The Simplified Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith -- Book 3, Chapter 2a: Engrossment of Land and The Discouragement of Agriculture After the Fall of the Roman Empire

Chapter 2a: Engrossment of land -- the discouragement of agriculture after the fall of the roman empire

1 The Western Roman empire was defeated by the Germans and Scythians. 2 This original great engrossing of uncultivated lands might have been but a transitory evil.

3 When land, like movables, is the only means subsistence and enjoyment, the natural law of succession divides it among all the children.

4 Laws frequently continue enforced long after the reasonable circumstances which created them have passed.

5 Entails are the natural consequences of the law of primogeniture. * [only heirs can inherit the estate]

6 When great landed estates were principalities, entails might be reasonable.

7 Great tracts of uncultivated land were engrossed by particular families in this way.

8 "If little improvement was to be expected from such great proprietors, still less was to be hoped for from those who occupied the land under them."

Land Improvement from Slavery

9 But if great improvements are seldom expected from great proprietors, they are the least expected from slaves. 10 The pride of man makes him love to domineer.
Next: Chapter 2b: Farmers