A theory of the pre-modern British aristocracy
Between c. 1550 -c. 1880, a small group of individuals ruled England and oversaw her transformation from a small country to the British Empire--and in the process they became exceedingly wealthy. Known as aristocrats, their unusual lifestyles were the antithesis of modern secular values. Today aristocrats are often viewed as a hindrance to pre-modern growth and development because they appeared to operate so inefficiently. This paper argues that the aristocrats efficiently provided the valuable service of "trustworthy servant", by investing their wealth in hostage capital. This theory explains terms of entry and exit out of the aristocracy, the strict family settlement, their education patterns, extravagant lifestyle, and their ultimate voluntary retreat from power.
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