Did enclosure benefit the rich at the expense of the poor?
In the eighteenth century a major change in farming came about, it was called “enclosures.” Rich farmers came up with this new idea which would finish with a number of rights farmers in general had, such us common land and the open field system. Being able to enclosed an area of land meant that the owner had a significantly large land and the money to fence it. This new system brought a number of changes which were beneficial for some farmers and detrimental for others.
The farmers who managed to enclose their land could have a number of benefits. First of all, the demand for their products increased significantly and that was reflected on their profit. Furthermore, they also had the possibility to charge higher rents to their tenant farmers which meant even a higher income for landowners with enclosures. Tenants were also benefited by this new system since they could easily get loans from the banks to get new machinery to use the new farming methods and this way they got a high income too. Even some labourers took advantage of this new system because some of them got a new house in the enclosed land.
Unfortunately not everybody benefitted from enclosures, there were also a few disadvantages for some of the farmers. For example; many small holders, who were also entitled to some of the land, were forced to sell because they couldn’t afford the cost of enclosing their land. This way they had to become labourers and work for richer farmers. This new system also supposed the loss of some rights such as the right to open fields and common land. Losing these rights was devastating for many people.
The establishment of enclosures was a huge change for the farming industry. It polarised the system making rich farmers richer and poor farmers completly dependant. The benefits were mainly for those who were rich enough to enclose their land, but it had negative effects for most small holders and poor...
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