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HIST201: History of Europe, 1000 to 1800

Unit 9: Social and Economic Change in the Eighteenth Century   The end of the bubonic plague and the absence of devastating wars opened the door to significant changes in society and economy during the 1700s.  Population growth skyrocketed and created an unprecedented demand for food.  This in turn spurred an agricultural revolution in which land was improved and transformed into viable farmland.  Meanwhile, the rise of the cottage industry—the production of goods in the home rather than in the factory—fueled the growth of manufacturing and urbanization.  At the same time, European nations created an Atlantic economy that centered upon the African slave trade, New World plantation produce, and European textiles and manufactured goods.

In addition, many changes were wrought in the domestic sphere.  New developments in the structure of European society and economy in the eighteenth century had a significant impact upon marriage, family, medicine, nutrition, and religious beliefs.  With the rise of manufacturing, many European women began to work, and this altered patterns of marriage and childbearing.  Improved diet and better medicine translated into a longer lifespan for many Europeans.  Also, as nation-states became increasingly consolidated throughout Europe, the “vernacular”—the regional or national language or dialect—was increasingly emphasized in schools and churches.

In this unit, we will consider how and why European population growth, agricultural transformations, new developments in manufacturing, and the rise of an Atlantic economy were so interconnected.  We will also see how manufacturing and the agricultural revolution influenced Europeans’ daily lives and belief systems.

Unit 9 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 6.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 9.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.4: 1.5 hours

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the longterm changes that brought about the industrial revolution.
  • Describe the effects of economic changes on everyday life in 18th century Europe.
  • Define the major features of the economic theories of the time period.

9.1 The Agricultural Revolution   9.1.1 The Open Field System   - Reading: University of Kansas: Lynn Harry Nelson’s Medieval History Lectures: “The Peasants: Advances in Agricultural Technology, 800-1000” Link: University of Kansas: Lynn Harry Nelson’s Medieval History Lectures: “The Peasants: Advances in Agricultural Technology: 800-1000” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire webpage to learn about medieval farming.  This text was created by Lynn Harry Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Kansas.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.2 An Agricultural Revolution   Note: This topic is covered by the readings below sub-subunit 9.1.3.

9.1.3 Agricultural Improvement in England and the Netherlands   - Reading: BBC’s British History In-depth: Professor Mark Overton’s “Agricultural Revolution in England, 1500-1800” and Fordham University: Paul Halsall’s “Causes of the Industrial Revolution” Links: BBC’s British History In-depth: Professor Mark Overton’s “Agricultural Revolution in England, 1500-1800” (HTML) and Fordham University: Paul Halsall’s “Causes of the Industrial Revolution” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read both articles linked above in their
entirety.  The first reading will give you a sense of the scope and
impact of the agrarian revolution in England.  The second reading
describes how the agricultural revolution was one of many factors
setting the stage for the Industrial Revolution.  These readings
also cover the topic outlined in sub-subunit 9.1.2.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.2 Population Explosion and the Growth of the Cottage Industry   9.2.1 Population Growth   - Lecture: Yale University: Professor Robert Wyman’s “Lecture 7: Demographic Transition in Europe; Mortality Decline” Link: Yale University: Professor Robert Wyman’s “Lecture 7: Demographic Transition in Europe; Mortality Decline” (YouTube)
 
Also available in:
HTML, Adobe Flash, Mp3 or Quicktime 
iTunes U
 
Instructions: Please watch the entire 1-hour lecture by Yale biologist Robert Wyman.  From watching this video lecture, you will get a sense of the reasons why Europe experienced a population explosion in the 1700s and why some political economists, such as Thomas Malthus, worried that the population might exceed the food supply.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2.2 Cottage Industry or Proto-Industrialization   - Reading: University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Dr. Gregory Brown’s “Proto-Industrialization” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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9.3 Building an Atlantic Economy   9.3.1 Mercantilism and Colonial Wars   Note: This topic is covered by the resources beneath sub-subunit 9.3.2.

9.3.2 The Growth of Foreign Trade   - Reading: Dr. Joseph E. Inikori’s “The Atlantic World Slave Economy and the Development Process in England, 1650-1850” and Western New England College: Professor Gerhard Rempel’s “Mercantilism” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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9.3.3 Adam Smith and Economic Liberalism   - Reading: Liberty Fund’s Concise Encyclopedia of Economics Entry on “Adam Smith;” Columbia University’s version of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nation: “The Case for Free Trade and Lower Taxes;” Fordham University: The Modern History Sourcebook: Excerpts from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” Links: Liberty Fund’s Concise Encyclopedia of Economics Entry on “Adam Smith” (HTML); Columbia University’s version of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:The Case for Free Trade and Lower Taxes” (HTML); Fordham University: The Modern History Sourcebook: Excerpts from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations" (HTML)

 Instructions:  First, please read the encyclopedia article on “Adam
Smith” for some background.  Then, read Washington State University
and the Modern History Sourcebook’s excerpts from the Wealth of
Nations.   
    
 Perhaps the most influential book of the eighteenth century, Adam
Smith’s *Wealth of Nations,* sharply criticizes the
mercantilism—protective trade policies—that European imperial powers
had embraced for over a century.  Smith, a Scottish moral
philosopher, advocates free trade as the most progressive and
beneficial commercial policy of the modern era.  In the first
excerpt, he argues that if capital is allowed to travel freely,
rather than being controlled by government or state-supported
monopolies, then it will naturally travel to the most productive
outlets; Smith calls this phenomenon the “invisible hand” of a free
market economy.  In the second excerpt, Smith describes how modern
capitalism should work ideally and why this is good for society
overall.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.4 Domestic Life in the Eighteenth Century   9.4.1 Women and Family Life   - Reading: LisaHistory.net: Lisa M. Lane’s “18th Century Society and Economy: Marriage and Family Life” Link: LisaHistory.net: Lisa M. Lane’s “18th Century Society and Economy: Marriage and Family Life” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article linked above.  This article provides a good overview of family life in the eighteenth century.  Lisa M. Lane teaches history at MiraCosta College.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.4.2 European Medicine in the Eighteenth Century   - Reading: Institute of History Research: Anne Hardy’s “The Medical Response to Epidemic Disease in the Long Eighteenth Century” Link: Institute of Historical Research: Anne Hardy’s “The Medical Response to Epidemic Disease in the Long Eighteenth Century” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article linked above.  This reading will give you a sense of Europeans’ medical knowledge in the eighteenth century.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.4.3 Towns   - Reading: Western New England College: Professor Gerhard Rempel’s “The 18th Century Town and Its Inhabitants” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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