Dearth and the English revolution: the harvest crisis of 1647–50

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Abstract

This article reconstructs the nature and scale of dearth in the late 1640s, emphasizing the coincidence of economic distress with constitutional crisis. It reconsiders the parish register evidence for subsistence crisis; examines the responses of central and local government; analyses the role of popular agency, especially though petitioning campaigns, in prompting reluctant magistrates to regulate the grain markets along lines stipulated by the late Elizabethan and early Stuart dearth orders, which had not been proclaimed since 1630; and accordingly suggests that the late 1640s represents a missing link in the historiography of responses to harvest failure.

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