Ruptures: Sellers and Drop-outs
This chapter reinforces the conclusion of the previous chapter that established families were extremely tenacious in clinging to their seats. Therefore, it is important to realize that the very stability of families in their seats depended on this ability to sell estates as the need or opportunity arose. The argument here made is not that great landowners rarely sold off portions of their estates but rather that, partly because of the availability of these options, they were rarely wiped out altogether. Most of them were thus protected by legal, institutional, and, above all, psychological barriers against the most catastrophic effects not only of demographic attrition but also of financial misfortune or mismanagement. The full impact upon the composition of the landed elite as a whole by such attrition can only be assessed after the examination of the scale on which established families were being forced out has been combined with a study of the scale on which new families were thrusting their way in.
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