b]English society in the early 17th century
In the early 17th century the English society was based on landownership which gave social status and political authority. Because of heavy taxation the Royalists were forced to sell the land which was acquired by the middle class which was thus incorporated in the gentry, or local aristocracy. Thanks to the falling prices, also the poor saw improvements of their status. The landowners were involved in industrial and commercial affairs and the contrast between countryside and town strongly reduced. Trade and transports improved, markets were replaced by shops and the more the shops the larger the town would grow. London was by far the larger and most important town; London was in fact the base of the greatest trading companies and all waterway transportation of good passed through it. Besides, London had control of many colonies that were used to import raw materials. London was also a political, social and cultural centre and the population grew in number to nearly a quarter of a million. However, outside London people began to get married late and thus women had less children leading to a fall of births and numbers. As a result of puritan ideas, the father authority within the family increased; the father was not only the head of the family to whom the children had to obey, but he was also its spiritual guide who would be in charge of the Bible readings and the daily prayers.