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A place of one’s own

The idea of “equity” in property emerged in 16th-century England and spread like a virus. It lies behind democracy and the credit crunch and will determine China’s future

By Andro Linklater   January 2010

I live in an ancient farmhouse in Kent that boasts a cat slide roof, a chimney stack leaning like the tower of Pisa, and a living room whose ceiling is supported by an immense wooden beam low enough to stun anyone taller than a jockey. In other words, it looks like a quintessential English country cottage.

But quaint though the roof, chimney and beam now seem, these three elements are evidence of a revolution in human affairs. Looking at them, I can recreate the events of almost 500 years ago, like a detective surveying a murder scene.

For sometime in…

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