Social Problems and Policy during the Puritan Revolution, 1640-1669

Social Problems and Policy during the Puritan Revolution, 1640-1669

Social Problems and Policy during the Puritan Revolution, 1640-1669

Social Problems and Policy during the Puritan Revolution, 1640-1669

Excerpt

In the following pages an attempt has been made to describe some aspects of social and economic development, and the corresponding changes in social and economic thought, which took place between the years 1640 and 1660. Attention has been concentrated mainly upon social thought and policy, and economic organization has been discussed only in so far as has been necessary to throw light upon this side of the subject.

It is not always recognized that the discredit of the Stuart monarchy and the Commonwealth experiment marked the beginning of a new epoch in social, no less than in political, history. The most obvious fact which emerges from a study of the economic history of the time is that of widespread disorganization and depression in industry and agriculture, and a consequent increase of poverty and unemployment. The reaction of contemporary thought and policy to this environment is unusually interesting and significant. Traditional authority in church and state was weakened, and to a large extent overthrown, and powerful forces were released which had hitherto been denied the opportunity of free development.

The first chapter indicates, by way of introduction, some of the forces which were at work to change traditional conceptions of social expediency, and which, in many cases, came to a head during the Interregnum. As this part of the subject has been treated by other writers, secondary authorities have been freely used, especially in the earlier sections of the chapter. The succeeding chapters discuss in some detail problems connected with industry, agriculture, and poor relief, and in the last chapter a sketch of general social projects has been given. The abundance of material has made it necessary to limit the scope of the work, and, except for incidental references, finance and foreign trade have been deliberately omitted.

A list of the sources which have been used is given below. The manuscripts in the Guildhall Record Office and in the archives of the City Companies have proved especially . . .

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