gentry

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gentry

a group of non-aristocratic landowners in England, from the 15th-century to the early 20th-century, whose size of landholding and wealth varied, but was usually enough to sustain a particular way of life which included education and a degree of leisure (Mingay, The Gentry: the Rise and Fall of a Ruling Class, 1976). The English gentry are seen as important for the introduction of capitalist agriculture. The term has also been applied to other societies, especially by Eberhard (1965), to conceptualize the combination of landholding and scholarship in Imperial China.

Gentry

 

(1) Untitled middle and lower nobility in England in the 16th and 17th centuries. The gentry was an important part of the new nobility. Adapting to the rapid development of capitalist relations in England during the 16th and 17th centuries, the gentry became the foremost champion of capitalism in the English countryside.

During the agrarian upheaval of the 16th and 17th centuries, the gentry increased its landed property as a result of enclosures and the sale of secularized church property. In order to receive capitalist rent, the gentry often leased land to big capitalist farmers. Members of the gentry often engaged in agriculture and industry themselves and exploited their hired workers. By investing capital in commercial companies, they obtained capitalist profits.

The gentry grew in economic strength and played an important political role as early as the 16th century. Many political figures were of gentry origin; these included leaders of the parliamentary opposition against the absolutism of the first Stuarts and leaders of the English Civil War (in Russian, the English Bourgeois Revolution of the 17th century)—for example, J. Hampden, J. Pym, and O. Cromwell. The leader of the Levelers, J. Lilburne, was also a member of the gentry. The new nobility became the main ally of the bourgeoisie during the civil war. The war led to a vast increase in the gentry’s landed property; the abolition of the “knightly holding” transformed gentry land into typically bourgeois private property. At the end of the 17th century, the gentry split. Its leadership became lords, and some members merged with the urban bourgeoisie. However, the majority maintained the status of lower nobility. They supported the Tory Party and played an important role in the institutions of local government.

(2) A designation given by European scholars to the social class shen-shih in feudal China.

V. S. SEMENOV

References in periodicals archive ?
Donte Gentry is stuck between the world he knew and loved and the one that has embraced him in the wake of the nation's biggest natural disaster.
The Gentrys were convicted in June 2000 of involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse in the death of their daughter.
Kingdom Skateboards, founded by Gentry and his wife Ricca, manufactures skateboards and a full line of Kingdom branded clothing and merchandise.
LAKE LOS ANGELES - Michael Gentry, serving six years in prison for allowing his disabled daughter to starve to death, is appealing his conviction on grounds that the judge erred during his trial.
The minimum the Gentrys should have receive is 20 to 30 years.
The Gentrys were released on bail during their second trial, but were taken back into custody after the guilty verdict was returned.
Kathleen Gentry's lawyer, Lyle Middleton, said the Gentrys were so insistent on their innocence that they rejected a plea bargain that would have kept them out of jail if they had pleaded guilty to a child-abuse charge.
The Gentrys face up to four years in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and conspiracy.
Defense attorneys plan to call the girl's pediatrician, neighbors and friends of the Gentrys and social workers, all of whom are expected to testify that they did not witness any abuse.
Since their arrest, the Gentrys have turned down three plea bargains offered by the district attorney and have maintained their innocence.
Several of the dozen or so friends and relatives of the Gentrys who attended the hearing gasped and smiled when the judge announced the reduced bail.
The Gentrys were tried on murder, child abuse and other charges during a six-week trial that ended last week in a mistrial in Van Nuys.