining control of 
large areas of Wales. Eventually his forces were 
overrun by the English, but despite the large 
rewards offered, Glynd r was never betrayed. His 
death was recorded by his kinsman in the year 
1415, it is said he joined the ranks of King 
Arthur, and awaits the call to return and liberate his people.

1450 - Jack Cade led an army of Kentish peasants 
(described by ‘Shakespeare’ as “the filth and 
scum of Kent”) the rebels persuaded first army 
dispatched to pack up & go home, skilfully evaded 
a second of 15,000 men led by Henry VI, defeated 
third army in battle, killing two of the king’s generals in the process.

1450–1451 John and William Merfold's Uprising 
centred around Sussex, mostly comprised of 
artisans pillaging and killing local gentry and 
clergy. “[The rebels wished] as lollards and 
heretics, to hold everything in common.” – the King's Indictment, 1451

1489 Depopulation Act ‘agaynst pullying doun of 
Tounes’, Kings introduce anti-enclosure acts, due 
to widespread clearances, and the depopulation of 
entire villages. There were to be 11 similar Acts 
& eight commissions of enquiry over next 150 
years. Henry VIII legislates against early cloth 
factories & enclosures, a primary source of 
wealth for the emerging ‘middle class’ of land 
owners, but lacked the strength to fully implement his changes.

1515 Henry VIII orders all pasture be converted 
back to arable in an attempt to reign in fortunes being made by the merchants.

1536 to 1541 - Dissolution of the Monasteries by 
Henry VIII privatising church lands (then 1/5th 
of the land), generating even more landless 
people, wholly dependent on urban wage-slavery.

1549 Kett's anti-enclosure rebels 16,000 strong, 
took Norwich. Kett was 57 years old and one of 
the areas wealthier farmers. Erection of Cottages 
Act 1588 “against erecting and maintaining of 
Cottages" by people with less than four acres of 
freehold land. Prevent people building homes, 
farming remaining common land There is a 
surprising amount of continuity, in ‘open field 
systems’ from the fourth millennium BC up until 
the Norman invasion. Communal land management 
originated centuries, perhaps millennia before 
the Anglo-Saxon era. In Anglo-Saxon land law or 
‘folkland’, as it was called, land was held in 
allodial title by the group, individual ownership 
did occur but it was limited to ensure the needs of the group were met.

1607 the agrarian changes (depopulation, 
enclosure) in the Midlands had produced mass armed revolts of the peasantry.

1607 to 1636, Government pursued an active 
anti-enclosure policy. Charles I, the ‘Commoners' 
King’ was ‘re-commoning’ lands enclosed by lords 
and merchants, just before Civil War.

1620 Sir Edward Coke ‘greatest of English 
judges’, and a keen opponent of enclosure, 
declared depopulation against the laws of the 
realm ‘the encloser who kept a shepherd and dog 
in place of a flourishing village community was 
hateful to God and man.’ Ethnically cleansing 
‘peasants’ is a clear violation of our ancient 
Common Law of Tort which is ‘cause no injury, harm or loss’

1626–1632 The Western Rising was a series of 
riots in the Dean and other Forests against disafforestation of royal forests

“In 1633-4 we find a proposal that all inclosures 
made since James I. should be thrown back into 
arable on pain of forfeiture” Enclosers still 
prosecuted in the Star Chamber as late as 1639.

1638 in the Forest of Dean “The deer were to be 
disposed of, as demoralizing the inhabitants and 
injuring the young wood; the commissioners 
recommended ejecting the cottagers who had 
established themselves in the Forest, as often 
before, in defiance of authority, and who 
numbered upwards of 2,000, occupying 589 
cottages, besides 1,798 small enclosures 
containing 1,385 acres. As to defraying the cost 
of executing the above works, the commissioners 
recommended the sale of about 440 acres of 
detached Crown land adjoining the Forest” Charles 
I gave a short break in enclosures, he’s then 
beheaded. Post civil war enclosures accelerated 
by a largely landowning Parliament, blighting our 
entire population to this present day.

1642-1651 English Civil War, old feudal v.s. merchant powers.

1649 mass-redistribution, Cromwell sells 1,677 Royalist Estates

1649 Gerrard Winstanley with a peasant army, 
called the ‘True Levellers’ (later diggers) 
declaim the Earth a Common Treasury. The Diggers 
print radical protestant literature, aimed at 
reforming the social order with an agrarian 
lifestyle based on the creation of small 
egalitarian, self-sufficient rural communities, 
an ecological interrelationship between humans 
and nature, "true freedom lies where a man 
receives his nourishment and preservation, and 
that is in the use of the Earth."

1659, Forest riots ‘probably excited by the 
efforts which the Government had recently made 
for the re-afforesting of 18,000 acres; to effect 
which 400 cabins of poor people, living upon the 
waste, and destroying the wood and timber, were 
thrown down.’ English nationalist discourse in 
the mid-17th century spoke of throwing off the 
‘Norman yoke’ - i.e. feudalism, land monopoly.

1671 Game Act made it illegal to hunt wild 
animals, considered a common right since time 
immemorial. Also illegal for farmers to protect 
crops from rabbits, other animals. Starvation or 
crime. Around now modern banking arrived in 
England from Holland leading to a century of boom 
and bust bubbles, expensive wars in which banking 
families made huge profits funding both sides.

1680 in the FOD “there were remaining about 30 
cabins, in several parts of the Forest, inhabited 
by about 100 poor people, (The Crown) had taken 
care to demolish the said cabins, and the 
enclosures about them.” These were not the Forest 
“free miners”, although “they had been born in 
it, and never lived elsewhere,” but as 
“cabiners,” who had to work seven years in the 
pits before they could become “free.” 
Freedom=Slavery. Glorious Revolution of 1688 
leading to the Bill of Rights 1689.

1700-1850 Parliamentary Enclosures, no longer 
held back by sections of the Church, nor the 
power of Monarchs- enclosures increase 
exponentially in speed and size, urban slums grow too.

By 1700 half all arable lands enclosed, by 1815 
nearly all farm land was enclosed, hunting, 
grazing, gleaning rights all but lost.

 From 1750 to 1820 desperate poachers were ‘hanged en-mass’

1790-1830 a third of rural population migrates to 
urban slums. Where they are put to work in 
factories, workhouses called by Blake the 
“Satanic Mills” of modernity, i.e. ‘Industrial Revolution’.

1788 Mr. Miles Hartland, 
assistant-deputy-surveyor stated to the Dean 
Forest Commissioners, “cottages and encroachments 
in the Forest have nearly doubled within the last forty years.”

1811 – 1816 Concerned that machines would replace 
their highskill labour, the Luddites smash 
machinery, threaten industrialist. Luddites were 
not anti technology, they were pro-workers 
rights. Early 1800’s Industrialist Robert Owen 
talks of a ‘moral rebirth’ and sets about 
improving the living conditions of his workers.

1800-1850 Highland Clearances led to the 
displacement of up to 500,000 Highland peasants 
and crofters, tens of thousands of which died in 
the early-mid the 19th century, to be replaced by 
sheep. A member of the British Aristocracy noted 
‘It is time to make way for the grand-improvement of mutton over man.’

1808 Dean Forest Timber Act 1814-1816 11,000 acres enclosed

1831, Warren James with 100 Foresters, demolished 
enclosures at Park Hill, between Parkend and 
Bream. 50 unarmed Crown Officers were powerless 
to intervene. Soon a party of 50 soldiers arrived 
from Monmouth, but by now the number of Foresters 
had grown to around 2000 and the soldiers 
returned to barracks. squadron of heavily armed 
soldiers arrived from Doncaster and the day 
after, another 180 infantrymen from Plymouth 
James was sentenced to death, later transportation to Tasmania.

1845 - 1852 Irish Potato ‘Famine’, as British 
troops seized foods, to be exported at gun-point 
leaving the Irish population to starve.

1845 and 1849: 616 major landlords owned 95% of 
the British Isles and rented marginal lands to land-workers (peasants).

1849 Forest of Dean ‘a general feeling prevailed 
against the deer, on the ground of their 
demoralising influence as an inducement to 
poaching, and all were ordered to be destroyed, 
there being perhaps 150 bucks, 300 does. “if once 
men begin to poach, we can never reckon upon 
their working afterwards.” Mr. Nicholson’s 
statement before Lord Duncan’s Committee

1872 the British Government published ‘The Return 
of the Owners of Land’, only the second audit of 
land to have taken place in British history, the 
other being the Domesday book. After 2 years of 
gathering all the information the returns found 
that 1 million people owned freeholds, about 5% 
of the population. 10 Dukes owned over 100,000 
acres each with the Duke of Sutherland owning 
1,350,000 acres, 1/50th of the entire country. 
Return of Owners of Land, confirmed that 0.6 per 
cent of the population owned 98.5% of the land. 
Half of Britain was owned by 0.06% of the 
population. Findings still well hidden till this day.

Late 1800 industrialists build villages for 
workers, in anticipation of higher productivity. 
Strict, religious ‘rules’ concerning drinking, 
dancing, singing or fraternising with opposite sex were common.

Late 1800s - early 1900s land reforms start 
making headway, allotment acts, numerous attempts 
to introduce a land value tax- to return tax 
burden to large land owners. Landowners fear land 
may soon become a liability, so they 
sell >1/2million acres in a short space of time- 
though mostly to other large landowners.

1899 Commons Act permits district councils, 
national park authorities to manage commons for ‘exercise and recreation’.

1900-1946 ¼ of a billion Europeans die from war, 
famine or as a result of war. Enables land-grabbing on an unprecedented scale.

1920-47 Plotlands were the first chance for 
workers to own land and build dwellings on it – 
they lead to the invention of Planning Laws to 
prevent poor people building houses in the countryside.

1925 Law of Property Act s.193 gave the right of 
the public to "air and exercise" on Metropolitan 
commons, but not rural commons.

1925 Land registry begins, to-date about 50% of land registered.

1930’s ‘Green Revolution’, a euphemism for the 
petrochemical based agriculture of the (post-)war 
period, has succeeded only in finding and 
expanding new ‘markets’ for the petrochemical 
corporations who became incredibly wealthy and 
politically influential by selling fuel & 
chemical weapons during the wars. In fact, many 
of the insecticides and herbicides sprayed on our 
foods today are modified or sometimes even just 
‘rebranded’ chemicals originally designed as 
weapons of war. Of course, the exact same 
chemical corporations also manufacture and sell 
pharmaceutical drugs, which make additional 
revenue ‘treating’ the ‘diseases of civilisation’ 
which so often result from exposure to these 
chemical. As the head of I.G. Farben infamously 
 “we intend to make the human-body, our 
market place.” Currently more than 70 per cent of 
UK land is owned by fewer than two per cent of 
the population. Much of which is directly 
traceable to Guillaume (William) the Bastard/ 
Conqueror whose 22nd great-granddaughter sits 
upon the ‘English’ throne still today. Meanwhile, 
Britain’s 16.8 million homeowners account for 
barely 4 per cent of the land, about the same as 
that owned by the Forestry Commission. Today, 
Britain has the second most unequal distribution 
of land ownership on Earth, after Brazil.

1962 start of the European Union’s Common 
Agricultural Policy (CAP), largest political 
bribery structure ever conceived by man.

1981, The Foresters won an exemption from 
Forestry Act’s land sales. Then MP Paul Marland 
quickly changed his mind about supporting the 
sale saying... “Today’s Forester is of the same 
independent mind and rugged character as were his 
forefathers. It is our duty to preserve his 
ancient rights and traditions”. Take note!

1986 Inheritance taxes finish off remaining 
Anglo-Norman landed gentry, well, those not 
already in-bed with ‘globalist’ financiers.

1996, 500 ‘The Land is Ours’ activists occupied 
13 acres of derelict land on the banks of the River Thames in Wandsworth.

In 1999, the British activist group ‘The Land is 
Ours’ celebrated the Digger movement's 350th 
anniversary with a march and reoccupation of 
Saint George's Hill, site of the first Digger 
colony. CROW Act 2000 recognised ‘freedom to roam’ on common land.

2008, first low-impact development granted 
planning permission to Tony Wrench & ‘that 
round-house’, after attempted eviction failed.

2009, nearly a hundred activists converged on a 
piece of derelict land at Kew Bridge in south 
west London to create an ‘eco-village’.

2010 HOOF successfully fought nationwide forest 
sell-off from public bodies bill, leading to the 
government backing down and setting up the 
Independent Panel of Forestry, which concluded that, “

2012 Wilderness Centre reopened in Spring, 
Yorkley Court’s ‘disorderly settlement’ begins in the Autumn of that year.

2012 “Runnymede Eco-Village started by ‘the 
Diggers 2012’ who are modelled after Gerald 
Winstanley’ Diggers of 1649. Successes of 
Low-impact development planning policy in Wales, 
under the ‘One Planet Development’ scheme -the 
flagship project is Lammas eco-village in 
Pembrokeshire. Oxford University produces a DNA 
map of Britian which reveals that “most people in 
Great Britian still live in the tribal teritories 
which existed over 1000 years ago.” Geneticist 
Professor Sir Walter Bodmer of Oxford University 
said: “What it shows is the extraordinary 
stability of the British population. Britain hasn’t changed much since 600AD.

The law locks up the man or woman,

Who steals the goose off the common,

But leaves the greater villain loose,

Who steals the common from the goose.

~ Unknown Poet.

“I have persecuted the natives of England beyond 
all reason. Whether gentle or simple I have 
cruelly oppressed them; many I unjustly 
disinherited; innumerable multitudes perished 
through me by famine or the sword

I fell on the 
English of the northern shires like a ravenous 
lion. I commanded their houses and corn, with all 
their implements and chattels, to be burnt 
without distinction, and great herds of cattle 
and beasts of burden to be butchered whenever 
they are found. In this way I took revenge on 
multitudes of both sexes by subjecting them to 
the calamity of a cruel famine, and so became a 
barbarous murderer of many thousands, both young 
and old, of that fine race of people. Having 
gained the throne of that kingdom by so many 
crimes I dare not leave it to anyone but God.” 
William the Bastard's death bed confession 
according to Ordericus Vitalis c AD 1130

“Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours. Free 
as Spring clouds and wild as summer flowers is 
faded all – a hope that blossomed free. And haft 
been once no more shall ever be. Inclosure came 
and trampled on the grave Of labour’s rights and 
left the poor a slave.” ~ John Clare (1793 – 1864)

"The power of enclosing land and owning property 
was brought into the creation by your ancestors 
by the sword; which first did murder their fellow 
creatures, men, and after plunder or steal away 
their land, and left this land successively to 
you, their children. And therefore, though you 
did not kill or thieve, yet you hold that cursed 
thing in your hand by the power of the sword; and 
so you justify the wicked deeds of your fathers, 
and that sin of your fathers shall be visited 
upon the head of you and your children to the 
third and fourth generation, and longer too, till 
your bloody and thieving power be rooted out of 
the land." A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England:

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