Peasants and Farmers

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PEASANTS AND FARMERS

Q1.Explain what the open field system meant to rural people in 18th century in England from the point of view of (a) A rich man (b) A labourer (c) A peasant women.

Ans: Open field system

Before the 18th century in large parts of England the country side was open, it was not partitioned into enclosed lands privately owned by landlords.

Peasants: They cultivated strips of land around the village they lived in.

Mixed quality of land: At the beginning f each year at a public meeting, each villager was allotted a number of strips to cultivate. Usually there strips were of varying quality and generally located in different places, not next to each other. The effort was to ensure that everyone had a mixture of good and bad land.

Common land:

• Beyond mix type of land, lay the common land, all villagers pastured their cows and grazed their sheep.

• All villagers collected fuel wood for fire from common land of the villagers

• All villagers had the right to collect berries and fruits for their food from the common land.

• All villagers fished in the rivers, ponds and hunted rabbits in common forests.

For the poor the common land was essential for survival. It supplemented their meager income, sustained their cattle and helped them tide over bad times when crops failed.

A Rich Farmer:

• He would not benefit from the open field system rather he would be in favours of enclosures.

• The rich farmers began to enclose a large part of these lands for their own use for breeding sheep and then for raising their grain production to increase their income.

• The raising price of wool and grain was sufficient for them to grab more and more of common lands and bring them under enclosures.

• They pressurized the parliament to pass the enclosure act.

A Labourer:

• An open field system held great attraction for the labourers .

• They could not only fetch fuel wood for fire, berries and fruit for his food but could also pasture his cows.

• But then most of his open areas came under the control of rich farmers who enclosed it for their personal use.

• They were deprived of all benefits which he was drawing before.

• They was forced to leave their ancestor place and migrateto nearby urban areas.

Peasant Women:

• With the disappearance of open field system a peasant woman suffered the most

• She could no longer collect fuel wood for fire and berries and fruits for her children to eat.

• It became difficult for her to graze her sheep, goats and cows and supplement her income and food requirements.

Q2.Explain the factors that led to enclosures in England.

Ans .In 19th century enclosures were seen necessary to make long-term investments on land and plan crop rotations to improve the soil.

• Increasing population and increase in demand of food grains, led to enclosures in England.

• Various acts were passed after 1850 to legalize the enclosures.

• The increasing demand for wool made rich farmers to expand wool production to earn more profits

• They started enclosing open fields to provide proper pastures to the sheep.

• Prices of food grain in England skyrocketed encouraging landowners to enclose lands and enlarge the area under grain cultivation.

Q3.Who was captain Swing? What did the name symbolize or represent?

Ans. Captain Swing was a mythical name, used in letters to farmers using threshing machines. But it was a dreadly name .By the time, threshing machines were being introduced in English agriculture, an underground organized resistance developed.

• Threats were issued in the name of captain Swing to land lords who had purchased these machines. They were warned of all consequences if these machines were to be employed on farmers displacing labour.

Q4.Why were threshing machines opposed by the poor in England? Why...
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