This book offers a general history of expropriation of land for the common good in Europe and North America from Middle Ages to 1800. Focusing on western Europe and the English colonies in America, it asks whether individuals in the society being examined had rights in land that were deemed valid in that society, whether any particular bundle of rights or piece of land was vulnerable to expropriation, and whether the expropriated landholder was supposed to receive compensation. The book presents evidence from western Europe before 1100 and western Europe and British North America from 1100 to 1800, including postmedieval Italy, Germany, and Spain, to examine whether land went on being taken with compensation. It also discusses justifications and arguments about the principle of expropriation in Europe and North America between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, it considers ideas about politics and society that might explain why the obligation to surrender property for the general good has been a widely accepted practice.
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