Chapter 2b: Farmers after the fall of the roman empire
A species of farmers known in France currently as Metayers gradually succeeded the ancient slaves.
- They are called Coloni Partiarii in Latin.
- They were so long in disuse in England that I know no English name for them at present.
- The proprietor furnished them with the whole stock needed for cultivating the farm.
- After setting aside what was necessary for keeping up the stock, the produce was divided equally between the proprietor and the farmer.
- The whole stock was returned to the proprietor when the farmer quit or was turned out of the farm.
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.
- Such tenants, being freemen, are capable of acquiring property.
- They have a proportion of the produce of the land.
- They are interested to make the whole produce as great as possible so that their own proportion would be also great.
- A slave who can acquire nothing consults his own ease by making the land produce as little as possible over his own maintenance.
- Slavery was encouraged by the king partly because of this advantage and partly because of his jealousy of the great lords, until slavery became inconvenient.
- That tenure in villanage gradually wore out in most of Europe.
- The time and manner of the abolition of slavery is one of the most obscure points in modern history.
- The Church of Rome claims great merit in it.
- As early as the 12th century, Alexander II published a bull for the general emancipation of slaves.
- But it was more of a pious exhortation than a law which required exact obedience from the faithful.
- Slavery continued almost universally until it was gradually abolished by the joint interests of the proprietor and the sovereign.
- A villain, enfranchised and allowed possess land without his own stock, could only cultivate it with the stock given by the landlord.
- Such person must have been a Metayer.
It could never be the interest even of Metayers to use any of their little stock to improve the land.
- Because the lord who spent nothing would get half of whatever it produced.
- The tithe is 10% of the produce.
- It is a very great hindrance to improvement.
- A tax of 50% must have been an effectual bar to improvement.
- It might be a Metayer's interest to make the land produce as much as possible using the stock furnished by the proprietor.
- But it could never be his interest to mix his own stock with it.
- Metayers still occupy 83% of France.
- The proprietors complain that the Metayers take every opportunity of using the master's cattle in transportation than in cultivation.
- In transportation, they get the whole profits to themselves,
- In cultivation, they share them with their landlord.
- In some parts of Scotland, tenants like Metayers are called steel-bow tenants.
- Chief Baron Gilbert and Doctor Blackstone says those ancient English tenants were more bailiffs of the landlord than farmers and were probably of the same kind.
This kind of tenancy was very slowly succeeded by farmers who cultivated land with their own stock.
- They paid a rent to the landlord.
- When such farmers lease for a number of years, they may find it for their interest to use their capital to improve the farm.
- They may expect to recover it with a large profit before the expiration of the lease.
- The possession by such farmers was extremely precarious for a long time.
- It is still is so in many parts of Europe.
- A new purchaser can legally remove them from their lease before the expiration of their term.
- In England, even the fictitious action of a common recovery can remove them.
- If they were removed illegally by their master's violence, they could seek redress extremely imperfectly.
- It did not always reinstate their possession of the land.
- It gave them damages which never amounted to the real loss.
- Of all the Europe countries, the yeomanry was always most respected in England.
- Ejectment was invented only in the 14th of Henry VII.
- It enabled the tenant to recover damages and possession
- The tenant's claim is not necessarily concluded by the uncertain decision of a single court.
- Ejectment was such an effectual a remedy that, in the modern practice, landlords sue in the name of the tenant, using the writ of ejectment for land possession.
- The landlord seldom uses the writ of right or the writ of entry, which are the actions for a landlord.
- In England the security of the tenant is equal to the security of the proprietor.
- A lease for life of 40 shillings a year is a freehold.
- It entitles the lessee to vote for a member of parliament.
- Most of the yeomanry have this kind of freeholds.
- This makes them respectable to their landlords due to the political consideration given to them.
- I believe only England allows the tenant to build on unleased land, trusting the honour of his landlord not to take advantage of the improvement.
- "Those laws and customs so favourable to the yeomanry have perhaps contributed more to the present grandeur of England than all their boasted regulations of commerce taken together."
The law which secures the longest leases against successors of every kind is peculiar to Great Britain.
- It was introduced into Scotland in 1449 as a law of James II.
- Its beneficial influence, however, was much obstructed by entails.
- The heirs of entail were frequently restrained from giving leases for more than one year.
- A recent act of parliament has somewhat slackened their fetters, though they are still much too narrow.
- In Scotland, no leasehold gives a vote for a member of parliament.
- The yeomanry are less respectable to their landlords than in England.
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.
- In France, it was limited to nine years from the start of the lease.
- It was recently extended to 27 years.
- This period is still too short to encourage the tenant to make important improvements.
- The proprietors of land were anciently the legislators of Europe.
- The laws relating to land were all calculated for what they supposed was the proprietor's interest.
- They imagined that it was for his interest that no lease granted by any of his predecessors should hinder him from enjoying the full value of his land for many years.
- "Avarice and injustice are always short-sighted."
- They did not foresee how much this regulation must obstruct improvement and hurt the real interest of the landlord in the long-run.
Aside from paying the rent, the farmers were anciently bound to perform many services to the landlord.
- These services were seldom specified in the lease nor regulated by any precise rule.
- These services were almost entirely arbitrary
- They subjected the tenant to many vexations.
- In Scotland, the abolition of all services not precisely stipulated in the lease very much improved the condition of their yeomanry within a few years.
The yeomanry were bound to public services which were not less arbitrary than the private ones.
- One of the services is to build and maintain the high roads.
- It still exists everywhere with different degrees of oppression in different countries.
- When the king's troops, household, or officers passed through the countryside, the yeomanry were bound to provide them with horses, carriages, and provisions, at a price regulated by the purveyor.
- I believe Great Britain is the only European monarchy where the oppression of purveyance has been abolished.
- It still exists in France and Germany.
The yeomanry were subject to public taxes which were as irregular and oppressive as those services.
- The ancient lords were extremely unwilling to give any monetary aid to their sovereign.
- They easily allowed him to tax their own tenants.
- They could not foresee how much this affected their own revenue in the end.
- The taille still subsists in France and may serve as an example of those ancient taxes.
- It is a tax on the supposed profits of the farmer, which they estimate by the stock that he has on the farm.
- It is his interest to appear to have as little and employ as little as possible in its cultivation, and none in its improvement.
- Should a French farmer accumulate any stock, the taille will almost prohibit it from ever being employed on the land.
- This tax is supposed to:
- dishonour whoever is subject to it
- degrade such person below the rank of a gentleman and even that of a burgher [bourgeoisie]
- No gentleman or any burgher who has stock, will submit to this degradation.
- Whoever rents lands becomes subject to the taille.
- This tax hinders stock from being used in improving land.
- It drives away other stock from it.
- The ancient tenths and fifteenths, so usual in England in the past were taxes of the same kind as the taille.
20 "Under all these discouragements, little improvement could be expected from the occupiers of land."
- They improved land under great disadvantages.
- The farmer became like a merchant who trades with borrowed money.
- The proprietor, on the other hand, was like a merchant who trades with his own money.
- With equally good conduct, the farmer's stock always improves land more slowly than the merchant's stock, because the loan's large interest eats up the farmer's profits.
- With equally good conduct, the lands cultivated by the farmer are improved more slowly than those cultivated by the proprietor.
- Because the rent payments eat up much of the produce.
- Had the farmer been the proprietor, he might have employed these payments to further improve the land.
- A farmer is inferior to a proprietor.
- Through most of Europe, the yeomanry are regarded as inferior even to tradesmen and mechanics.
- In all of Europe, they are inferior to the great merchants and master manufacturers.
- Men with big stocks seldom quit the superior for an inferior station.
- Even presently in Europe, little stock is likely to go to the improvement of land through farming.
- Of all countries, Great Britain has the most stock going into improvement.
- Some of its great farming stocks have been generally acquired by fanning the trade of farming stocks acquired most slowly.
- After small proprietors, rich and great farmers are the principal improvers in every country.
- There are perhaps more of them in England than in any other European monarchy.
- In the republican governments of Holland and Berne in Switzerland, farmers are not inferior to those of England.
Europe's ancient policy was unfavourable to the improvement and cultivation of land by the proprietor or the farmer because of:
- The universal prohibition of corn exportation without a special licence
- The restraints laid on the inland commerce of corn and almost every other farm produce caused by:
- The absurd laws against engrossers, regrators, and forestallers
- The privileges of fairs and markets
- Ancient Italy was naturally the most fertile European country.
- It was the seat of the greatest empire in the world.
- Its cultivation was obstructed by:
- The prohibition of corn exportation
- Some encouragement to the importation of foreign corn
- Such restraints on the inland commerce of corn with the general prohibition of its exportation must have discouraged the cultivation of less fertile and less favourably circumstanced countries.
Next: Chapter 3: The rise of cities