Saturday, March 10, 2007

Did Ewe Know: When Sheep Ruled the World

Did Ewe Know?

In the late 16th Century wool was the leading export for England. This meant landlords would rather toss their tenants out on the street in order to raise sheep as it was far more profitable than collecting rent.  In fact, Parliament wanted to protect their leading wool export so badly that it passed the "Wool Act" -- a law that forbid wool exports from the new American colonies and limited production in Ireland!

Homelessness, when combined with Henry VIII stripping the Catholic church of it's holdings, aided to the rise of severe poverty in England.  Since the Church was unable to assist the many destitute as it had in the past, and because housing was in short supply due to sheep being valued more than human life, this forced the government to codify the first "Poor Law of 1601" -- the beginning of governments coming to the aid of their people in despair.

* Facts from Life Millennium; 100 of the Most Important Events & People of the Past 1000 Years. Published in 1998

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I learn something new here all the time, Dee!

I loved another item you posted (a year or so ago) about how valuable lace was, and the extremes people would go to smuggle it out.