Energy and the English Industrial Revolution by E. A. Wrigley

By E. A. Wrigley

The commercial revolution remodeled the effective strength of societies. It did so through enormously expanding the person productiveness, therefore offering entire populations from poverty. during this new account through one of many world's stated gurus the imperative factor isn't really easily how the revolution begun yet nonetheless extra why it didn't fast finish. the reply lay within the use of a brand new resource of power. Pre-industrial societies had entry merely to very constrained strength provides. so long as mechanical strength got here largely from human or animal muscle and warmth power from wooden, the utmost possible point of productiveness was once guaranteed to be low. Exploitation of a brand new resource of power within the kind of coal supplied an get away course from the limitations of an natural financial system but in addition introduced novel risks. on the grounds that this occurred first in England, its adventure has a unique fascination, even though different international locations swiftly go well with.

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The Parish Register Abstracts which were published as part of the 1801 census left no room for doubt that population growth had been rapid for much of the eighteenth century and was accelerating. As a result of the census, and also of his extensive inquiries about events in other countries, Malthus’s model of economic and demographic change became less simplistic. He came to place much greater emphasis on the importance of the preventive check (essentially marriage behaviour) in determining population growth rates and less on the positive check (mortality), at least in some European populations.

76. Allen, basing his estimate on the work of Gregory King, suggested a figure of 30 per cent for 1700:€Allen, ‘Agriculture during the industrial revolution’, tab. 6, p. 112. 1300, it is reasonable to suppose, the fallow percentage was a little over a third of the arable area:€Wrigley, ‘Advanced organic economy’, pp. 440–2. The suggested figure for the late sixteenth century is therefore at best a rough approximation. 15 At the beginning of the period, of 100 acres of arable land available for wheat growing 30 acres would have been fallow and the remaining 70 acres would have produced a net yield of 560 bushels (70 × 8 bushels).

24 25 The transition to an energy-rich economy 33 Manpower productivity in agriculture The rise in agricultural output per acre in England set her apart from much of the continent, but her case was not unique. The advances taking place in England were paralleled in the Low Countries. Crop yields in Belgium in the early modern period, for example, appear to have risen by a comparable amount, and the introduction of crop rotations and the use of legumes followed a similar pattern. But there was one feature of English agriculture which was without parallel elsewhere.

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