A history of enclosures
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A History of Enclosures . Beth Nolan. Quick Chart on land area of England. Already enclosed in 1500: 45% Enclosed 1500-1599: 2% Enclosed 1600-1699: 24% Enclosed 1700-1799: 13% Enclosed 1800-1914: 11.4% Commons remaining in 1914: 4.6% Source: Dr. Michael Turner, Parliamentary Enclosures.

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Quick chart on land area of england l.jpg
Quick Chart on land area of England

  • Already enclosed in 1500: 45%

  • Enclosed 1500-1599: 2%

  • Enclosed 1600-1699: 24%

  • Enclosed 1700-1799: 13%

  • Enclosed 1800-1914: 11.4%

  • Commons remaining in 1914: 4.6%

    Source: Dr. Michael Turner, Parliamentary Enclosures


17 th century before l.jpg
17th Century & Before

  • From as early as the 12th century, some farmlands in GB were being enclosed. The process than began to speed up in the 15th and 16th centuries (the Tudor period) as sheep farming grew more profitable than using the land for farming because of the high demand for sheep wool.

  • After about 1529, the increase in demand for wool with the scarcity of tillable land caused rents to rise dramatically, thus, also causing people to become even more distraught. Angry tenants began to illegally destroy enclosures. Beginning with Kett’s Rebellion in 1549, more rebellions such as the Midland Revolt and Newton Rebellion in 1607, began to take over the country.

  • Following the plague’s 6% decrease of Englishmen/women, inflation resulting from the Great Debasement of the 1540s was probably the next largest cause of enclosure. The enclosures followed because the threat of the landowner’s wealth by King Henry VIII’s actions, forced the landowners into becoming more efficient.

  • The English Civil War greatly accelerated enclosures, with parliamentary leaders heavily favoring landowners.

    Source: Wikapedia.com


20 th century l.jpg
20th century

  • The Case of Kenya

    The people of Turkwel River have a system where a committee of elders decides to should be allowed to use the acacia trees growing off the banks, and for how long. Anyone coming into the area that wants to feed their goats must negotiate with the elders, thus overexploitation is avoided.

    In the 1960s and 1970s the Turkana were hit by droughts and enemy tribes. With many people close to starvation, the Kenyan government and UN came into to help. Not realizing their system of commons, and seeing it more as a free-for-all system, they forced the trible to settle down, get rid of most of their animals, and encouraged them to farm. Thus, massive land was transferred from the commons to the state and individuals.

    Source: Monbiot.com


21 st century and beyond l.jpg
21st century and beyond

  • Toll Roads? Are they a form of enclosure?

  • What about the enclosure of the urban commons? In today’s world, enclosure has gone beyond the well known enclosure of the English’s land. Places in China, the U.S., and Thailand are experiencing the enclosure of urban areas where developers are taking common land and turning them into condos.

  • More on the topic of urban enclosures can be found in an article in GeoJournal 2006, by Shin Lee and Chris Webster, titled: Enclosure of the urban commons.


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