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dc.contributor.authorRobson, Eleanor Dezateux
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-27T14:17:13Z
dc.date.available2019-02-27T14:17:13Z
dc.date.issued2019-04-27
dc.date.submitted2018-08-24
dc.identifier.urihttps://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/290033
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines ‘improvement’ of wetland commons in early modern England as a contested process of rapid environmental change. As a flagship project of agrarian improvement, drainage sought to alchemise pastoral fen commons into arable enclosed terra firma and promised manifold benefits for crown, commoners, and commonwealth alike. In practice, however, improvement schemes generated friction between the political and fiscal agendas of governors and projectors and local communities’ customary ways of knowing and using wetland commons, provoking the most sustained and violent agrarian unrest of the seventeenth century. This thesis situates the first state-led drainage project in England, in the northern fens of Hatfield Level, in the context of the local politics of custom, national legal and political developments, and international movements of capital, expertise, and refugees; all of which intersected to reshape perceptions and management of English wetlands. Drawing on the analytic perspectives of environmental history, this thesis explores divergent ideas and practices generating conflict over the making of private property, reorganisation of flow, and reconfiguration of lived environments. This thesis argues that different ‘environing’ practices – both mental and material – distinguished what was seen as an ordered or disordered landscape, determined when and how water was understood as a resource or risk, and demarcated different scales and forms of intervention. Rival visions of the fenscape, ways of knowing land and water, and concepts of value and justice were productive of, and produced by, different practices of management, ownership, and use. Drainage disputes therefore crossed different spheres of discourse and action, spanning parliament, courtroom, and commons to bring improvement into dialogue with fen custom and generate a contentious environmental politics. In seven substantive chapters, this thesis investigates how improvement was imagined, legitimised, and enacted; how fen communities experienced and navigated rapid environmental transformation; and how political, social, and spatial boundaries were reforged in the process. By grounding improvement in the early modern fenscape, this thesis reintegrates agency into accounts of inexorable socio-economic change, illuminates ideas at work in social contexts, and deepens understandings of environmental conflict.
dc.description.sponsorshipWolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities; Royal Historical Society Centenary Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research; Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library
dc.language.isoen
dc.rightsAll rights reserved
dc.subjectenvironmental history
dc.subjectearly modern England
dc.subjectfen drainage
dc.subjectenclosure
dc.subjectimprovement
dc.subjectpopular protest
dc.subjectagrarian capitalism
dc.subjectsocial history
dc.subjectintellectual history
dc.subjectEnglish civil war
dc.subjectseventeenth-century Britain
dc.subjectJohn Lilburne
dc.subjectHatfield Level
dc.subjectCornelius Vermuyden
dc.subjectcustom
dc.subjectlocal politics
dc.subjectexpertise
dc.subjectcartography
dc.subjectepistemology
dc.subjectprivate property
dc.subjectcommons
dc.subjectsustainability
dc.subjectslow violence
dc.subjectSandtoft
dc.subjectplantation
dc.subjectearly modern migration
dc.subjectenvironmental politics
dc.subjectspace
dc.subjectflood risk
dc.subjectwater management
dc.subjectcommonwealth
dc.subjectsurveying
dc.subjecthusbandry
dc.subjectriot
dc.subjectIsle of Axholme
dc.subjectYorkshire
dc.subjectLincolnshire
dc.subjectNottinghamshire
dc.subjectwetlands
dc.subjectfenland
dc.subjectxenophobia
dc.subjectsewer commission
dc.subjectChristopher Saxton
dc.subjectHatfield Chase
dc.subjectthe Levellers
dc.subjecttragedy of the commons
dc.subjectlegal history
dc.subjectstate building
dc.subjectspeech act
dc.subjectjustice
dc.titleImprovement and environmental conflict in the northern fens, 1560-1665
dc.typeThesis
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoral
dc.type.qualificationnameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.publisher.institutionUniversity of Cambridge
dc.publisher.departmentFaculty of History
dc.date.updated2019-02-27T10:37:39Z
dc.identifier.doi10.17863/CAM.37259
dc.publisher.collegeWolfson College
dc.type.qualificationtitlePhD in History
cam.supervisorJackson, Clare
cam.thesis.fundingfalse
rioxxterms.freetoread.startdate2022-02-27


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