|Sheep are quite peaceful animals, and they have never been snapping their teeth chasing frightened people across green meadows. |
But there were times when sheep were a sinister omen for the life of several generations of English peasants. It was all began in the 16th century when Britain developed manufacture (which actually meant hand labour). At the dawn of British manufacture their main industry was producing cloth made of sheep wool. This cloth was very nice — thick, lasting and soft. The workers used simple implements — spinning wheels, all kinds of manned stations. Each worker specialized in only one operation, and soon became very skillful in it. Therefore british cloth was famous all over Europe, and it sold very well, yielding big profits. So more and more sheep were bred in England, and soon there was not enough land for them. And land owners were quick to realize that it was much more profitable to allot their lands for sheep pastures than to lease it to peasants. So the peasants were ousted from the lands, and sometimes dwellers of entire villages were driven away.
SoThomas More bitterly noticed in his famous “Utopia” "Your sheep whiсh аre usuаlly so tame аnd so cheaply fed, begin now, aссording to reрort, to be so grееdy and wild thаt they devоur human beings thеmselves and devаstate and depоpulate fields, houses, and towns."
Later, when people started citing him, they transformed the quotation into a simpler phrase — “SHEEP ATE MEN”. Women, evidently, were not that important.