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post medieval

Heralded by the Tudors. The Tudors have had many TV series and it's not my intention to cover them further here other than the Pilgrimage of Grace. The Tudors presence ends shortly after the The British East India Company received its charter from Elizabeth I. The "company" traded in cotton, silk, dye, saltpetre, tea and opium. It became all powerful, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. As time past the commercial aspect of the company took a "back seat" and eventually the British Crown assumed responsibility for India with the Government of India Act 1858. Its power spanned over 250 years!

Of course we had the gunpowder plot, William Shakespeare, the King James Bible and civil war. At least News24 would have had more to cover than the Strictly Come Dancing results! Charles I dissolved parliament (1629) and began 11 years of personal rule, something that Margaret Thatcher, a local, was to emulate 1979.

In 1666 The Great Fire of London starts, it consumed two thirds of the city but unfortunately they rebuilt it. This was on top of the Great Plague (1665) that devastated town and countryside alike.

The plague, Yersinia pestis, is usually transmitted by rat fleas - common hosts are ground squirrels, Black and Wood Rats. The Brown Rat is not in the list and yet it is the one that always gets the blame! The arrival of the Brown Rat may have helped end the plague as it displaced the Black or Ship Rat, a major factor in the spread of the plague. The Brown Rat, Rattus Norvegicus, (Norwegian Rat) doesn't come from Norway so quite why it acquired the name nobody knows but there are buses with "Nestlé" on the side that aren't actually going to Switzerland either.

The Inclosure (enclosure) of land started during the Tudor period and several Inclosure Acts followed from 1773 until 1882. The idea was to bring together large parcels of land from the old strip farming land, needless to say these improvements in the ways of agriculture didn't work to the favour of the peasantry. Rights to land for grazing, wood for burning were all removed. The church was complicit as the landowners friend in parliament. In Oxfordshire demonstrations took place outside of the churches around Otmoor but it didn't help.

The results of inclosure gives us the landscape we have today, that and the Dutch drainage engineers. Daniel Defoe visited the Humber Wetlands early in the eighteenth century and described the area ".. a wonderful conflux of great rivers, all pouring down into the Humber, which receiving the Aire, the Ouse, the Don and the Trent, becomes rather a sea than a river.. ". Not anymore, the area is now dedicated to agriculture and rather uninspiringly flat. Since the 1600's large scale drainage projects have turned vast tracts of wetland and fen into farm land.