HIST 251 - Lecture 13 - A Polarizing Society, 1560-1640
Lecture 13 - A Polarizing Society, 1560-1640
Professor Wrightson reviews the consequences of the economic and population changes discussed in the last lecture. While economic shifts allowed some members of English society, especially members of the gentry and the land-holding classes, to increase their wealth, they also (coupled with an expanding population and price inflation) resulted in the growth of poverty and vagrancy. Professor Wrightson discusses the relative wealth and economic pressures faced by various segments of the early modern population (providing specific examples) and suggests that, while society was becoming increasingly polarized between the poor and the wealthy, there was also a third group, the 'middling sort,' who were expanding in numbers and influence. Professor Wrightson concludes by touching on the rising levels of poverty in the period and government responses to it (culminating in the passage of the Poor Laws), as well as very real human element in these larger social and economic processes.
Slack, Poverty and Policy in Tudor and Stuart England, chapters 3-5