The Cause of the Industrial Revolution

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The Cause of the Industrial Revolution

In discussing the main developments of the Industrial Revolution, we

must first look at the Agricultural Revolution and the effects of

enclosure as writes Peter Mathias a secondary source, "to be given

identity, the concept (the Industrial Revolution) implies the onset of

a fundamental change in the structure of an economy; a fundamental

redeployment of resources away from agriculture" (Peter Mathias

(1969,p2) The First Industrial Nation). The agricultural revolution

was the precursor to the industrial revolution and began around 1650,

with parliamentary enclosure acts dominating the period 1750 - 1830.

Enclosure changed agriculture from an open field system, whereby the

villagers would each farm on a strip of land to provide for their own

requirements to a system of private land management of enclosed fields

and individual landowners took over control of the land. The community

no longer had communal rights to the land and had to look to the large

landowner for their living. Enclosing the land brought benefits to

agricultural productivity from new crop rotation and heavy manuring,

but for the peasant farmers they were displaced of their land and

forced to find work elsewhere. Farming became less labour intensive

and the large farms contributed to a rural labour surplus.

The Agricultural Revolution created wealthy landowners, which in turn

added to a financial situation favourable for the industrial

revolution. As M.W. Flinn a writes in Origins of the Industrial

Revolution, a secondary source "there is much truth in the assertion

that the increase in rents, itself mainly the product of enclosur...

... middle of paper ...

...g ought to be done in regard to it."


Class notes 19/09/04 The theory of 'take-off' W.Rostow 'The Stages of

Economic Growth'

Class notes 29/09/04 Banking and Finance

Class notes 29/09/04 Industrial Revolution Background Events

Class notes 29/09/04 Map 5 The British Empire 1783

Class notes 30/09/04 Conditions in England 1832 - 1853

Dale, Henry & Dale, Rodney (1992). The Industrial Revolution, London,

The British Library

Flinn, M.W. (1966). Origins of the Industrial Revolution, London,

Longmans Green & Co Ltd

Mathias, Peter (1969). The First Industrial Nation, London, Methuen &

Co Ltd accessed 4/10/04 accessed 4/10/04 accessed


In this essay, the author

  • Explains that they no longer had communal rights to land and had to look to the large landowners.
  • Explains that agriculture by 1800 was 35% and by 1871 it was as low as 45%.
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