STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
15 Economic Change and the Expansion of the State
IN THIS CHAPTER
Summary: In the eighteenth century, the influx of capital generated by colonial trade in Great Britain and France spurred changes in agricultural and manufacturing production that destroyed the last vestiges of feudalism and converted the peasantry and guildsmen into wage laborers, a process that began as early as the fourteenth century with the demographic changes resulting from the Black Plague. This chapter describes these economic changes, the resulting social and political changes in Great Britain and France, and the efforts of other European powers to catch up.
The Commonwealth The period (1649—1660) during which England was ruled without a monarch, following the victory of the Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War and the subsequent execution of Charles I.
The Restoration The period of English history (1660—1688) following the Commonwealth and preceding the Glorious Revolution. It encompassed the reigns of Charles II (1660—1685) and James II (1685—1688).
The Glorious Revolution The quick, nearly bloodless uprising (1688) that coordinated Parliament-led uprisings in England with the invasion of a Protestant fleet and army from the Netherlands and led to the expulsion of James II and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in England under William and Mary.
Constitutional monarchy A theory of government that contends that a rightful ruler’s power is limited by an agreement with his or her subjects.
Two Treatises on Government A philosophical work (1690) by the Englishman John Locke, which became the primary argument for the establishment of natural limits to governmental authority.
Versailles The great palace of the French monarchs, located 11 miles outside of Paris, which was the center of court life and political power in France from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789.
Tsars The hereditary monarchs of Russia.
Law Code of 1649 Legislation in Russia that converted the legal status of groups as varied as peasants and slaves into that of a single class of serfs.
Manorial system The traditional economic system of Europe, developed in the medieval period, in which landowning elites (lords of the manor) held vast estates divided into small plots of arable land farmed by peasants for local consumption.
Cash crops Crops grown for sale and export in the market-oriented approach that replaced the manorial system during the Agricultural Revolution of the eighteenth century.
Enclosure The building of hedges, fences, and walls to deny the peasantry access to traditional farming plots and common lands, which had been converted to fields for cash crops during the Agricultural Revolution of the eighteenth century.
Putting-out system (also “cottage industry”) A system in which rural peasants engaged in small-scale textile manufacturing. It was developed in the eighteenth century to allow merchants, faced with an ever-expanding demand for textiles, to get around the guild system.
Guilds Exclusive organizations that monopolized the skilled trades in Europe from the medieval period until broken by the development of cottage industry in the eighteenth century.
Flying shuttle A machine invented in 1733 by John Kay that doubled the speed at which cloth could be woven on a loom, creating a need to find a way to produce greater amounts of thread faster.
Spinning jenny A machine invented in the 1760s by James Hargreaves that greatly increased the amount of thread a single spinner could produce from cotton, creating a need to speed up the harvesting of cotton.
Cotton gin A machine invented in 1793 by an American, Eli Whitney, that efficiently removed seed from raw cotton, thereby increasing the speed with which it could be processed and sent to the spinners.
Diplomatic Revolution The mid-eighteenth-century shift in European alliances, whereby the expansionist aims of Frederick II of Prussia caused old enemies to become allies. Prussia, fearful of being isolated by its enemies, forged an alliance in 1756 with its former enemy Great Britain; Austria and France, previously antagonistic toward one another, responded by forging an alliance of their own.
The Seven Years’ War (1756—1763) A conflict that pitted France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain against Prussia, Great Britain, and the German state of Hanover in a contest for control of both the European Continent and the New World in North America.
King Charles II (England)
King James II (England)
Cardinal Jules Mazarin
King Louis XIV (France)
Catherine the Great (Russia)
Frederick II (Prussia)
In the second half of the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century, Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, France, surpassed Spain, Portugal, and Holland as the dominant economic and political powers in Europe. As they did so, the political struggle among the elites reached their respective climaxes.
Great Britain and France rose to prominence by controlling the majority of the increasingly lucrative Triangular Trade Networks that connected Europe to Africa and the Americas (see Chapter 13). The resulting wealth and prosperity set in motion a series of innovations that radically changed European agricultural and manufacturing production, which in turn produced changes in the social structure of Europe. Competition between Great Britain and France, and the desire of their eastern European rivals to catch up, led to innovations in diplomacy and war—the twin processes by which eighteenth-century European rulers built and expanded their states.
Great Britain: The Triumph of Constitutionalism
The Commonwealth (1649—1660) deteriorated into a fundamentalist Protestant dictatorship under the rule of the Parliamentary army’s leading general, Oliver Cromwell. Upon Cromwell’s death in 1658, English Parliamentarians worked to establish a Restoration (1660—1688) of the English monarchy, inviting the son of the king they executed to take the throne as Charles II (1660—1685).
The relative peace of the Restoration period broke down when Charles’s brother, a Catholic, ascended the throne as James II (1685—1688). James was determined to establish religious freedom for Catholics, to avenge his father’s death, and to restore absolute monarchy to Great Britain. To thwart James’s plans, Parliament enlisted the aid of the king’s eldest daughter, Mary, the Protestant wife of William of Orange of the Netherlands. The quick, nearly bloodless uprising that coordinated Parliament-led uprisings with the invasion of a Protestant fleet and army from the Netherlands led to the quick expulsion of James II in 1688. This is known as the Glorious Revolution. The reign of William and Mary marks the clear establishment of a constitutional monarchy, a system by which the monarch rules within the limits of the laws passed by a legislative body. The text written by the leading legal spokesman of the Parliamentary faction, John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (1690), is still read today as the primary argument for the establishment of natural limits to governmental authority.
France: The Triumph of Absolutism
The policies of Cardinal Richelieu were continued by his successor, Cardinal Jules Mazarin, and perfected by Louis XIV (r. 1643—1715) when he took full control of the government upon Mazarin’s death in 1661. To the intimidation tactics practiced by Richelieu and Mazarin, Louis added bribery. Building the great palace at Versailles, 11 miles outside of Paris, Louis presented the nobility of France with a choice: oppose him and face destruction or join him and be part of the most lavish court in Europe. In choosing to spend most of their time at Versailles, French nobles forfeited the advantages that made their English Parliamentary counterparts so powerful: control of both the wealth and loyalty of their local provinces and districts. As a result, Louis XIV became known as “the Sun King,” because all French life seemed to revolve around him as the planets revolved around the sun.
Russia: Tsarist Absolutism
The seventeenth-century kingdom farthest to the east proved to be an exception to the rule. Its monarchs, the tsars, managed to achieve a high degree of absolutism despite an agricultural economy based on serfdom and the lack of an alliance with a thriving middle class.
Beginning in 1613 and reaching its zenith with the reign of Peter the Great (1689—1725), the Romanov tsars consolidated their power by buying the loyalty of the nobility. In return for their loyalty, the Romanov tsars gave the nobility complete control over the classes of people below them. A prime example is the Law Code of 1649, which converted the legal status of groups as varied as peasants and slaves into that of a single class of serfs. Under the Romanov tsars, the Russian nobility also enjoyed the fruit of new lands and wealth acquired by aggressive expansion of the Russian empire eastward into Asia.
With the nobility firmly tied to the tsar, opposition to the tsar’s power manifested itself only periodically in the form of revolts from coalitions of smaller landholders and peasants angered by the progressive loss of their wealth and rights. Such revolts, like the revolts of the Cossacks in the 1660s and early 1670s, were ruthlessly put down by the tsar’s increasingly modern military forces. The smaller landholders and peasants were controlled thereafter by the creation of a state bureaucracy modeled on those of Western Europe, and by encouraging the primacy and importance of the Russian Orthodox Church, which taught that the traditional social hierarchy was mandated by God.
Breaking the Traditional Cycle of Population and Productivity
The enormous wealth generated by the British and French colonies and the Triangular Trade Networks created pressure for social change that eventually affected the whole populations of both Great Britain and France. The effects were felt more strongly in Great Britain and led to changes that, taken together, constituted the first phase of the Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain and then spread eastward throughout Europe. This Industrial Revolution broke the traditional cycle of population and productivity.
The traditional cycle of population and productivity worked like this:
• Population and productivity rose together, as an increase in the number of people working in an agricultural economy increased the agricultural yield.
• Eventually, the agricultural yield reached the maximum amount that could be produced given the land available and the methods in use.
• For a while, population would continue to rise, but eventually, as the number of people far outstripped the agricultural yield, food became scarce and expensive.
• Scarcity and high prices eventually caused the population to decline.
• When the population was safely below the possible productivity, the cycle began again.
In the eighteenth century, several developments related to new wealth combined to break this cycle:
• Agriculture became market oriented.
• Rural manufacturing spread capital throughout the population.
• Increased demand led to technical innovation.
The new market orientation of agriculture created a shift from farming for local consumption to a reliance on imported food sold at markets. The introduction of rural manufacturing put larger amounts of currency into the system and made the working population less dependent on land and agricultural cycles, thereby breaking the natural check on population growth.
The increase in population created more mouths to feed. The existence of a vast colonial empire of trade created an increasingly wealthy merchant class of individuals who both bought land from, and affected the behavior of, traditional landholding elites. The result was the destruction of the traditional manorial system in which landowning elites (lords of the manor) held vast estates divided into small plots of arable land farmed by peasants for local consumption and vast grounds, known as “commons,” where peasants grazed their livestock. That system was slowly replaced by a market-oriented approach in which cash crops were grown for sale and export.
The shift to a cash-crop system created pressure that led to the reorganization of the social structure of the countryside. The traditional landowning elites abandoned their feudal obligations to the peasantry and adopted the attitude of the merchant class. Cash crops created a demand for larger fields. Landowners responded by instituting a process known as “enclosure,” because of the hedges, fences, and walls that were built to deny the peasantry access to the commons, which had been converted to fields for cash crops. Later, the landowners extended enclosure into other arable lands, breaking traditional feudal agreements and gradually transforming much of the peasantry into wage labor. By the middle of the eighteenth century, three-quarters of the arable land in England was enclosed informally or “by agreement” (though the peasantry had not, in fact, been given any choice); after 1750, the process continued more formally as land was enclosed via acts of Parliament.
The increase in population also created greater demand for the other necessities of life, particularly clothing. In the feudal system, all aspects of textile production had been under the control of guilds (which were organizations of skilled laborers, such as spinners and weavers), which enjoyed the protection of town officials. Membership in a guild was gained only through a lengthy apprenticeship. In that way, the guilds kept competition to a minimum and controlled the supply of textiles, thereby guaranteeing that they could make a decent living. In the eighteenth century, merchants faced with an ever-expanding demand for textiles had to find a way around the guild system; the result was a system of rural manufacturing, known variously as “cottage industry” or “the putting-out system.”
In the putting-out system, merchants went into the countryside and engaged the peasantry in small-scale textile production. Each month, a merchant would provide raw material and rent equipment to peasant families. At the end of the month, he would return and pay the family for whatever thread or cloth they had produced. Initially, peasant families supplemented their agricultural income in this way; eventually, some of them gave up farming altogether and pooled their resources to create small textile mills in the countryside. As the system grew, the guilds of the town were unable to compete with the mills, and cottage industry replaced the urban guilds as the center for textile production.
The new system of rural manufacturing went hand in hand with the shift to market-oriented agriculture; the destruction of the manorial system could not have been accomplished if the cash flowing into the economy did not find its way into the hands of the rural population. The creation of cottage industries provided the cash that enabled rural families to buy their food, rather than having to grow it themselves.
However, the social change that accompanied the destruction of both the manorial system and the guilds also brought hardship and insecurity. The enclosure movement meant that thousands of small landholders, tenant farmers, and sharecroppers lost their land and their social status. Forced to work for wages, their lives and those of their families were now at the mercy of the marketplace. The destruction of the guilds produced similar trauma for the artisans whose livelihood had been protected by the guilds and their families. For both the peasantry and the artisans, the economic and social changes of the eighteenth century meant the destruction of their traditional place and status in society; they were now faced with both new opportunity and great insecurity.
Technical Innovations in Agriculture and Manufacturing
It is important to remember that technical innovations are always responses to new challenges. The people of earlier centuries did not fail to innovate because they were less intelligent; they simply had no need for the innovations. The ever-growing population and demand for food and goods in the eighteenth century created a series of related demands that eventually led to technical innovations in both agriculture and manufacturing. Single innovations often created a need for further innovation in a different part of the process.
The key technical innovation in the agricultural sector in the eighteenth century was the replacement of the old three-field system (in which roughly one-third of the land was left fallow to allow the soil to replenish itself with the necessary nutrients to produce crops) with new crops, such as clover, turnips, and potatoes, which replenished the soil while also producing foodstuffs that could be used to feed livestock in winter. More and healthier livestock contributed to the creation of products as varied as dairy and leather.
In the manufacturing sector, a number of interconnected technical innovations greatly increased the pace and output of the textile industry:
• In 1733, John Kay invented the flying shuttle, which doubled the speed at which cloth could be woven on a loom, creating a need to find a way to produce greater amounts of thread faster.
• In the 1760s, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, which greatly increased the amount of thread a single spinner could produce from cotton, creating a need to speed up the harvesting of cotton.
• In 1793, the American Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which efficiently removed seed from raw cotton, thereby increasing the speed with which it could be processed and sent to the spinners.
These technical innovations greatly increased the pace and productivity of the textile industry. The need to supervise these larger, faster machines also contributed to the development of centralized textile mills, which replaced the scattered putting-out system by the end of the eighteenth century.
The prosperity and power of Great Britain and France caused their eastern European rivals to try to strengthen and modernize their kingdoms.
In Prussia, Frederick William I built a strong centralized government in which the military, under the command of the nobles, played a dominant role. In 1740, his successor Frederick II (the Great) used that military to extend Prussia into lands controlled by the Habsburgs. Challenging the right of Maria Theresa to ascend the throne of Austria (which was a right guaranteed her by a document known as “the Pragmatic Sanction”), Frederick II marched troops into Silesia. In what came to be known as the War of the Austrian Succession (1740—1748), Maria Theresa was able to rally Austrian and Hungarian troops to fight Prussia and its allies, the French, Spanish, Saxons, and Bavarians, resulting in a standoff.
In Russia, the progress toward modernization and centralization made under Peter the Great had largely been undone in the first half of the eighteenth century. However, under the leadership of Catherine the Great, Russia defeated the Ottoman Turks in 1774, thereby extending Russia’s borders as far as the Black Sea and the Balkan Peninsula. In 1775, Russia joined with Prussia and Austria to conquer Poland and to divide its territories among the three of them.
War and Diplomacy
In eighteenth-century Europe, state-building was still primarily conducted through war and diplomacy. The competition between Great Britain and France in the Triangular Trade Networks meant that they would contend militarily for control of colonies in North America and the Caribbean; in addition, the desire to weaken one another also led them to become entangled in land wars in Europe.
The expansionist aims of Frederick II of Prussia led to a shift in diplomatic alliances, which is now referred to as the Diplomatic Revolution:
• Prussia, fearful of being isolated by its enemies, forged an alliance in 1756 with its former enemy, Great Britain.
• Austria and France, previously antagonistic toward one another, were so alarmed by the alliance of Prussia and Great Britain that they forged an alliance of their own.
Colonial and continental rivalries combined to bring all of the great European powers into conflict during the Seven Years’ War (1756—1763). Land and sea battles were fought in North America (where the conflict is sometimes referred to as “the French and Indian War”), Europe, and India. The European hostilities were concluded in 1763 by a peace agreement that essentially reestablished prewar boundaries. The North American conflict, and particularly the fall of Quebec in 1759, shifted the balance of power in North America to the British. The British had similar success in India.
As the eighteenth century progressed, the nature of European armies and wars changed in ways that would have profound implications for the ruling regimes:
• The size of the standing armies increased.
• The officer corps became full-time servants of the state.
• Troops consisted of conscripts, volunteers, mercenaries, and criminals who were pressed into service.
• Discipline and training became harsher and more extensive.
At the same time, weapons and tactics changed to accommodate the new armies:
• Muskets became more efficient and more accurate.
• Cannons became more mobile.
• Wars were now decided not by a decisive battle, but by a superior organization of resources.
• Naval battles were now often more crucial than land battles.
Questions 1—3 refer to the following passage:
The political dominance of large landowners determined the course of enclosure. . . . [I]t was their power in Parliament and as local Justices of the Peace that enabled them to redistribute the land in their own favor.
A typical round of enclosure began when several, or even a single, prominent landholder initiated it . . . by petition to Parliament. . . . [T]he commissioners were invariably of the same class and outlook as the major landholders who had petitioned in the first place, [so] it was not surprising that the great landholders awarded themselves the best land and the most of it, thereby making England a classic land of great, well-kept estates with a small marginal peasantry and a large class of rural wage laborers.
Joseph R. Stromberg, “English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization: Two Instances of an Anti-Peasant Mode of Development,” 1995
1. Stromberg sees the seventeenth-century English Parliament and justices of the peace as primarily which of the following?
A. Protectors of the rights of agricultural laborers
B. Political innovations
C. A check on agricultural innovation
D. Instruments of the landowning class
2. Which statement best describes the petitioning process by which enclosure was carried out?
A. It favored the interests of urban industry.
B. It favored the interests of the landowning class.
C. It was fair and balanced.
D. It promoted cottage industry.
3. The enclosure movement made England into a society characterized by
A. great economic inequity.
B. great economic opportunity.
Chapter Question (Causation)
4. Briefly explain the rise of technical innovation in eighteenth-century agriculture. Illustrate your explanation with THREE examples.
Answers and Explanations
1. D is correct as the passage asserts that Parliament and local justices of the peace “enabled [large landowners] to redistribute the land in their own favor.” A is incorrect as the passage indicates that Parliament and local justices of the peace looked out for the interests of the landowning classes, not of the agricultural laborers. B is incorrect because nothing in the passage refers to political innovation. C is incorrect because the passage indicates that Parliament and local justices of the peace helped to bring about enclosure, which was an agricultural innovation.
2. B is correct because the passage indicates that the commissioners who oversaw the petitioning process were of the landowning class and “awarded themselves the best land and the most of it.” A is incorrect because the passage makes no reference to urban industry. C is incorrect because the passage clearly indicates that the process favored the landowning class. D is incorrect because the passage makes no reference to cottage industry.
3. A is correct because the last sentence of the passage indicates that enclosure created an England in which the landowning classes had great, landed estates, while the peasantry was “marginal,” and the rest of the population were reduced to being “wage laborers.” B is incorrect because the passage makes no reference to enclosure furthering economic opportunity. C and D are incorrect because the passage makes no reference to industrialization or urbanization.
4. Suggested answer:
Thesis: The rise of technical innovation in eighteenth-century agriculture was a response to the rising demand for food and goods created by an increasing population. The process of innovation was spurred on by its reciprocal nature, as innovation in one sector of the process created a demand for innovation in other sectors.
I. For example, the increasing population created an increased demand for textile production. That demand created a need for faster ways to process larger amounts of wool and cotton goods. As a response, the flying shuttle was developed in 1733 to increase the speed at which cloth could be woven; the spinning jenny was developed in the 1760s to increase the amount of thread that could be spun by a single spinner; and the cotton gin was developed in 1793 to increase the speed with which seeds could be removed from cotton.
II. The process of innovation in one aspect of textile production created a demand for innovation in other aspects. By doubling the speed at which cloth could be woven, the flying shuttle created a demand for greater amounts of thread. That demand was met by the spinning jenny, which increased the amount of thread that could be produced by a single spinner, but that in turn created a demand for faster, more efficient harvesting of cotton. That demand was met by the cotton gin.
In the eighteenth century, Great Britain and France continued down their respective paths toward constitutionalism and absolutism. Concurrently, they came to dominate the lucrative Triangular Trade Networks, which allowed valuable raw materials from North America and the Caribbean to be imported to Europe in exchange for serving as a market for manufactured goods and for slaves acquired from Africa. The influx of capital generated by the colonial trade served as a spur for unchecked population growth made possible by an agricultural revolution and the creation of a system of rural manufacturing. The changes in agricultural and manufacturing production destroyed the last vestiges of an economic system (manorialism) and a social system (feudalism) that dated back to the medieval period. In that process, both the traditional European peasantry and the guildsmen were converted to wage labor.
The intensifying rivalry between Great Britain and France, and the growing ambition of their Eastern European counterparts, led to a series of mid-century wars, including the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War. Rivalries also led to a series of innovations in diplomacy and warfare.
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