Saturday, January 7, 2023


  Eli-express       Saturday, January 7, 2023

THE RISE OF CAPITALISM IN EUROPE | The rise of capitalism and the development of Europe | CAPITALISM IN EUROPE | THE RISE OF CAPITALISM | History of capitalism | how agrarian revolution contributed to the rise of capitalism in Europe? |


Feudalism is a term delivered from the Latin word “feudum” meaning fief or an estate of land held on behalf of a lord and in return the holder of the land offered military service and other services to the lord.

Thus, a feudal society is the one in which the basic social and political structure are determined by a practice of fief holding. In other words, feudalism is based on holding of land for renting.

A feudal mode of production, therefore, was based on lord’s ownership of the land as well as incomplete or partial ownership of the peasants and serfs living on the land. The dependent serfs farmed and ran small economies on the land belonging to the feudal lords. Moreover, the relationship between the land lord and his tenants (serfs) was not only an economic one but also social one. The tenant was a vassal of the lord, that is her or she was bound to the lord by special oath of loyalty.

The basic features of feudalism

1. There was bounded relationship between the lords and tenants. The lord normally exercised right of jurisdiction in the land which he held as a fief. The landlord was a governor of the fief.

2. There was antagonistic classes of lords and the serfs. The function was mainly due to exploitative tendencies of the lords. The lords exploited the serfs.

3. Under feudalism the two dominant classes were feudal lords and tenants. Tenants were attached to the soils for the production of substance as well as surplus. The surplus was consumed mainly by the landlords.

4. Production was for subsistence i.e. serfs producers mainly for food and less for exchange.

5. Feudalism in Europe went hand with the building of armies. The armies and other willing class –kings and nobles supported themselves from the produce of their estates. Serfs were the producer in the lords or willing class estates.

6. In feudalism the feudal activities were basically agrarian (for food production) although few industries existed, many people were attached to the soil, that is cultivating the soil to earn a living.


Agrarian revolution refers to the rapid changes which occurred in agriculture sector. The changes were accompanied by the application of science and technology. In Britain, agriculture revolution happened between the 16th Century and 18th Century.

Before the agrarian revolution in Britain, agricultural production was very low. The low productions of agricultural produce were party caused by the land tenure. Land was divided, owned and worked by serfs or peasants.

Most of the land was also left fallow ie the large part of the land was not under farming. In addition to low production in agricultural the majority of population in pre-agranal revolution.

Britain engaged themselves in agriculture. It is estimated that eight percent of Britian’s population were working on the land. Generally, there was low production in agricultural sector before the agrarian revolution. However, there was an increment in agricultural production because changes which constituted agranian revolution.

This is the drastic change in agricultural production through better technique, methods and land tenure. It started in 1450 -1750 but reached maturity in 1801. Agranian revolution started in Netherland-Holland and later English.

Causes of Agrarian revolution

The changes in agricultural production were caused mainly by two factors:

1. The first cause was the rapid increase of population. The large population necessitated the changes in the methods on producing crops and animals so as to cope with the high demand of force from the populate.

The population of Europe as a world and Britian in particular was steadily increasing between 15th and 18th centuries, For example the population of Europe rose from sixty –nine million people to 188million people between 15th and 18th centuries. This increase of population mainly happened in the cities and towns.

2. The second factor was high demand of wool. The high demand of wool led to sheep commercial farming. The commercial sheep farming in the 16th century due to the demand of wool clothes.

Changes that took place during Agrarian revolution

The agrarian revolution in Britian entailed the following changes

Crop rotation.

Unlike the pre-agranian revolution times, farmers of 16 th and 18 th centuries Britian started to practice crop rotation. They rotated cereal crops with legumes and fodder crops. Legumes crop-peas, beans and clovers-restored nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen makes soil fertile. One example of farmer who in 1730 grew fodder crops in rotation with other crops was lord Town shed. The second change was the introduction of new crops in Britian crops such as maize, sweat potatoes and fodder crops were introduced in England from the Americans.

The introduction fodder crops led to the constant supply of meat throughout the year because the presence of fodder crops made it possible to make bay for use during writer. This was sharp departure from the pre-agrarian revolution error when all the cattle and other animals were slaughetered during writer for lack of feed. The use of improved farm instrument. Examples of instruments which were used included iron plough and Jethro Tull’s seed drill. Extensive use of time to neutralize soil acidity. In addition to liming, farmers applied fertilizers in their farms.

Land reclamation

In order to get more arable land big farmers embarked on draining swam ply land, for example: King Charles I of England financed a Dutch expert- Cornelius Vermigden-to drain Yorkshire and Cambridge shire. Irrigation also practiced during the agricultural revolution. Another aspect of the agrarian revolution was the improvement in animal breeding. Better horses, cattle and sheep were raised.

It was during the agrarian revolution that farmerskept animals for multipurpose. For example, a farmer in Leicester called Bake well produced a large quantities of beef and mutton to feed millions of people. The agrarian revolution involved the evection of serfs and peasants from the land for pasture i.e. Enclosure of the land.


The agrarian revolution had a number of contributions to the rise capitalism in Europe.

Increase of supply of food to the growing population in cities including workers in the factories. The agrarian revolution especially the enclosing of land released to the growing workers in the The agrarian revolution especially the enclosing of land released or supplied cheap labours to industries.

Many serfs and peasants who were evicted from the land for commercial sheep farming (enclosure) were employed in factories in towns and cities. The agricultural changes also provided market to the industrial manufactured items. In other words, agricultural entrepreneur bought industrial goods needed in agricultural sector. The change in agriculture supplied raw material needed in industries.

One important raw material the agrarian revolution provided to textile industries was wool. Farmers kept sheep commercially for selling wool-wool come from sheep-to industries. In industries the farmers accumulated capital which they invested in industries and trade. The agricultural revolution also marked the end of small scale or peasant production. The peasant production was replaced by the capitalist farmers.


This means consolidation of scattered enable land and common land into a simple compact area of land that is fenced.


1. Enclosure of common land. This was the enclosure of waste land, the process of enclosure of waste land and common land was carried out in 16th and 17th centuries. Sometimes it was an agreement between villages.

2. Enclosure of landlords between 1475 –1570. This was the period when there was an increase of wool demand due to the expansion of wool.

3. Enclosure of land into strips. This was done by purchasing land from the farmers or owners.

Impacts of the introduction of the Enclosure System in Britain

Freeing of labours from land. Labours were free to sell their labour under their own discretions.

Migration of people.

Peasants were deprived of the right to own land (common land)

Labours were turned to commodities.

Rise of unemployment due to emergence of landless people

Made capitalist to own both rural and urban economy (industries and agriculture)

Led to the rise of proletariats.



It refers to large scale trade or commercial trade conducted through overseas.

Mercantilism: Is the first stage of capitalism that appeared during 15th C where by trade and commerce was conducted by European countries with the continent of Africa, Asia and America through overseas trade and also silver (precious metal) were used as the coin.

Is the period during which feudalism collapsed (demised) as the result of long distance trade conducted between Western Europe countries and other continents in the 15th C.


Is the first stage of capitalism where by its economic system was based on trade and commerce conducted through over seas trade during 15th C-18th C and during this trade a country attracted itself to the use of precious metals (gold and silver) in European transaction.


  1. National Unification

Is the unifying of small states to form one strong state for expansion of internal market, removal of trade barriers and the use of raw materials and other sources available in the same nation.

Therefore during the period of merchantilism many European countries were undergoing national unification so as to become one strong state and be in position to compete with other nations. E.g. England,Wales and Scotland joined to form United Kingdom (Great Britain).

  1. Bullionism

During this period there was adaptation and application of gold and silver as the medium of exchange because gold and silver were used as coins in European transaction; hence European merchants struggled more and more to get gold and silver from different parts of the world like Zimbabwe, Ghana.etc.

  1. Protectionism

During merchantilism European countries protected trade where by each country protected her internal market and natural resources available in a country. This was done in order to protect the interest of trade by not allowing other European countries to compete with them. E.g. United Kingdom protected internal market by acting navigation acts and impose trade barriers such as custom duties and tariff.

  1. National rivalry and militarism.

During the period, merchantilism in many European countries intensified their enemity among themselves which brought constant military confrontation. E.g. Britain fought many wars with French, Spain with Portugal for economic interests. Example Britain decided to undergo navy forces during the rule of Tudor monarchy in order to piracy the wealth of other European merchants for development of capitalism in Britain.

  1. Colonialism

During this period many European countries began to look for other economic interests in other countries in different parts of the world. The Aim was to colonize countries for economic interests such as raw materials, labour, market and areas for investments. Example The Dutch at the cape of South Africa 1652 where they wanted to control and unite South Africa, Spanish and Portugal wanted to control Australia and Canada.

  1. Banking sector/financial institutions

These financial institutions provided loans and credit to the European merchants in order to continue conducting overseas trade and development of science and technology especially marine technology, ship building, compass direction, compass bearing, etc. These institutions were Barclays bank and house of Lloyd s.


There were various factors that led to the rise of merchantalism they are as follows;

  1. Internal trade (inter trade and craft).

The Development of guilds and craftsmen during the period of collapse of European feudalism led to the rise of merchantalism because commodities produced by craftsmen and people who were involved in guilds which accelerated the internal trade example ornaments, plates, mirrors, were later on exported to other parts of the world particularly in Africa, hence the rise of mercantilism.

  1. Periodic exhibition among European nations.

This promoted the existence of overseas trade among European countries, Africa, Asia and America because the new commodities which were exhibited and new technology acted as the acceleration of merchantilism because merchants and other people of different parts of the world were interested to use the commodities that were exhibited.

  1. The development of marine technology with compass direction and compass bearing.

During the 15th century, Europe witnessed rapid changes in scientific curiosity and inquiry. That was a century in which the scientific revolution took firm roots. Meanwhile marine technology among the European nations enabled the merchants to sail even deep sea. The nations and merchants also constructed large ships which could carry bulky materials such as cotton, tobacco and minerals. Merchants benefited greatly from the marine technology as they could sail to various parts of the world.

  1. Development of financial institutions and insurance company.

These provided loans; credit and services to European merchants in order to continue involving in trading activities; so the role played by these institutions accumulated more wealth which they used on investment of economic sector hence the rise of merchantalism.

  1. The Rise of strong states and political revolution

This provided security among merchants. Example; British after the revolution which removed King Charles I & II from power gave rise of Tudor monarchy. Example The rise of King Henry the navigator facilitated the rise of merchantalism like loans and credit and in France after king Louis was removed from power, French managed to get involved in merchant trade.

  1. The role played by enclosure system

This was brought by agrarian revolution, it played a great and important role towards the development of merchantalism because the large scale plantations were established and increase an output of agricultural industrial raw materials like wool, wheat flour, and these agricultural raw materials increased manufactured goods in industries which were needed by European merchants for their own use.

  1. Geographical discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus on 24.10, 1492

led to establishment of plantation and mines in America, Canada, Peru, Colombia, etc.So the establishment of these needed slave labour from Africa after the failure of the red Indians and expressiveness of European criminals and prisoners, hence this led to the establishment of merchantalism because Europeans were in need of raw materials.

  1. Profitability of unequal exchange

During this period, European got more wealth by using illegal ways like piracy, kidnapping etc. but also they used to sell in Africa commodities of low value and things, which were unsellable in Europe, things such as mirror, while they obtained things of high value from African continent like Ivory. So this led to the rise and development of merchantalism.

  1. Crusade war

This was a religious war between European (Christians) vs. Arabs (Muslims) in the Middle East near Turkey to control trade and capture the whole city. This made the way to become insecure for European traders but also Arabs controlled the trade routes whereby they increased tariffs to European traders. This forced Europeans to the alternative way to reach India (Asia) and Africa for conducting trade. Hence development and the rise of merchantilism.


Western Europe and Africa had a relationship which ensured the transfer of wealth from Africa to Europe. According to W. Rodney on his book “How Europe under-developed Africa” 1972 argued that; over that period Africa helped to develop Western Europe and at the same time Europe under-developed Africa.

Trade helped Europe to get numerous developments also the North America benefited from this mercantilism while Africa did not benefit.


1. Gold and silver accumulated during this period played a very important role in expanding capitalist capital in the economy of Western Europe because it was gold and silver that determined the value of capitalist to develop in terms of money.

2. These trades speed up the European technological development. Example the Trade helped the Europeans in the development of ship building from the 15 th C-19 th C where by sea going vessels of different sizes were designed for slave trade and carrying raw materials from America to Europe and later carry commodities to other parts of the world where markets were available.

3. Merchantalism led to the rise of Sea ports town like Liverpool, Bristol, etc. in these sea ports towns there was a development of manufacturing centers like Ian Cashing which depended on the growth of the port of river.

4. Speed up the development of industrial sector; industries such as textile industries, flour milling, ship industry etc. With development of industries in Europe, it helped European countries to develop as far as capitalism was concerned.

5. The Capital derived from merchantalism helped to a great deal to strengthen transitional links within Western European economy. Example sugar from Caribbean islands was exported from England to France and other parts of the European continent.

6. Merchantalism continued to be source for capital accumulation by European merchants whereby the capital was to be invested in investments such as banks, industries, transport and communication for European development hence capital accumulation was possible due to much exploitation of African resources during merchantalism.


Africa at large extent was in a negative during this oversea trade because the trade made Africa to be underdeveloped and stagnant all the time, hence the following are the impacts:-

1. Mercantilism led to the rise and fall of some African states. These states grew strong during Trans- Saharan trade like Songhai, Mali, Ghana, Benin but they collapsed because its wealth was destroyed after the establishment of triangular slave trade, but some other states grew strongly after the establishment of mercantilism because its wealth depended on this trade. Example; Dahomey state.

2. Mercantilism led to the rise of state of fear and insecurity among Africans especially in West Africa This was because during mercantilism African leaders were helping the European merchants to capture their fellow Africans and sell to the Europeans, these people were taken as slaves and shipped to the mines and plantations in America. Also the introduction of guns brought political instability among Africans who were fighting among themselves for European interests.

3. Mercantilism led the destruction of African trade which was established among Africans for their own interests by mercantilism. Example, Long Distance Trade conducted from one region to another region, Trans-Saharan trade which was conducted between West Africa and North Africa. This was due to European merchants who changed the outlook of the trade from not benefiting Africans to benefiting Europeans.

4. Mercantilism led to introduction of unequal exchange which was unequal trade whereby during the trade between Africa and European merchants; Europeans benefited due to the value of commodities and raw materials taken from Africa like rhinoceros horns, tortoise shell, coconut oil, ivory, slaves while in exchange Europeans brought to Africa things which were used and could not be sold in Europe. Things such as daggers, empty bottles, ornament, cigarettes, Portuguese wine.etc.

5. Mercantilism led to stagnation of African science and technology especially African local industries and productive forces but also the action of taking Africans as slaves killed science and technology.

6. Mercantilism led to the decline of African agricultural production because in most cases Africans were in state of fear and insecurity and political instability, hence they could not settle together to involve in agricultural production, in Africa led to famine and hunger.

7. Mercantilism led to introduction of slave trade which led to depopulation of African continent because many African young men and energetic were taken as a slaves to offer their labour power in mines and plantations in America.

8. Mercantilism led to the destruction of African culture because during this period Europeans introduced their culture like eating style, dancing style, marriage etc. which all of them meant to kill African culture because Africans ignored their own culture and started to follow European culture.


1. Mercantilism led to the accumulation of capital among Europeans. This led to investment and re-investment in economic sectors like banks, industry, transport and communication hence the capital obtained in mercantilism Led to the rise of industrial capitalism.

2. Mercantilism led to the development of financial institutions and insurance companies. These institutions facilitated the development of capitalism especially industrial capitalism because they provided loans, credit and services to the Europeans merchants to continue involved in overseas trade, hence development of capitalism.

3. Mercantilism led to the development of towns, cities, and sea port towns notably Manchester, Leads, Liverpool, Lisbon, Paris, etc. because in these towns there was development of trade and manufacturing center which developed to industrial cities which attracted many of European population to live in those towns and a lot of town requirement were available in those towns. Example water, electricity, good houses.etc.

4. Mercantilism led to advancement and development of science and technology. Example the sea going science and technology like ship building, compass bearing, compass direction, etc. This was because during mercantilism, ships of different size were designed specifically for carrying slaves from Africa to America and used for carrying raw materials from America to Europe and later commodities were taken from Europe to other parts of the world especially Africa where market was available.

5. Mercantilism led to availability of cheap labour in European plantation, mine, and industries. African slaves were taken in a large quantity during this period to America to offer their labor power in plantations established in Canada, USA, etc. but others offered their labor power in European mines established in Peru, Colombia all these led to the development and growth of industries in Europe.

6. Mercantilism led to availability of raw materials which were needed to develop European countries because these raw materials which were produced in the new world like cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, sisal etc. was transported to Europe to be manufactured as commodities and later these commodities were sold in other parts of the world especially in Africa for European development.

7. Mercantilism led to availability of markets both internal and external market for absorbing European industrial goods. During mercantilism European goods were sold in Europe and Africa where markets were available for economic interests of European merchants. Example: European goods which were not purchased in Europe got markets in Africa and Latin America for development of capitalism in Europe.

8. Mercantilism led to Agrarian revolution during the 16 th C where by European merchants started to invest in agricultural sector by using wealth obtained during this oversea trade, especially unequal exchange. The European traders got a lot of wealth by using unequal exchange and started to invest in agricultural sector for more production of raw materials like wheat for making breads and wool for making woolen clothes.

9. Mercantilism led to the emergence of strong military states in order to defend and protect the wealth of nations, merchants and their boundaries e.g. UK during the Tudor monarchy especially the rule of King Henry VIII led Britain to undergo navy forces in order to increase the wealth of Britain after piracy and killing other European merchants who passed near Britain boundary.

10. Mercantilism led to the rise of European nationalism; where by small European nations united together to increase and expand the market for their nations, removed trade barriers among the nations joint, protected merchants and used the resources available among the small nations unified. E.g. UK (Wales, England, Scotland) to form United Kingdom.

  1. Merchantalism

This was an economic system which involved in conducting trade overseas searching for gold and silver. Merchantalism led to the rise of Trans-Atlantic slave trade which was a trading activity which involved Africa, America and Europe. During this trade millions of Africans were shipped to America to provide cheap labour in mines and plantations.

  1. Booming capitalist agriculture.

During merchantalism European capitalist established different plantations of coffee, tea, sugar cane, cotton and tobacco which called for massive supply of cheap labours, thus the supply of white labour was getting difficult compared to the expanding needs of the plantations, therefore this called for importation of slaves from Africa.

  1. Industrial revolution in Europe.

Due to the industrial revolution, there was need to expand home markets thus the merchants and the ruling class in Europe were afraid of under population, this prompted the campaign against the use of white labourers. The crisis called for massive importation of slaves from Africa to provide cheap labour in mines and plantations.

  1. Africans slaves were cheap.

It’s on record that money paid on white labour for ten years could procure on African slaves for life. In addition a white worker was expected to acquire land at the end of the contract while on African slaves was prevented by law from owning land. These conditions necessitated the use of African origin in the new world.

  1. Discovery of maritime technology.

This acted as a pushing factor for Africans to be taken as slaves. Maritime technology eased transportation and guided the merchants to locate Africa. Thus be in position to transport people of African origin to the new world.

  1. Inability of the indigenous people.

Initially the Europeans were using Native Americans, Red Indians to provide cheap labour power on the plantations and mining centers but later the red Indians died in huge numbers due to plague. This called for importation of African slaves which contributed to the existence of people of African origin in the new world.

  1. Discovery of the new world.

The Discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus in 1492 contributed to the existence of people of African origin in the new world. The discovery led to the establishment of plantations and mining centers that demanded for cheap labours which called for importation of African slaves.


The Trans Atlantic slave trade refers to that type of trade that involve three continents America, Africa and Europe.

In this trading system, Africa was the source of cheap labour in the form of slaves, America was the source of raw materials and Europe was the source of manufactured goods.

The main participants were Britain, France, Holland and Portugal. The British were the ones who benefited so much from this trade since the 17 th C, took the lead in the abolition of slave trade in the first half of the 19 th C. the British took various steps to abolish slave trade consequently in 1807, Britain passed a bill making slave trade illegal in all her colonies and in 1833; a law was passed that called for the emancipation of all slaves in the British empire.

There are various forces that compelled the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These factors included the following;

A Economic reasons

These were the main factors that forced the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade, they included;

1) Capitalist production

Capitalist production involves two classes of societies, which are the capitalists who control the major means of production and the workers who are employed by the capitalists. For the workers to be effectively employed, they must be free and not slaves.

2) Need for markets

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased production of industrial products in Europe that lacked enough demand; this forced the British to abolish slave trade so that markets can be created in Africa for their manufactured goods.

3) Need for raw materials

Due to the industrial revolution, there was increased demand for raw materials in Britain. The existing raw materials were limited to supply due to the mushrooming of industries. This situation necessitated the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade so that Africans can produce the needed raw materials.

4) The use of machines

The industrial revolution was characterized by the use of machines in the production process, these machines replaced human labour. The owners of the machines campaigned for the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade because slave labour had become redundant.

5) French and British competition over sugar production.

For so long period, the British had a monopoly on sugar in the European market. The sugar was produced by slave labour in the British West Indies. The British was selling their sugar at very high prices thus making huge profits. However by the end of the 18 th C, the French West Indies and re union islands were producing sugar in large quantities and selling at a cheaper price thus making more profits than the British. This situation made slave labour in British West Indies useless thus forcing the British to abolish the Trans Atlantic slave trade.


B Religious reasons

The religious bodies contributed to the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade in Africa. They argued that slave trade was against the will of God because he had created all people equal but slave trade was treating Africans as an inferior class. The Christians denounced slave trade in the name of God and argued that it must be abolished.

C French revolution of 1789

The French revolution of 1789 had a role to play in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The slogan of the revolution was fraternity, liberty and equality. Philosophers such as Rousseau campaigned for the abolition of slave trade. These philosophers claimed that slave trade was against the ideals of the French revolution thus it had to be stopped.

D Humanitarian movements

The humanitarians such as Granville sharp and Thomas Clarkson played a certain role in the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade. These people argued that slave trade had caused a lot of suffering to the people thus it had to be abolished. These efforts were followed by British declarations of 1807 and 1833 which abolished slave trade and slavery.

Effects of the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade

a Foundation of sierra Leone and Liberia.

These areas were established by the Europeans powers as settlements for the freed slaves. They received freed slaves from America. It should be noted that the Trans Atlantic slave trade uprooted millions of Africans who were supposed to offer labour in America.

b Introduction of legitimate trade.

There was introduction of legitimate trade that involved the buying and selling of natural resources, Example palm oil and cocoa. The colonial powers introduced legitimate trade so that it can facilitate the acquisition of raw materials and markets which were crucial in Europe after the industrial revolution.

c Exploitation of hinterland.

Before the abolition of the Trans Atlantic slave trade, the colonial powers operated along the coast of West Africa searching for slaves, but after the abolition of slave trade they penetrated the interior searching for raw materials and market where they can sell their manufactured goods.

d Increased spread of Christianity.

The European powers increased the spread of Christianity after the abolition of slave trade. Christianity was a way of compensating for the ills committed by slave trade. This religion was also spread to counter the spread of Islam in West Africa.

e Increased provision of social services.

The colonial powers increased the provision of social services especially education. The main aim of colonial education was to train Africans to become better producers of raw materials that were needed in Europe. Colonial education was also supposed to change the mentality of Africans to prefer European goods thus created a ready market for them.

f Improvement of the agricultural sector.

The colonial powers improved the agricultural sector by introducing better methods of farming to increase the production of raw materials. It should be noted that the colonialists discouraged the production of food crops in Africa.

g Linguistic studies.

The colonial powers studied native languages so that they can be able to translate the Bible into local languages. This move was to convert many Africans to Christianity. The languages that were studied by the imperialist were Hausa and Fulani.


CAPITALISM Refers to the class mode of production consisting of the capitalists who own the major means of production and the workers or proletarians that are deprived of the means of production in order to get profit. Feudalism did not collapse at once; the decline was a gradual process which was caused by various factors.

Factors that contributed rise of factory system (industrial capitalism)
  1. Growth of population.

There was a rapid increase in population especially in Britain at the end of the 15 th C; this increase was caused by better medical facilities and early marriages. In 1485 AD, Britain had three million people. This increase in production contributed to the rise of capitalism by providing a ready market for manufactured goods and cheap labor in industries.

Also increased population facilitated cheap labor in industries, leaving rural areas hence decline of feudalism and rise of capitalism.

  1. Growth of towns.

The Growth of towns for example Manchester and Liverpool contributed to the rise of industrial capitalism. These towns attracted many people who undertook trade and commerce which contributed to the demise of feudalism.

  1. Agrarian revolution.

The improvement of agriculture contributed significantly to the collapse of feudalism. The changes in agriculture for example crop rotation and the use of machines led to increase in production. The Increase in production led to acquisition of wealth which was used to finance the industrial revolution hence rise of capitalism.

  1. Political revolutions.

Political revolutions e.g. the English revolution of 1640 and the French revolution of 1789 contributed to the rise of capitalism. These revolutions destroyed feudalism and put the major means of production in the hands of capitalists hence leading to the rise of capitalism.

  1. Commercial revolution.

Refers to fundamental changes which were characterized by the development of international trade and the rise of merchant class. Through international trade, European countries especially Britain acquired a lot of capital which was used to finance the industrial revolution, thus the rise of capitalism.

  1. Monetization of the economy.

The Introduction of money as a medium of exchange played a great role in the rise of capitalism in Europe. Money formed the basis of capitalism by financing the industrial revolution, thus the rise of capitalism.

  1. The Hundred year war.

The war was fought between the British and the French, during the course of the war British plundered French towns and enriched themselves. This was a form of primitive accumulation of capital which contributed significantly to the rise of capitalism.

  1. Scientific and technological revolutions.

The Scientific revolution refers to major technological changes that took place in Europe and paved the way for the rise of capitalism. The Revolution led to the expansion of commodity production which led to the development of internal trade that contributed to the industrial development thus the rise of capitalism.


This can be defined as the sum total of radical or fundamental changes in various sectors of the economy especially industry, transport, banking and technology. During this period new machines for mass production were invented; large scale industries replaced cottage industries.

Why Britain was the first country to industrialize in Europe?

The industrial revolution begun in Britain on a large scale for the first time, later spread to other countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Belgium. During this period Britain was referred to as the “workshop of the world”.

The causes of the industrial revolution are classified into internal and external factors;

Internal Factors

a Growth of the internal market.

This was caused by the rapid growth in population during the 18 th century. There was about 10.5M people in 1801 and 20 M people in 1851. This growth of population was due to better health care and sanitation. The increase in population provided ready markets for industrial products thus contributing to the industrial revolution.

b Improvement of the transport systems.

There was improvement in the transport system through the construction of roads, railways and canals. The good transport system supported the industrial revolution by providing cheap and reliable transport.

c Non governmental interference.

The British government pursued the laissez faire policy (no government intervention) whereby the government allowed the economy to operate fairly and freely with few controls. The absence of government interference encouraged investors to increase production thus contributing to the industrial revolution.

d Peace and stability.

The monarchy which controlled Britain provided a stable and predictable government. This monarchy has maintained peace and stability which are conducive for industrial activities.

e Free trade system.

Britain had the largest free trade unity in Europe completely unhampered by the local tariffs system. Almost each part of Britain produced something and traded with others. The absence of internal tariffs encouraged industrial activities thus leading to industrial revolution.

f Geographical advantage.

Britain had an added advantage in natural resources which stimulated industrial revolution. There was existence of coal and iron in plenty, coal mining was important in coastal shipping and provision of cheap fuel and later rail road construction. The existence of these two natural resources generated more technological innovations that enabled Britain to undergo the industrial revolution.

g Technological advantages

Britain was the first country to undergo technological advancement in various aspects. There were various discoveries that took place in Britain which facilitated the industrial revolution. In 1776, James Watt discovered the steam engine and in 1775 Miller Cromb discovered the water frame. These discoveries contributed to the scientific revolution and finally the industrial revolution.

External Factors

a International links

The paramount cause of the industrial revolution was the Trans Atlantic slave trade. British companies traded with all countries in Europe but most important was trade with Asia and North America. The most profitable business acquired huge profits which were used to build many industries.

b Existence of many colonies.

Britain had so many colonies in Africa, America and Asia. These colonies provided raw materials and ready markets for industrial products, therefore contributing to the industrial revolution.

The industrial revolution led to drastic economic and social changes in the lives of the British people. It replaced agriculture as the main source of wealth and was responsible for the scramble for the control of the rest of the world.

Effects of industrial revolution in Europe

a Development of industrial towns.

The industrial revolution contributed to the development of industrial towns such as Lancashire, Birmingham and derby shire in Britain. Development of these towns was due to the industries which were established near the markets and source of raw materials that attracted a number of people to settle in those areas thus leading to the development of towns.

b Environmental degradation

The industrial revolution contributed to environmental pollution in Europe. It led to chemical contamination in water bodies and air pollution. The destruction of the environment also contributed to the eruption of diseases which led to loss of lives.

c Development of free trade policy.

The industrial revolution contributed to the development of free trade in Europe. Free trade is an economic policy that allows free transfer of goods without economic barriers or tariffs. This policy was influenced by the production of large quantities of industrial goods that required overseas markets.

d Rise of proletariat/ working classes

The industrial revolution contributed to the development of working class in Europe. Members of the working class did not posses anything except their labor. They sold their labor to the owners of the industries who in turn paid those low wages and were forced to work under poor conditions. Their exploitation led to the formation of various movements such as Luddism and Chartism.

e Introduction of democracy

It contributed to the collapse of absolute monarchies that had existed in Europe during the feudal period. In France there was the bourbon monarchy where all French kings right from Louis XIV were despotic. The monarchy in Britain was also despotic, the kings believed in the “divine right of the king” whereby the king was not answering to any man except God. The industrial revolution replaced absolute monarchies with parliamentary system.

f Economic hardship

It was characterized with so many economic hardships. The workers were paid very low wages which were not enough to satisfy ordinary human beings. To supplement their meager pay; many fathers were forced to send their children into factories at the age of five. The workers were forced to work for 14 hours a day.

g Development of slums

The industrial revolution contributed to the development of slums in Europe with the growth of population in the 18 th C. The older towns became more and more over crowded. More and more big families crowded into each house. Slums were very common in towns such as absence of proper sanitation and increased crime.

Why Britain was referred to as the workshop of the world?

Between 1750s and 1870s Britain was referred to as the workshop of the world by other European countries because all the commodities of the world were being produced in Britain, during the period of Victoria, the entire world depended on high quality products from Britain.

There are various reasons to why Britain was called the workshop of the world, these included the following;

First to undergo the industrial revolution.

Britain was the first country to undergo the industrial revolution in 1750 AD and then it spread to other countries such as German and France. The British people regarded themselves as the source of world civilization and their country was a model to other countries.

Source of technology and innovation.

Britain was the source of technology in the world. Most of the inventions in technology took place in Britain e.g. the steam engine that was discovered in 1776 by James Watt and the maritime technology that started in Britain. It was Britain that set the pace for the industrialization of other countries.

Largest colonial empire.

Britain had the largest colonial empire in the world. It controlled at least a quarter of the world’s population. It had colonies in Asia, America and Africa. These colonies provided a ready market for British manufactured goods and raw materials that contributed to the industrial revolution.

Huge economy

Britain had the largest economy between 1750 AD and 1870 AD; its economy was worth 540 million pounds the largest in Europe and it was followed by France which had 250 million pounds. The possession of the largest economy explains why it was called the workshop of the world.

Leading exporter of industrial goods.

Britain was the leading exporter of the industrial products by that time and she monopolized the export of high quality industrial goods, this enabled her to control the world market and obtain higher profits this situation made Britain to be referred to as the workshop of the world.

Stable government

The monarchy in Britain provided a stable and predictable government in the country. Peace and security provided a conducive atmosphere for massive investment thus enabling Britain to have the largest economy in the whole world.

Geographical advantage.

Britain had an added advantage in natural resources




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