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 ?
Gentry, an active 71-year-old who said he has never been sick, began experiencing nausea, shortness of breath, and becoming light-headed during any physical activity.
There are amusement parks and basketball games at local parks, but what the kids miss is grandma's gumbo and church on Sunday, mom Monique Gentry said.
As to the conspiracy charge, the ruling said that the Gentrys would cause Lindsay to be hungry by taking away her food before she could consume it simply because she was a slow eater.
Calling it a case of prolonged abuse of a helpless victim, Fisher in July sentenced Michael Gentry to six years in prison and his wife, Kathleen, to four years after their conviction of involuntary manslaughter, felony child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse.
Tried again, the Gentrys were each found guilty on three counts - conspiracy to commit child abuse or endangerment, involuntary manslaughter and child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
It's frightening that you can love and worship your child for 15 years, and she dies from multiple illnesses, and you get charged with murder and ultimately manslaughter,'' said Spalding, who worked with the Gentrys when they wanted to sue a hospital for causing Lindsay's death.
Prosecutors countered that Michael and Kathleen Gentry not only starved their daughter but prevented others from intervening to help her.
Michael and Kathleen Gentry, whose first trial on murder charges ended with a hung jury in May, are being retried on the less severe charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their daughter, Lindsay, in February 1996.
Michael Gentry was released from Men's Central Jail and Kathleen from Twin Towers Correctional Facility shortly before 8 a.
The Gentrys rejected an offer Friday to avoid retrial by pleading guilty to either child abuse or involuntary manslaughter under a plea bargain offered by prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Wednesday they need more time to decide whether to retry Michael and Kathleen Gentry on criminal charges stemming from the death of the couple's severely disabled daughter.
Michael and Kathleen Gentry are expected to face a second trial for the death of their severely handicapped daughter, Lindsay, a defense attorney said Tuesday.