16Th Century English Economics Essay Research Paper

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16Th Century English Economics Essay, Research Paper Like Plato, almost 2000 years before him, Thomas More was not satisfied with the political and economic structure of the society that he lived in. More found that his society, 16th century England, was a corrupt society that favored the few and oppressed the many. More, like Plato who wrote the Republic, also wrote a political commentary about his time entitled “Utopia”. In Utopia, More explains the relative idiocy of killing a thief for stealing when because of the economic situation of the time many peasants were driven from their homes by the rich landowners. Contributing factors to this consist of the “Black Death” of almost 150 years before and a change in agriculture leading to a rise in poverty as More

illustrates in Utopia. The “Black Death” was a horrible plague that wiped out about two thirds of the population of Europe between the years of 1347-1350. The consequences that followed and the turmoil that affected most of Europe was not fully recovered from until about the sixteenth century. The “Black Death” swept through Europe killing millions of people. It wiped out towns, depopulated cities and left Europe in turmoil. The crops that were in the land died because no one was able to tend the fields and starvation was great during the next few years as food was scarce and the price rose because of it. One good thing that did occur was a rise in the wages of the working class people, namely the peasants. Such a great loss of people destroyed many small towns and

villages and depopulated the cities. The lords consequently received more land when a tenant died without anyone to whom to pass the family farm. Looking for laborers to work the land proved to be a fairly large problem, because of the diminished labor force. Labor was difficult to find and what labor that could be found was more expensive. This was because the peasants realized that they were more in demand and therefore could charge more for their services than they could when the labor force was large. Food, which was more expensive before the “Black Death”, decreased in price because less food was required to feed the population. Manufactured goods rose in price as well as craftsmen were able to charge more for their goods because there was less competition for them. The

decrease in farm good prices and the subsequent rise in farm worker wages and manufactured goods had many landowners looking for a different way of getting money rather than through conventional farming. The noble landowners after the “Black Death” did not make as much capital. They needed to figure out a way to make more profit on less merchandise and reduce the number of workers in the fields to reduce their costs. They turned to sheep farming. Wool was the main textile with which one produced clothing. By turning to sheep farming, sheep being the sole producers of wool, and gaining a monopoly on wool, the landowners were able to sell wool for a rather large price to other people in the land. More states that sheep are: “man-eaters. Fields, houses, towns everything goes

down their throats”. Unlike fields of grain, sheep need few people to attend them as long as there is a fence around them. They don’t need too many people watching over them to make sure that they do not run away. What began to happen in England at the time is that landowners would evict the peasants from their fields and turn their land and houses into fields in which he could tend his sheep. This had the result of forcing many peasants from the farms into the large cities and into poverty. When they were forced to leave their homes the peasants got very little for their land. What they did have was usually not worth very much so they did not have enough money to start again. This had the result of many of the peasants being forced into the streets of the cities as they