The Simplified Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith -- Book 3, Chapter 2b: The Discouragement of Agriculture After the Fall of the Roman Empire -- Farmers

Chapter 2b: Farmers after the fall of the roman empire

11 A species of farmers known in France currently as Metayers gradually succeeded the ancient slaves.

12 Land occupied by such tenants is cultivated at the expence of the proprietor in the same way as when it was occupied by slaves, but with one very essential difference.

13 It could never be the interest even of Metayers to use any of their little stock to improve the land. 14 This kind of tenancy was very slowly succeeded by farmers who cultivated land with their own stock. 15 The law which secures the longest leases against successors of every kind is peculiar to Great Britain. 16 In other parts of Europe, after it was found convenient to secure tenants against heirs and purchasers, the term of their security was limited to a very short period. 17 Aside from paying the rent, the farmers were anciently bound to perform many services to the landlord. 18 The yeomanry were bound to public services which were not less arbitrary than the private ones. 19 The yeomanry were subject to public taxes which were as irregular and oppressive as those services.

20 "Under all these discouragements, little improvement could be expected from the occupiers of land."

21 Europe's ancient policy was unfavourable to the improvement and cultivation of land by the proprietor or the farmer because of:
  1. The universal prohibition of corn exportation without a special licence
  2. The restraints laid on the inland commerce of corn and almost every other farm produce caused by:
    1. The absurd laws against engrossers, regrators, and forestallers
    2. The privileges of fairs and markets

Next: Chapter 3: The rise of cities