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How important were farming regions in determining allegiance in the English Civil War - Essay Example

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Farming was of great importance in determining allegiance in the English Civil War. Farming regions growing impact on the nation was the most obvious feature of internal development. At that time, fixation with foreign trade has resulted more from the fact that the records are there, in the customs figures, than from its intrinsic importance…
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How important were farming regions in determining allegiance in the English Civil War
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Download file to see previous pages Even in Jacobean London half the aldermen, the merchant princes, were domestic traders. And in contrast to the faltering export trade, the internal economy was not only diversifying but growing considerably (T. Wilson Hayes, pg 115).
London was not the sole 'engine of growth', but farming regions impact the most obvious feature of internal development. The Newcastle region was by no means alone in its integration into an increasingly national economy. The costs and delays of inland transport, especially by road, meant that pastoral regions still grew grain for bread and beer. Outlying upland counties periodically had difficulty in sending taxes to London, especially in winter, since so little traffic went that way, and cross-country contacts by road were even more difficult - indeed, the average price of wheat in Devon late in the dearth year of 1631 was 50 per cent higher than in neighboring Dorset. Nevertheless, growing specialization in agriculture accounts for the fame of Cheshire cheese and Worcestershire apples. Transport ties to London were sufficiently developed for John Taylor's Carrier's Cosmography in 1637 to give details of carriers linking the capital with all regions. By the 1630s regular stage coaches linked London with major towns in the southeast and Midlands, and by the 1650s Edinburgh and most major provincial cities had been drawn into the coaching network. More substantial connections appeared by mid-century, as inns along the scarp slope separating the Severn and Thames valleys allowed traders to join the hinterlands of Bristol and London.
The growth of London and the forging of a national economy were both cause and effect of developments in both agriculture. In agriculture the gradual spread of new techniques was symbolized by a new vogue in handbooks, such as Walter Blith's The English Improver (1649). As the market expanded more attention was given to the crops and farming practices best suited to local soils: the growing popularity of 'convertible' or 'up-and-down' husbandry, alternating periods of arable and pasture, is evident across much of lowland England. More striking still is the way many farmers, small as well as large, converted to new cash crops like madder and woad for dye, to tobacco in the Severn valley, as well as to market gardening around towns (Mark Stoyle, 1994). Although the full impact of the new crops was only to be felt after mid-century, when slackening demand encouraged farmers to raise productivity, England slowly outstripped much of the rest of Europe in its ability to feed and employ a growing population. Starvation in the crisis of 1623 was limited to the northwest; and thereafter, despite appalling hardship in the later 1640s, famine seems to have been more or less eliminated.
The prevalence of domestic production in textiles, in leather-working, in most branches of the metal industry, makes it impossible to measure economic distress. Cost-of-living figures measure prices in the market. Much of the population was engaged in both agriculture and industry: the small farmer whose wife and servant did some subsidiary spinning or stocking-knitting, the artisan miner with a small plot of land attached to his cottage, even Norwich laborers who did harvest-work in nearby fields in the 1630s, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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