The Expansion of Europe in the Eighteenth Century

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The Expansion of Europe in the Eighteenth Century

0Instructional Objectives

After reading and studying this chapter, students should be able to describe the causes and effects of the agricultural revolution and explain why certain nations led the way in these developments. They should be able to discuss Europe’s dramatic rise in population in the eighteenth century. They should also be able to assess the contribution of cottage industries to Europe’s economic and social development. Finally, they should be able to discuss the place of colonial markets in Europe’s transformation and identify the key costs and conflicts that resulted from the growth of global trade.

0Chapter Outline0

I0. Agriculture and the Land0

A0. The Open-Field System

10. The open-field system was the great accomplishment of medieval agriculture.

20. Three field rotations helped keep fields fertile.

30. Traditional village rights reinforced traditional patterns of farming.

40. Peasants were exploited in a number of ways, with those in Eastern Europe generally the worst off.

B0. The Agricultural Revolution0

10. The use of more complex systems of crop rotation increased the amount of land under cultivation.

20. Grain crops were alternated with nitrogen-storing crops.

30. The open-field system was ended by “enclosing” the fields, particularly in England.

40. The enclosure movement meant an end to common lands and to the independence of the rural poor who relied on them to survive.

C0. The Leadership of the Low Countries and England0

10. 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.

20. One important Dutch advantage was a very dense population.

30. The English were adept at learning from the Dutch.

40. Jethro Tull gained fame in experimental agriculture and animal husbandry.

50. By the mid-eighteenth century, English agriculture was in the process of a radical transformation.

60. Half of all English land was enclosed by 1700.

70. By 1700 a distinctive pattern of landownership and production existed in England.

80. Enclosure marked the emergence of market-oriented estate agriculture and of a landless rural proletariat.

II0. The Beginning of the Population Explosion0

A0. Limitations on Population Growth0

10. Famine, disease, and war were the usual checks on growth.

20. Europe’s population growth was kept fairly low.

B0. The New Pattern of the Eighteenth Century0

10. Fewer deaths occurred, in part due to the disappearance of the plague.

20. Advances in medicine did little to decrease the death rate.

30. Improved sanitation promoted better public health.

40. An increase in the food supply meant fewer famines and epidemics.

III0. Cottage Industry and Urban Guilds0

A0. The Putting-Out System

10. The two main participants in the putting-out system were the merchant capitalist and the rural worker.

20. Merchants loaned, or “put out,” raw materials to workers who processed the raw materials and returned finished goods to the merchant.

30. The putting-out system grew because it had competitive advantages.

40. Rural manufacturing did not spread across Europe at an even rate.

B0. The Textile Industry

10. Throughout most of Europe’s history, the textile industry has employed more people than any other industry.

20. Most participants in cottage industry worked in textiles.

30. Cottage industry was a family enterprise.

40. Relations between workers and employers were often marked by conflict.

C0. Urban Guilds

10. Europe’s guild system reached its highest point in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

20. Guild masters were at the top of the world of work.

30. Guilds jealously restricted their membership.

40. The power of guilds varied across Europe.

50. Critics of guilds saw them as obstacles to innovation and progress.

60. Over the course of the eighteenth century, some guilds grew more accessible to women.

D0. The Industrious Revolution

10. One scholar has used the term “industrious revolution” to describe Europe’s social and economic transformation.

20. Northern European households made new choices about the allocation of time and resources.

30. The impact of these new patterns of the quality of life for ordinary people is hotly debated.

40. Economic and social change in the eighteenth century laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution.

IV0. Building the World Economy0

A0. Mercantilism and Colonial Wars

10. English mercantilism was characterized by government regulations that served the interests both of the state and of private individuals. Mercantilism in other European countries generally served only state interests.

20. The Navigation Acts of 16511663 were a form of economic warfare against Dutch domination of Atlantic shipping. They gave British merchants and ship owners a near monopoly on trade with Britain’s North American colonies.

30. After defeating the Dutch, England fought a series of wars with France for maritime domination of the world.0

a0) War of the Spanish Succession (17011713)

b0) War of the Austrian Succession (17401748)

c0) The Seven Years’ War (17561763) ended with British winning full control over India and North America.

40. London grew into the West’s largest and richest city.

50. Colonial populations provided an expanding market for English manufactured goods.

60. English exports were increasingly balanced and diversified.

70. Despite their losses, the French profited enormously from colonial trade.

B0. Land and Labor in British America

10. In Britain’s North American colonies cheap land and scarce labor resulted in the following:0

a0) Rapid increase in the colonial population in the eighteenth century.

b0) Import of African slaves to tobacco plantations in southern colonies.

c0) Growing prosperity for British colonists.

C0. The Atlantic Slave Trade

10. The forced migration of millions of Africans was a key element in the Atlantic system and western European economic expansion.

20. After 1700, Britain was the undisputed leader of the slave trade.

30. Increasing demand led to rising prices for African slaves.

40. Africans participated in the trade.

50. After 1775, a campaign to abolish slavery developed in Britain.

D0. Revival in Colonial Latin America0

10. Under Philip V (r. 17001746) Spain recovered economically and successfully defended her American colonies.

20. Rising silver exports in the eighteenth century helped create a class of wealthy Creole (people of Spanish blood born in America) merchants.

30. Creole estate owners dominated much of the peasant population through debt peonage, really a form of serfdom.

40. The large middle group in the Spanish colonies were the mestizos, the offspring of Spanish men and Indian women.

E0. Trade and Empire in Asia

10. Europeans vied for dominance of Asian trade.

20. At the end of the sixteenth century, the Dutch became major players in the Asian spice trade.

30. The Dutch replaced the Portuguese as the dominant European power in the Indian Ocean trade world, transforming Asian business partners into dependents.

40. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch faced fierce competition from the English East India Company.

50. The British focused their attention on India.

60. Britain’s great rival in India was France.

70. By the early 1800s, the British had gained economic and political dominance over much of the subcontinent.

F0. Adam Smith and Economic Liberalism

10. 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 [1776]).

20. Smith was one of the Enlightenment’s most original thinkers.

30. His work became the basis of the classic argument for economic liberalism.

0Lecture Suggestions0

10. “Jethro Tull and His Age.” Who was Jethro Tull? What did he contribute to the agricultural revolution of the eighteenth century? Sources: M. Overton, Agricultural Revolution in England (1996); J. Neeson, Commoners: Common Right, Enclosure, and Social Change (1993); B. H. Slicher van Bath, The Agrarian History of Western Europe, A.D. 5001850 (1963); A. Kussmaul, A General View of the Rural Economy of England, 1538–1840 (1989).

20. “Women and the Industrial Revolution.” What was the role of women in the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century? What role did gender play in the organization of work in the early days of the Industrial Revolution? Sources: C. Crowston, Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France (2001); D. Hefter, ed., European Women and Industrial Craft (1995); G. Gullickson, Spinners and Weavers of Auffay (1986).

30. “The Negative Side of European Expansion: The Slave Trade.” What factors led to the Atlantic slave trade? What were Europeans’ attitudes toward people of color in the eighteenth century? Sources: P. Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery (1997); P. Harms, The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade (2002); E. Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1966); R. Pares, Yankees and Creoles (1956).

00classroom 0Activities 0

I0. Classroom Discussion Suggestions

A0. What factors enabled the English to lead the agricultural revolution?

B0. Discuss how the putting-out system worked.

C0. What were the effects of the enclosure system?

D0. How was European competition manifested in the European colonies?

E0. How did European competition for Asian trade differ from European competition for Atlantic trade?

F0. What role did guilds play in the economic and social transformations of the eighteenth century?

II0. Doing History0

A0. What did it take for an eighteenth-century peasant family to survive? Was the eighteenth century a period of spiraling inflation? Source: E. E. Rich and C. H. Wilson, eds., Cambridge Economic History of Europe, 8 vols. (Second edition, 1966).

B0. Have students read one of the following novels and write a short paper on what the novel reveals about the social history of the period. Sources: H. Fielding, Tom Jones; J. Austen, Emma and Pride and Prejudice; D. Defoe, Moll Flanders.

III0. Cooperative Learning Activities0

A0. Peasants to Industrial Laborers

Teams should investigate the transition from serfdom to industrial laborers, either geographically or by trade. Students might consult E. L. Ladurie, The Peasants of Languedoc (1976); P. Higonnet, Pont-de-Monvert: Social Structure and Politics in a French Village 1700–1914 (1971); O. Hufton, The Poor in Eighteenth-Century France (1974); G. Gullickson, Spinners and Weavers of Auffay (1986); M. Sonenschen, The Hatters of Eighteenth-Century France (1987). Each group/team should present its findings to the class.

0Map Activity0

10. Have students shade in the countries that witnessed agricultural and economic revolutions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on a blank outline map of Europe.

20. Using Map 19.3 (European Claims in North America Before and After the Seven Years’ War [1756–1763]) as a reference, answer the following questions.

a0. What advantages allowed Britain to defeat France in the Seven Years’ War?

b0. How did the war affect the patterns of Atlantic trade?

c0. What new challenges did Britain face as a result of its expanded North American Empire?

00001Audiovisual Bibliography0

10. The Agrarian Revolution. Parts I and II. (28 min. each. Color. Films, Inc.)

20. Tom Jones. (100 min. Color. Films, Inc.)

30. The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders. (102 min. Color. Films, Inc.)

40. Colonial Expansion of European Nations. (15 min. Color. Coronet Films.)

50. The Slave Trade Begins. (30 min. B/W. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.)

60. The Inventory. (Videodisc. 28 min. Color. Films for the Humanities and Sciences.)

70. From Waalstraat to Wall Street. (Videodisc. 50 min. Color. Films for the Humanities and Sciences.)

80. Archive of the New World. (Videodisc. 18 min. Color. Films for the Humanities and Sciences.)

90. Amistad. (DVD, 1997.)

100. The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Visual Record (

0internet resources0

10. Industrial Revolution: Primary Sources (

20. Colonial Latin America: Primary Sources (

30. Agricultural Revolution in England (

40. The Navigation Acts (

50. Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents (

00001suggested reading

The work by Slicher van Bath listed in the Notes is a wide-ranging general introduction to the transformation of European agriculture. J. de Vries, The Dutch Rural Economy in the Golden Age, 1500–1700 (1974), examines the causes of early Dutch leadership in farming, while J. de Vries and A. van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815 (1997), is a masterful extension of that investigation. M. Overton, Agricultural Revolution in England (1996), charts the path of agricultural progress in England. J. Allen, Enclosure and the Yeoman (1992) provocatively challenges the notion that enclosure contributed to growth in agricultural production, while L. Vardi, The Land and the Loom: Peasants and Profit in Northern France, 1680-1800 (1993) argues that peasants were active participants in market activity, not its victims.

Important studies on population and disease include M. Oldstone, Viruses, Plagues, and History (1998), and C. Cipolla, Miasmas and Disease: Public Health and Environment in the Pre-Industrial Age (1992). R. Allen et al. eds., Living Standards in the Past: New Perspectives on Well-Being in Asia and Europe (2004) and T. Bengtsson et al., eds. Life under Pressure: Morality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700–1900 (2005) both offer rich comparative perspectives on demographic trends and living standards among common people. O. Hufton deals vividly and sympathetically with rural migration, work, and women in The Poor in Eighteenth-Century France (1974).

S. Ogilvie and M. Cerman, eds., European Proto-Industrialization (1996) and M. Prak, ed. Early Modern Capitalism: Economic and social change in Europe, 1400-1800 (2001) are up-to-date surveys of several countries by leading scholars. An ambitious re-examination with extensive bibliographical references, M. Gutman, Toward the Modern Economy: Early Modern Industry in Europe, 1500–1800 (1988), highlights the creativity of rural industry. G. Gullickson, Spinners and Weavers of Auffay: Rural Industry and the Sexual Division of Labor in a French Village, 1750–1850 (1986) examines women’s labor in cottage industry, while J. Farr, Artisans in Europe, 1300–1914(2000) provides an overview of guilds and artisanal labor. C. Crowston, Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791 (2001) offers a case study of an all-female guild.

In the area of trade and colonial competition, see V. Barbour, Capitalism in Amsterdam (1963), and C. R. Boxer, The Dutch Seaborne Empire (1970), R. Herr, The Eighteenth-Century Revolution in Spain (1958), and J. Brewer, The Sinews of Power: War, Money, and the English State, 1688–1783 (1989). D. Ormrod, The Rise of Commercial Empires: England and the Netherlands in the Age of Mercantilism, 1650–1770 (2003), examines the battle for supremacy in the North Sea. D. K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empires (1971), and R. Davies, The Rise of Atlantic Economies (1973), are valuable works on the struggle for empire. For slavery, see H. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade (1999), an excellent short synthesis, and P. Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800 (1997), a very impressive study. R. Harms, The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade (2002), is the deeply moving history of a French slave ship and its victims. Inikori, cited in the Notes, shows the tremendous contribution of Africans to the Atlantic economy. C. Midgley, Women Against Slavery: The British Campaigns, 1780–1870 (1992), examines women abolitionists in Britain. H. Liebersohn, The Traveler’s World: Europe to the Pacific (2006) recounts European explorations and imaginations of the Pacific.

E. Rothschild, Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment (2001), is a fascinating reconsideration of Smith and early liberalism. R. Porter, London: A Social History (1994), is a sparkling combination of fine scholarship and exciting popular history. J. Summerson, Georgian London, rev. ed. (2003), is a classic architectural study with intriguing illustrations.

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