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What explains European technological leadership by the nineteenth century - Essay Example

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The Age of Exploration was in turn rooted in the new ideas, technologies and spirit of enquiry that grew out of the early periods of the Renaissance.Prior to the Age of Exploration, the most vibrant and active economies of Europe had been in Mediterranean regions like Italy and Greece…
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What explains European technological leadership by the nineteenth century
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What explains European technological leadership by the nineteenth century

Download file to see previous pages... The Age of Exploration was in turn rooted in the new ideas, technologies and spirit of enquiry that grew out of the early periods of the Renaissance.Prior to the Age of Exploration, the most vibrant and active economies of Europe had been in Mediterranean regions like Italy and Greece.It all began with the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. European ships boldly ventured into the seas and oceans of the world in search of new trading routes and partners to fuel a newly emerging capitalism in many of the European countries. But as a direct outcome of the daring sea expeditions carried out in the Age of Exploration, a new European economy became dominant. Known as the Atlantic economy, it was run and controlled by countries of Western Europe, such as Britain, France, Germany and Holland. These countries became the wealthiest and most powerful economies in Europe, and continue to be so to the present day.Even as trans-oceanic trade became commonplace, Europe was undergoing a commercial revolution. As trade and commerce assumed higher levels of importance, traders and merchants superceded feudal landowners to become the most powerful class in society. In relatively short time, for the first time in the history, the bourgeoisie began to take charge of the politics and government in the European nations.


The European voyages of discovery led to a vast influx of precious metals from the New World and a wide variety of valuable commodities from Asian countries, thus raising prices, stimulating industry, and fostering a money economy.

Expansion of trade and the money economy lead to the development of banks and other institutions of finance and credit. In the 17th century, the Dutch were in the forefront financially, but towards the end of the century, with the establishment of the Bank of England, Britain was set on the road of becoming the foremost economy in Europe. Capitalism kept on spreading, and a new class of commercial entrepreneur evolved from the old-type merchant adventurers. There was a fair amount of technolgy already present, many machines were known, and there were factories employing these machines and technology. However, these early and primitive factories were the exceptions rather than the rule, if only for the simple reason that they were still fuelled by wood.

But soon the much more powerful coal would come to replace wood as the fuel of choice. At the beginning of the 18th century, the general population was rapidly expanding and were wealthier than ever before. People began demanding more and more goods of better and better quality (Columbia Enclyclopedia, 2004).

In the second half of the eighteenth century, a great economic transformation began sweeping the countries of Europe. The Industrial Revolution has begun. Over a span of 100 years, by 1850's, industry would rapidly become a major force in shaping economy, deeply affecting national life in a the major European countries, but most prominently in the country where it all started: England. The Industrial Revolution would go on to change the face of nations all over the world. This Revolution provided the economic base for the rise of a vast number of new professions, and after the Second World War eventually led to the appearance of unprecendented levels of prosperity in the Western world. Many developing nations of Asia and elsewhere are even now trying to catch up with the pace of progress implied by the word "Industrial Revolution."

Since Karl Marx's Das Kapital (1869) and Arnold Toynbee's Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England (1884), there have been scores of books exploring industrial revolution - this scientific, economic and social phenomenon of most singular importance in the history of the world - from different perspectives. A few of the currently popular books on this subject are

Understanding the Industrial Revolution by Charles More, which describes theories of economic growth and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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