This study brings a new perspective to a pivotal debate: the causes of the English Revolution. It pinpoints the economic motives behind the opposition to the crown, and shows their connection to the changing mind-set and political transitions of the time. Distinctively, it identifies the radicalism of the mercantile sphere, and the developing claim of "freedom of trade," the basis on which parliament challenged the king’s fiscal prerogative. Freedom of trade was associated with rights of consent, which were asserted as a guarantee of economic interests, and as a political principle. This informed the constitutional changes pushed through by parliament early in 1641, establishing freedom of trade by parliamentary control of the customs, and giving the assembly an automatic place at the center of affairs, the first requirement of representative government. Crucially, it was not the crown but parliament that appropriated the state interest, through an independent definition of national priorities. As England coalesced into a political and commercial unit, the open and communal patterns of medieval times were overlaid. The land itself came to be perceived and used in a different way. Freedom of trade had an agrarian aspect. An extended class of gentry and yeomanry occupied consolidated farms, displacing the smallholders from the common lands. With intensified marketing, the old moral restraints on trade and property died away. A more exploitative ethic undermined the balance of relationship with the land. The book makes an original connection between the English Revolution and the processes of environmental change.

chapter |14 pages


The Changing of the Open, Communal Land into a National, Commercial Land, and the Neglect of Economic Effects. Is the Environment History?

part 1|99 pages

The Close of the Universal World of Medieval England

part 2|152 pages

The Consolidation of a Political Nation

chapter 10|10 pages

“The Authority of the Whole Realm”

Parliamentary Law as the First Principle of Representative Rights and National Sovereignty

chapter 11|27 pages

Freedom of Trade as a Developing Principle

The Assertion of Absolute Property Against Prerogative Impositions

chapter 12|15 pages

Parliament as a Point of Contact Between the Constituencies

The Emergence of a Freestanding National Interest, and the Roots of English Liberty

chapter 13|14 pages

The Elizabethan Nation

“The Envy of Less Happier Lands”

chapter 14|23 pages

The Foreign Foreign Policy of James I

chapter 15|20 pages

“A Declaration of the State of the Kingdom”

The National Imperatives That Necessitated Automatic Parliaments, and the Triumph of Freedom of Trade

chapter 16|12 pages

The Commercial Landscape

“How Wide the Limits Stand Between a Splendid and a Happy Land”

chapter |8 pages


The Limits of the Commercial Land: Is the Environment History?