A History of Modern Europe

Essay by porcupinetree October 2007

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Britain changed a lot between 1750 and 1900. This period is called the Industrial Revolution. In 1750 most people lived in the countryside. They lived in small villages, growing crops and animals. By 1900, most people worked in towns. Even in the countryside, things changed. This was because of several reasons:In the early 18th century most people lived and worked in the countryside, on the land. Most villages had about 3 large fields which were divided into strips, but by the end of the century this had changed, and most fields had become enclosed. Enclosure meant that the strips were melded into larger parcels of land, owned by wealthier farmers. They were fenced off from their neighbor. (Lim & Smith, 1-15)Between 1750 and 1900 Britain built up an empire. Britain wanted an empire so they could create better access to different parts of the world for good trade, and for the English to be powerful.

The importation and exportation of goods to England reached a peak at that time, due to the British Empire. The slave trade also helped Britain become a very rich country. This affected the Industrial Revolution because Britain gained from the slave trade by being able to buy sugar, tobacco, rum and cotton cheaply. The British merchants became rich, so with their money they built factories, canals and railways that everyone benefited from. (Merriman 100-114)The new system led to the emergence of a working class (proletariat) and forced them to depend on market conditions in order to survive. Although happy with this state of things at first, those who became employed had to put up with very bad conditions. Arnold Toynbee made an assessment of this new state of things and concluded that the working class had low wages, long hours, unsafe conditions, and...