During the French Revolution and the turmoil that spawned from it, it became common to refer to the patterns of social, political, and economic relationships that had existed in France before 1789 as the Old Regime.
The term Old Regime applies specifically to the system of government known as political absolutism with the growing bureaucracies and aristocratically led armies.
Economically, scarcity of food, the predominance of agriculture, slow travel, a low level of iron production, comparatively unsophisticated financial institutions, and, in some cases, competitive overseas empires characterized the Old Regime.
Men and women of this time did not see themselves as individuals, but rather as members of distinct corporate bodies that possessed certain privileges or rights as a group.
Section One: Major Features of Like in the Old Regime
Pre-revolutionary Europe can be described by four distinct features
Aristocratic elites possessing a wide variety of inherited legal privileges
Established churches intimately linked with the state and aristocracy
an urban labor force usually organized in guilds
a rural peasantry subject to high taxes and feudal dues
Maintenance of Tradition
Few people—other than those involved in finance and government—considered change or innovation desirable in Europe during the eighteenth century.
Nobles demanded the restoration of legal privileges that they believed were being swept away by the growing monarchical bureaucracies.
Peasants called for the restoration of their customary rights—through petitions and revolts—that allowed them to access particular lands, courts, or grievance procedures.
Except for early industrial development in Britain, the eighteenth century economy was predominately traditional as it was primarily based on agriculture.
Hierarchy and Privilege
Medieval sense of rank and degree became more rigid in the eighteenth century.
For example, in several continental cities, laws regulating the dress of the different classes remained on the books.
Each state or society was considered a community composed of several smaller communities.
People did not enjoy “individual rights” but instead were given rights and privileges guaranteed to the particular community of which he or she was a part.
The “community” might include the village, the municipality, the nobility, the church, the guild, university, or parish and the members of each group were granted certain “communal” rights.
Section Two: The Aristocracy
The eighteenth century was the age of the aristocracy as they constituted 1 to 5 percent of a given countries population and were also the wealthiest sector of the population, had the widest degree of social, political, and economic power, and set the tone for polite society.
Land provided the aristocracy with its largest source of income, but aristocrats also participated in social and other areas of economic life.
However, in Great Britain and France, the nobility helped to foster innovation and embraced the commercial spirit which helped protect their wealth and gave them common interest with the commercial classes who were also eager to see the economy grow.
Varieties of Economic Privilege—To be an aristocrat was a matter of birth and legal privilege and the aristocracy throughout Europe held this in common; however, in almost every other respect, the differed markedly from country to country.
Smallest, wealthiest best defined, and most socially responsible aristocracy in Europe
Consisted of about 400 families and eldest male members or each family sat in the House of Lords
“peerage”—the right to sit in the House of Lords and to inherit a father’s land was reserved for the eldest son
Younger sons, therefore, worked in commerce, the army, and the church
Nobles owned about one-fourth of the fertile land in England but also invested in commerce, canals, urban real estate, mines, and even industrial ventures.
Landowners, in both houses, levied taxes and also paid taxes.
Although the British aristocracy technically had few privileges, their direct or indirect control of local governments gave them far-reaching political powers and influence.
The nearly 400,000 members of the French nobility were divided into distinct groups
Nobles of the “sword”—those whose nobility was derived from military service
Nobles of the “robe”—those who had acquired their titles either by serving in the bureaucracy or by having purchased them.
French nobles were also divided between those who held favor with the monarch’s court at Versailles and those who did not.
By the late 18th century, appointments to the church, the army, and the bureaucracy tended to go to nobles closely aligned with the king’s court.
Hobereaux, or provincial nobility, in France were often little better off than wealthy peasants.
All French aristocrats were exempt from taxes.
aristocrats did not pay the taille, or land tax
they were liable for the payment of the vingtieme, or the “twentieth”, which resembled an income tax, but they rarely had to pay it in full
Military traditions of the aristocracy remained significant
Polish nobles were called szlachta and they were entirely exempt from taxes after 1741.
Until 1768, the Polish nobility had the right of life and death over their serfs.
Most of the Polish nobles were poor and the few who had wealth exercised political power in the fragile Polish state.
Austria and Hungary
nobility possessed broad judicial authority over the peasantry through manorial courts.
enjoyed varying degrees of exemption from taxes
Prince Esterhazy of Hungary was the wealthiest who owned ten million acres of land.
After the accession of Frederick the Great in 1740, the position of the Junker nobles became much stronger.
Frederick fought in several wars and recruited his generals almost exclusively from the Junker nobles.
Prussian nobles were given extensive judicial authority over the serfs.
Nobles increasingly made up the Prussian bureaucracy.
Eighteenth century saw the creation of the Russian nobility which was based on state service as outlined in the Table of Ranks
Russian nobles developed a self-conscious class identity that had not previously existed.
Russian nobles resist mandatory public service
In 1736, Empress Anna reduced state service to 25 years
In 1762, Peter III exempted the greatest nobles entirely from service
In 1785, Catherine the Great legally defined the rights and privileges of nobles entirely in exchange for the assurance that the nobility would serve the state voluntarily
Russian noble privileges included:
transmitting noble status to a nobleman’s wife and children
the judicial protection of noble rights and property
considerable power over the serfs
exemption from personal taxes
Aristocratic resurgenceis a term applied to the European-wide reaction by the nobility to maintain their status amidst the threat of expanding power of the monarchs.
Nobles did four major things to protect their privileges
tried to preserve their exclusiveness by making it more difficult to become noble
sought to reserve appointments to high positions in the military, senior posts in the bureaucracies and government ministries, and the upper ranks of the church exclusively for nobles.
Nobles used the authority of existing institutions like British Parliament and French courts, or parlements, and provincial diets in Germany and the Habsburg Empire to prevent the spread of absolutism.
Nobles worked to improve its financial position by gaining further exemptions from taxation and also imposing long-forgotten feudal dues on the peasantry.
Section Three: The Land and Its Tillers
Land was the basis of status and power of the nobility
Other than the nobility, most of the rural population was dreadfully poor.
Peasants and Serfs
Rural social dependency
England’s agricultural work force was made up of tenants, or a free peasantry.
All farmers and tenants in England had the legal rights of citizens.
Most French agricultural workers were also tenants.
Serfs of Germany, Austria, and Russia were legally bound to a particular plot of land and a particular lord and were also subjected to high taxation.
Obligation of Peasants
most owned land, but there were some serfs in eastern France
banalties were feudal dues that the French peasantry was forced to pay
the corvee required peasants to labor a certain number of days each year for the lord
Prussia and Austria
Although monarchs in the late eighteenth century worked to improve the lives of the serfs, the local landlords in these regions continued to exercise almost complete control over them.
In Habsburg lands, law and custom required serfs to provide service, or robot, to the lords.
Wealth and status in Russia depended largely on the number of serfs one owned and, therefore, lords regarded serfs as commodities.
barshchina—right of Russian lords to demand six days of work from their serfs.
Lords had the right to punish serfs and even exile them to Siberia
There was little difference between Russian serfdom and slavery.
peasants were free but landlords attempted to assert authority over them
cift—Turkish word used to describe the lord’s domain
Turkish landlords became more commercially oriented and began to produce crops like cotton, vegetables, potatoes, and maize that they could sell on the market.
scarcity of labor in Ottoman lands gave the peasantry maneuverability to go from lord’s land to another demanding better treatment and wages
Disorder in the 17 and 18th centuries that originated in Constantinople gave the lords an opportunity to increase their authority as peasants needed the fortified manor houses of the lords for protection from raids by bandits.
Landlords owned all the housing and tools that peasants needed to sow their crops.
Russia experienced a lot of peasant unrest and there were over fifty peasant revolts between 1762 and 1769.
Pugachev’s Rebellion (1773-1775)
Emelyan Pugachev promised the serfs land of their own and freedom from their lords
All southern Russia was in turmoil until the government brutally suppressed the rebellion
Smaller peasant revolts occurred in Bohemia in 1775, in Transylvania in 1784, in Moravia in 1786, and in Austria in 1789.
There were almost no revolts in western Europe.
Section Four: Aristocratic Domination in the Countryside—The English Game Laws
Aristocrats in the English countryside manipulated English legislation on hunting by claiming the exclusive right to hunt game animals such as deer, and birds such as hares, partridges, pheasants, and moor fowl.
Only persons possessing a particular amount of property could hunt these animals
Reasons for excluding different social groups from hunting
Nobles believed it would impact the work out-out of peasants
City merchants were excluded because the nobles wanted their exclusion to act as a visible sign of their social inferiority to the landed aristocracy
Peasant response to game laws
many rural poor ignored game laws as they believed the game belonged to the community
Demand for black market meat in the cities
Many poachers turned their hunting into a business as the sold their game for sale.
higglers were merchants who operated illegal enterprises by purchasing stolen meat from the countryside and villages
Section Five: Family Structures and the Family Economy
The household in pre-Industrial Europe was the basic unit of production and consumption.
The household mode of organization predominated on the farms, in artisan’s workshops, and in small merchant shops.
This system became known as the family economy.
Households in northwestern Europe
Who comprised the household in northwestern Europe?
Consisted of a married couple, their children through the early teenage years, and their servants.
Households usually consisted of 5-6 members
Due to high mortality and late marriage, grandparents rarely survived to live under the same roofs as their grandchildren.
Family structure was nuclear, rather than extended
Children lived with their parents until their early teens when they would typically leave home to find work as young servants and would live in their master’s household.
A child of a skilled artisan may stay at home to learn a valuable skill.
Neolocalism—the process of moving away from home.
Young people married relatively late in the eighteenth century as men were generally around the age of 26 , and women over the age of 23
Couples usually had children soon after they married.
Premarital sexual relations were common
Servants in pre-industrial Europe
A servant in the eighteenth century was a man or woman, usually young, who was hired to work for the head of a household in exchange for room, board, and wages.
Normally, a servant sat with the family at dinner and became an integral part of the family.
Working as a servant for 8-10 years gave young men and women an opportunity to save their wages to start their own households.
Households in Eastern Europe
Both men and women usually married before the age of twenty.
Often, the wife was older than the husband
In Russia, marrying did not involve starting a new household but rather expanding one already established.
Who comprised an Eastern European household?
Frequently, a rural Russian household would consist of more than nine people and sometimes nearly twenty.
There were sometimes more than four generations living together in a household as a result of the young age of marriage.
Landlords influence over the institution of marriage
Lords wanted to ensure that their lands would be cultivated so they insisted that serfs marry only those on their lands in order to keep the labor force strong
Sometime lords required widows and widowers to marry.
In Russia, landlords ordered families of young people in their villages to arrange marriages within a set amount of time.
The Family Economy
Village and Rural Households
Almost everyone was part of a household in pre-industrial Europe as it was difficult to survive on your own and those who lived out on their own were viewed as suspicious.
The need to survive poor harvest, winters, and economic slumps required that everyone in the household contribute.
Few families in western Europe had enough land to support their families from farming alone.
Skilled craftsmen typically worked out of their homes
The father usually served as the head artisan.
Fathers usually trained their eldest son in their craft
Wives of merchants frequently ran the business while the husband was away on business purchasing supplies or other goods.
Death of a father
A father’s death often brought disaster to a family.
The widow might take over the farm or the business, or his children may do so.
Widow’s sought to remarry quickly.
High mortality rates meant that many households were reconstituted second families that included stepchildren and family widows who became dependent on relatives.
Children became dependent and therefore entered the workforce at an earlier age
Eastern Europe Family Economy
Functioned in the context of serfdom and landlord domination
Far fewer merchant and artisan households
Dependence on the available land was the chief fact of life
Women and the Family Economy
A women’s life experience was dependent on how well she was able to establish and maintain a household.
Outside a household, women were rarely able to support themselves by their own efforts.
Bearing and rearing children were subordinate to a woman’s need to remain part of a household.
At age seven begins to care for the household of her parents
A girl would continue to work in her own household unless her labor elsewhere was not remunerative to the family.
An artisan’s daughter wouldn’t likely leave home until marriage.
A girl who was a member of a large family—whose labor wasn’t vital to maintaining the family’s household—left home around age 12-14.
If a teenage girl left home, her goal was to raise enough capital for a dowry.
A wife was expected to make an immediate financial contribution to starting a household at marriage, and, as a result, age of marriage was late as it often took ten years for a young woman to accumulate the necessary wealth.
Life as a married woman
Earning enough money or producing agricultural products was the primary concern
Birth control was common as couples tried to limit the number of children through the of coitus interruptus—the withdrawal of the male before ejaculation.
Children and the World of the Family Economy
Concerns over childbirth
Women and infants were vulnerable to contagious diseases.
Perpetual fever was common
Some midwives were unskilled
Wet-nursing was common among the poor and wealthy
Most women had too many responsibilities in the household to nurse their own children and therefore relied on a wet-nurse.
Wealthy women wet-nursed for convenience.
Wet-nursing industry was well organized and children from the cities were often transported to the country for months, or even a year, to live with their assigned wet-nurse.
Increased during the eighteenth possibly because increased migration of the population led to fleeting romances.
Often led to infanticide among the poor.
Institutions develop committed to preserving lives of abandoned children
Number of foundling hospitals grows
Paris Foundling Hospital (1670)
London Foundling Hospital (1739)
Despite these efforts, in Paris only about 10% of abandoned children lived to the age of 10
New interest arose in educating children during the eighteenth century
Primarily upper-class children
As economic skills became more demanding, literacy became more valuable, and as a result literacy rates rose.
Section Six:The Revolution in Agriculture
Food supply was never certain and the farther east one traveled, the less stable it was.
People in the countryside were more concerned with the food supply than city-dwellers, as municipal city governments frequently stored emergency reserves of grain.
Limited supply of food caused a rise in prices that the poor couldn’t withstand and had to rely on charity for survival.
Bread prices rose throughout the eighteenth century because of the growing population which benefitted the landlords.
With better financial situations, landlords in western Europe began a series of innovations in farm production that became known as the Agricultural Revolution.
New Crops and New Methods
Agricultural Revolution began in the Netherlands
started here due to shortage of land required to nourish a growing population
landlords and farmers constructed advanced dikes and methods to drain land
experimented with new crops like turnips and clover that increased the supply of animal fodder and restored the soil quickly
Cornelius Vermuyden, a Dutch engineer, was hired by England in the seventeenth century to drain thousands of acres of land around Cambridge.
Four British men who made key contributions to the Agricultural Revolution
Jethro Tull (1674-1741)
Conducted and financed experiments himself to improve farming methods
Improved farming by first using iron plows to turn the earth more deeply and planting wheat by drill rather than just casting seeds
His methods permitted land to be cultivated for longer periods without having to leave it fallow.
Charles “Turnip” Townshend (1674-1738)
Taught farmers how to cultivate sandy soils with the correct combinations of fertilizers
Instituted the practice of “crop rotation” using wheat, barley, turnips, and clover; and there was no longer a need to leave a fallow field.
This increased the amount of fodder and thus more livestock could be raised.
Robert Bakewell (1725-1795)
Pioneered new methods of animal breeding that produced more and better animals and more milk and meat
Arthur Young (1741-1820)
Edited Annals of Agriculture which was a collection of essays on cutting edge agricultural methods.
Enclosure Replaces Open-Field Method
England’s communities of cultivators made communal decision regarding what crops to plant and shared common pastures for the grazing of livestock.
This system discouraged improvement and favored the poorer farmers who needed the common pastures.
The village method did not allow for the expansion of pastureland to produce more animals that would, in turn, produce more manure for fertilizer.
By the second half of the eighteenth century, rising wheat prices led landlords to systematically enclose their land in order to use the land more rationally and to achieve greater commercial profits.
Enclosure brought turmoil to the countryside.
Landlords fenced the common land which had previously functioned as common pastures.
Riots often ensued.
Since most members of Parliament were larger landowners, they were able to enact legislation that granted legal right to enclose lands.
The enclosure movement exemplifies the introduction of entrepreneurial or capitalistic attitude of the urban merchant into the countryside.
Limited Improvements in Eastern Europe
In Prussia, Russia, Austria, and Poland, agricultural improvement was limited.
Landlords or their agents directed farm management rather than the villages in an effort to squeeze more labor from the serfs.
The only notable achievement was the introduction of maize and the potato.
Expansion of the Population
Beginning in the eighteenth century, the population began to increase steadily.
Population in 1700 was roughly 110,000,000 and by 1850 260,000,000
Positive process that developed due to a rising population
Need to feed population caused food prices to rise
This spurred innovation in agriculture to meet the demand.
Death rate drastically declined in urban and rural areas
Few wars and little disease in the eighteenth century
Introduction of the potato—a crop found in the New World
On a single acre, a peasant family could produce enough potatoes to sustain itself for a year.
Population explosion created new demands for food, jobs, and services and left many rural people with employment; this led to a migration to cities.
Section Seven: The Industrial Revolution of the Eighteenth Century
The term “Industrial Revolution” describes an era which instituted change and ideas that caused the sustained economic growth of the western world through the present.
Industrialization made possible the production of more goods and services than ever before in human history.
Human ability to manipulate and impact nature led to sudden environmental concerns
A Revolution in Consumption
The ever-increasing demand for goods sparked the ingenuity of designers and inventors.
Dutch prosperity led the way in new forms of consumption and were followed by the English and French who seemed to have more disposable income by the eighteenth century.
Producers developed new methods of marketing.
Josiah Wedgewood first attempted to find customers among the royal family and the aristocracy to set a trend; after they purchased his products, he made an inexpensive version of the chinaware for the middle-class consumers.
Brewing industry became completely commercialized.
Style was impacted as fashion magazines widely circulated so the poor and middleclass were more aware of the latest trends which they could imitate by purchasing less expensive versions.
Industrial Leadership of Great Britain
Why did industrialization begin in England?
London was the center of the world of fashion and taste.
People learned what to want while on business trips or pleasure excursions to London.
Social structure of Britain encouraged people to imitate the lifestyle of their social superiors
The British had good roads and waterways which did not charge tolls.
British taxes—unlike most of the Continent—were legally approved through Parliament and all social classes and regions paid the same rate.
British society offered social mobility through hard work and making wise decisions.
Those who farmed in the spring, summer, and fall often spun thread or wove in the winter.
Merchants took wool or un-spun fibers to peasant homes
Peasants spun it into thread
Merchant transported the thread to other peasants who wove it into textiles
The merchant sold the wares.
The merchant capitalist usually owned the machinery as well as the raw material.
The Spinning Jenny
The problem solved by the Spinning Jenny
Cotton textile weavers had the technical capacity to produce the quantity of fabric demanded; however the spinners did not have the equipment to produce as much thread as the weavers needed.
In 1765, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny that could allow up to 120 spindles of thread to be spun.
The Water Frame
Invented by Richard Arkwright
Water-power device designed to permit the production of a purely cotton fabric, rather than a cotton fabric containing linen for durability
The water frame brought production out of the home as factories pooped up in the countryside along waterways.
Invented by Edmund Cartwright
It supplied a power source for machine weaving.
Perfected by James Watt in 1769
It used steam power to run textile machinery and factories could be easily located in urban areas.
The Steam Engine
Steam engine provided the first source of steady and essentially unlimited supply of inanimate power ever in human history
Steam power relied on mineral energy that never got tired.
Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) had invented the first practical engine to use for steam power but it did not use coal resources efficiently.
Scottish engineer who experimented with the Newcomen engine at the University of Glasgow
He discovered that it increased efficiency by separating the condenser from the piston and cylinder.
Matthew Boulton, a toy and button manufacturer, along with John Wilkinson, a cannon manufacturer, provided the precise metal work needed to support Watt’s design.
Iron is the chief element of all heavy industry and of land or sea transport.
British ironmakers began to substitute coke for charcoal, derived from wood, to smelt their iron.
In 1784, Henry Court (1740-1800) created a new method for melting and stirring molten ore which extracted more impurities from the molten metal, and in turn led to a higher quality of iron.
Court also created a rolling mill that shaped the still molten metal into bars, rails, and other forms.
The Impact of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions on Working Women
Industrialization decreased the significance of women in the workforce.
Prior to industrialization, women were important in agricultural production but machines, operated by men, replaced their contributions.
Women who had operated milking and butter industries were replaced as large corporation took over the production of these goods.
It became difficult for women to earn a living from the land.
Literature on improving the efficiency of farming often encouraged the removal of women from the agricultural workforce.
Women who previously worked in textile production from the home were replaced by the new machines and shift of textile production from the home.
Some of these women turned to the cottage industries such as knitting, button making, and glove stitching but made significantly less profit.
Thousands of women became domestic servants.
Priscilla Wakefield wrote “Priscilla Wakefield Demands More Occupation for Women” because she believed the number of jobs available to women were limited.
Industrialization increasingly brought women back to the home.
Section Eight: The Growth of Cities
In 1500, only 156 cities had populations of over 10,000, and only four of those cities—Paris, Milan, Venice, and Naples—had populations larger than 100,000.
By 1800, 363 cities had 10,000 or more inhabitants, and 17 of them had populations larger than 100,000.
A major shift in urban concentration from southern, Mediterranean Europe to the north had also occurred.
Patterns of Preindustrial Urbanization
Major cities grow in population
London grew from about 700,000 in 1700 to over a million in 1800.
By the time of the French Revolution (1789), Paris had more than 500,000 inhabitants.
Berlin’s population tripled in the eighteenth century and reached 170,000 in 1800.
Warsaw had a population of 30,000 inhabitants in 1730, but almost 120,000 in 1794.
St. Petersburg, founded in 1703, numbered more than 250,000 a century later.
Between 1500 and 1750, major urban expansion occurred in already established cities, but after 1750 the pattern changed as new cities sprouted out of nowhere.
Growth of Capitals and Ports
Most rapid growth of cities occurred in capitals and ports
Growth of capitals illustrates the development and growth of government bureaucracies and strong central government.
The growth of ports shows the increase in European overseas trade.
Cities with populations of fewer than 40,000 inhabitants declined between 1600 and 1750
Many of these cities were landlocked trading centers, medieval industrial centers, and ecclesiastical centers.
The Emergence of New Cities and the Growth of Small Towns
New pattern of urban population started in the mid-eighteenth century as the rate of growth of existing larger cities declined, new cities emerged, and existing smaller cities grew.
Jan De Vries calls this pattern “an urban growth from below.”
In the early stages of the Industrial Revolution occurred in the countryside and fostered the growth of smaller towns and factories near factories.
Improved agricultural methods increased crop production which led to the development of trading centers and the growth of smaller cities.
Urban poor and rich were segregated in different communities.
Aristocrats and members of the upper-middle class lived in fashionable townhouses, often constructed around laid-out green squares.
Poorest town dwellers usually congregated along the rivers.
Small merchants and artisans lived above their shops.
Pure water was rare.
Cattle, pigs, goats, and other animals roamed the streets.
Poverty in the cities
Many prostitutes, vagrants, begging, and alcoholism
Little food, disease, poor housing, etc.
“gin age”—mid-eighteenth century London
Depicted in engravings by William Hogarth
Public executions were a common occurrence in the cities of eighteenth century Europe.
The Upper Classes
At the top of urban social structure sat small groups of nobles, large merchants, bankers, financiers, clergy, and government officials.
They constituted a self-ruling oligarchy that governed the cities.
A royal charter usually gave the city corporation its authority and ability to select its own members.
Some guilds controlled the cities on the continent but usually the wealthiest nobles in the area did.
The Middle Class
Comprised of the prosperous merchants, trades people, bankers, and other professionals.
Not always immensely wealthy
Division in the middle class as the many lower-middle class people resented those of the upper-middle class
Characterized as willing to get involved in entrepreneurial activities and investment unlike the idle nobility
Members of the middle-class were among Europe’s leading consumers.
Relationship with the nobility
In England and France, the nobles increasingly embraced the commercial spirit.
Wealthy members of the middle class tried to imitate the lifestyle of the nobility.
Upper-middle class professionals found social mobility frustrating since they frequently found their quest for prosperity and social prestige blocked by the privileges of the nobility.
Monarchical bureaucracies—controlled by the nobility—were viewed as ineffective by the bourgeoisie
Middle class viewed the lower urban classes as violent and a threat to their property.
Shopkeepers, artisans, and wage earners were the largest group in any cities.
They included grocers, butchers, fishmongers, carpenters, cabinet makers, smiths, printers, hand-loom weavers, and tailors.
Many tried to consume the same goods as the upper middle class.
They were, indeed impacted, by bread prices.
Guilds only played a minor role in eighteenth century cities.
They often determined who could pursue a craft in order to prevent the flooding of the workforce and lessen competition.
Working in a guild
At an early age, a boy might become an apprentice to learn a craft.
After several years he would become a journeyman.
Still later, if he proves skillful, he may become a master.
The Urban Riot
Traditionally, artisans had a tradition of rioting if what was economically “just” had been offended.
Bread riots—sparked by a baker or grain merchant announcing a price that was considered unjust—often produced riots.
Artisan leaders often confiscated the bread, sold it to the urban classes for a fair price, and gave the income to back to the merchants and bakers from whom they had stolen.
In 1753, in London, Protestant mobs compelled the government to withdraw an act to legalize Jewish naturalization.
Lord George Gordon (1751-1793) announced an imaginary plot by Catholics after the government relieved military recruits from having to take anti-Catholic oaths.
Violence in riots was typically directed toward property rather than individuals.
Political riots became much more common near the end of the eighteenth century but rarely had artisan leaders.
Political riots were often ignited by the upper classes who relied on rowdy crowds to influence disputes they were having with the monarchy.
In Geneva, middle-class citizens supported artisan riots against the local oligarchy.
In Great Britain in 1792, the government incited mobs to attack English sympathizers of the French Revolution.
Section Nine: The Jewish Population: The Age of the Ghetto
Although small Jewish communities in Amsterdam and other Western European cities became famous for their intellectual like and financial institutions, most European Jews lived in Eastern Europe.
Europe’s Jewish population was concentrated in Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine where no fewer than three million Jews lived.
About 150,000 Jews lived in Habsburg lands, primarily Bohemia.
Fewer than 100,000 Jews lived in Germany.
France had approximately 40,000 Jews.
Catherine the Great specifically excluded Jews from a manifesto that welcomed foreigners to settle in Russia.
After the first partition of Poland in 1772, the Russian Empire included a large number of Jews.
Jews in most European nations did not enjoy the rights of citizens.
Oftentimes Jews were segregated in communities called ghettos but often times enjoyed a considerable degree of political autonomy within their own ghettos.
During the seventeenth century some Jewish financiers funded wars for major rulers and developed close professional relationship with them and received the nickname “court Jews.”
Samuel Oppenheimer, a Jewish banker, financed the Habsburg struggle against the Turks and the defense of Vienna.
Most European Jews lived in poverty.
Section Ten: In Perspective
By the close of the eighteenth century, European society was on the brink of a new era, on in which the commercial spirit and the values of the marketplace were permitted fuller play than ever before in human history.
Commercial spirit led increasingly to a conception of human beings as individuals rather than as members of a community.
More people meant more labor, more energy, and more minds.
Class structure and social hierarchy remained, but the boundaries became more blurred.