A. The Open-Field System The open-field system was the great accomplishment of medieval agriculture. Three field rotations helped keep fields fertile. Traditional village rights reinforced traditional patterns of farming. Peasants were exploited in a number of ways, with those in Eastern Europe generally the worst off.
B. The Agricultural Revolution The use of more complex systems of crop rotation increased the amount of land under cultivation. Grain crops were alternated with nitrogen-storing crops. The open-field system was ended by “enclosing” the fields, particularly in England. The enclosure movement meant an end to common lands and to the independence of the rural poor who relied on them to survive.
C. The Leadership of the Low Countries and England Prior to the agricultural revolution, Holland was already the most advanced country in Europe in many areas. By the mid- seventeenth century intensive farming was well established throughout the Netherlands. One important Dutch advantage was a very dense population. The English were adept at learning from the Dutch. Jethro Tull gained fame in experimental agriculture and animal husbandry. By the mid-eighteenth century, English agriculture was in the process of a radical transformation. Half of all English land was enclosed by 1700. By 1700 a distinctive pattern of landownership and production existed in England. Enclosure marked the emergence of market-oriented estate agriculture and of a landless rural proletariat.
A. The Limitation on Population Growth Famine, disease, and war were the usual checks on growth. Europe’s population growth was kept fairly low.
B. The New Pattern of the Eighteenth Century Fewer deaths occurred in part due to the disappearance of the plague. Advances in medicine did little to decrease the death rate. Improved sanitation promoted better public health. An increase in the food supply meant fewer famines and epidemics.
A. The Putting-Out System The two main participants in the putting-out system were the merchant capitalist and the rural worker. Merchants loaned, or “put-out”, raw materials to workers who processed the raw materials and returned finished goods to the merchant. The putting-out system grew because it had competitive advantages. Rural manufacturing did not spread across Europe at an even rate.
B. The Textile Industry Throughout most of Europe’s history, the textile industry has employed more people than any other industry. Most participants in cottage industry worked in textiles. Cottage industry was a family enterprise. Relations between workers and employers were often marked by conflict.
C. Urban Guilds Europe’s guild system reached its highest point in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Guild masters were at the top of the world of work Guilds jealously restricted their membership. The power of guilds varied across Europe, Critics of guilds saw them as obstacles to innovation and progress. Over the course of the eighteenth century, some guilds grew more accessible to women.
D. The Industrious Revolution One scholar has used the term “industrious revolution” to describe Europe’s social and economic transportation. Northern European households made new choices about the allocation of time and resources, The impact of these new patterns of the quality of life for ordinary people is hotly debated. Economic and social change in the eighteenth century laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution.
A. Mercantilism and Colonial Wars English mercantilism was characterized by government regulations that served the interests both of the state of private individuals. Mercantilism in other European countries generally served only state interests. The Navigation Acts of 1651-1663 were a form of economic warfare against Dutch domination of Atlantic shipping. They gave British monopoly on trade with Britain’s North America colonies. After defeating the Dutch, England fought a series of wars with France for maritime domination of the world. War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713) War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) ended with British winning full control over India and North America. London grew into the West’s largest and richest city. Colonial populations provided an expanding market for English manufactured goods. English exports were increasingly balanced and diversified. Despite their losses, the French profited enormously from colonial trade.
B. Land and Labor in British America In Britain’s North American colonies cheap land and scarce labor resulted in the following: Rapid increase in the colonial population in the eighteenth century. Import of African slaves to tobacco plantations in southern colonies. Growing prosperity for British colonies.
C. The Atlantic Slave Trade The forced migration of millions of Africans was a key element in the Atlantic system and western Europeans economic expansion. After 1700, Britain was the undisputed leader of the slave trade. Increasing demands led to rising prices for African slaves. Africans participated in the trade. After 1775, a campaign to abolish slavery developed in Britain.
D. Revival in Colonial Latin America Under Philip V (r 1700-1746) Spain recovered economically and successfully defended her American colonies. Rising silver exports in the eighteenth century helped create a class of wealthy Creole (people of Spanish blood born in America) merchants. Creole estate owners dominated much of the peasant population through debt peonage, really a form of serfdom. The large middle group in the Spanish colonies were the mestizos, the offspring of Spanish men and Indian women.
E. Trade and Empire in Asia Europeans vied for dominance of Asian trade, At the end of the sixteenth century, the Dutch became major players in the Asian spice trade. The Dutch replaced the Portuguese as the dominant European power in the Indian Ocean trade world, transforming Asian business partners into dependents. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch faced fierce competition from the English East India Company. The British focused their attention on India. Britain’s great rival in India was France. By the early 1800’s, the British had gained economic and political dominance over much of the subcontinent.
F. Adam Smith and Economic Liberalism Smith challenged mercantilist ideas with his defense of free trade and his argument for keeping government interference in the economy to a minimum (The Wealth of Nations ). Smith was one of the Enlightenment’s most original thinkers. His work became the basis of the classic argument for economic liberalism.