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Agricultural EnlightenmentKnowledge, Technology, and Nature, 1750-1840$
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Peter M. Jones

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716075

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716075.001.0001

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The State and Agrarian Reform

The State and Agrarian Reform

(p.32) 2 The State and Agrarian Reform
Agricultural Enlightenment

Peter M. Jones

Oxford University Press

In the second half of the eighteenth century virtually all European governments resorted to a policy of agrarian interventionism. This chapter explains why. It goes on to examine the structural consequences for the rural economy and for those social and political elites which had traditionally appropriated the bulk of the wealth produced from the land. In a survey of the situation across Europe, the reforms that were everywhere envisaged before 1789, if not always implemented, are explored. The impact of the French Revolution on agriculture and agrarian social relations is discussed, as are the ramifications of ‘top-down’ change driven by politics or by international warfare in the rest of Europe. Agricultural reform was often packaged with the abolition of feudalism in central and eastern Europe and, with a few notable exceptions (France, Denmark-Norway), it generally took many decades to accomplish.

Keywords:   government, the State, finance, taxation, war, reform, feudalism, revolution, agriculture, food supply

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