Diggers, The

(104 words)

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An offshoot of the Leveller movement, and self-proclaimed True Levellers according to a pamphlet published by Gerrard Winstanley in 1649, he and his followers became known as the Diggers, because of their emphasis on cultivating common land. Winstanley asserted that English people had been living under a 'Norman Yoke', and that the best way to reclaim their lost rights was to defy notions of private property, including planting food (then in acute shortage) on common land. They established communities in Surrey, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, but within two years, the combined hostility of landowners and the Council of State had put an end to the movement.

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