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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

western Europe during the Middle Ages that was all the time influencing the fate of the servile classes. The waste had high importance in the manor system; but as slow improvements were brought about in agriculture, the importance of the waste declined. The lord desired to increase his income by reducing it to tillage, and for this purpose he created tenures upon it on behalf of young men of the servile class, the terms of which were easier than those of the ancient and traditional tenures; or he allowed tenants to create petty holdings out of the waste on special terms which gave them a chance to win capital. However slight the claims were which the servile classes had upon the waste by law and custom, nevertheless the mass of wild land existing in and through the country was in fact a patrimony of theirs; its economic effect upon their status and future was a thing which no laws or customs could cut off. The wars, famines, and pestilences which decimated their ranks were a blessing to those who survived and who found themselves possessed of a monopoly of labor over against a superabundance of land. That is the economic status which gives the laborer control of the market and command of the situation.

It was this state of things which freed the servile classes of France, England, and northern Italy. An advance in the arts by several great inventions greatly assisted the movement. The rise of the dynastic states, establishing civil institutions with greater security, peace, and order, worked in the same direction. The Church had been preaching doctrines for a dozen centuries which were distinctly unfavorable to servitude, and which did avail to produce conscientious misgivings and erratic acts hostile to servitude. The influence of these teachings is not to be denied, but it was trifling compared with the great economic changes which have been mentioned, in