Early Western Civilization in the 18th century

Early Western Civilization in the 18th century

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Early western civilization just following the feudal period was a very interesting time in Europe. There were many new innovations and problems in the way of life of the people of that time.
Agriculture was still the main occupation of the time for most people. Two big problems that the people faced were those of war and poor harvest. It was said that perhaps the largest problem was the problem with poor grain. For the majority of people there was also the problem of land. For these people they either had no land of their own or insufficient amounts of it to support a family even when times were good. Poor harvests also had an effect on government as well. Bad harvests tended to cause the taxes to fall and couldn’t provide sufficient provisions for the army. One thing that did seem certain, however, was that monarchs didn’t help much with their pursuits of glory by means of war and food consumption.
Serfs were the main labor forces in the feudal period. However in the “legal” sense there were really no serfs in Germany. That could be why the freeing of the serfs made minimal progress in Germany. The state needed the flourishing peasants for recruits for the army and for their houses and barns for lodging for the soldiers. For the peasants there were really no luxuries in their lives. They had little furniture and clothing and basically survived on what they or their neighbors could grow. Also what little money they had could only have been spent on items that they could not be dispensed with. Most of their dwellings were also not as clean as those of other areas since the women worked more in the fields. The schools for the common people were very poor. Most of the teachers were not competent enough to teach, the school houses were in disrepair, often the teachers would have to live in the school houses, there were often no separate classes, and the curriculum was extremely narrow.
Transportation was also a big issue of that time. Things moved very slowly at this time, especially goods. Canals and achievements in roads only provided moderate improvements. The real “Revolution” in transportation did not come until the invention of the railroad. The busiest and most used roads of the time were the footpaths, mule path and local roads of which the best credited to the Romans.

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Their networks were well adapted to life and needs at the time since there was seldom travel outside a four or five mile radius which the family, the market or the court was located in the “Main” roads that were used where the “Kings Highways.” These roads were not used for peasants but for merchants carrying costly goods. Also carried on these roads traveled “Well-to-do” travelers and letters and packages of Royal Mail. Besides the cargo and persona the only difference in these roads were that they were wider dirt paths. Rivers and waterways were important and vulnerable sources of transportation. Those that could accommodate boats were used to their maximum potential. Transportation at that time was small scaled, irregular, expensive, and unsafe. Overall, transportation was very poor.
Villages in the 18th century England was mainly self- contained and inbred. The villages pretty much had to provide themselves. The women did most of the sewing and cloth making. Men of the village had to make their own equipment also. As for children they were strong enough to pick up a broom. To put it simply, work was very hard for these were almost non- existent. The housing was also very primitive. The houses were small, usually having only one to two rooms for the entire family. Even though they seemed very tough, English villages compared very well to those villages on the continent.
It was said in the book that the countrymen produce while the townsman consumes. Originally the nobles were in control of the towns. They however later withdrew and the Crown quickly filled their void. The towns tended to become areas of resistance to the noble power and also had a large amount of independence under the monarchy. Most of the town consisted of the bourgeois, who seemed to be the most comfortably situated in the land. There were basically three brand divisions of townsfolk. There was the aristocracy, the merchants, and the artisans. These groups were said to be self- governing within the city or state. Towns and villages were very different places in those times.
Life for the ordinary citizen lift little time for leisure. However when it was leisure time there was a variety of simple sports and amusements. One thing everyone looked forward to were the local fairs. They celebrated special occasions such as the end of harvest. Probably the most important sport of the time was archery. It was praised as food for all men, rich or poor. There were also many other sports. Some of these include bowling, various ball games like handball and football, fishing, tennis and originating in Scotland was golf. Popular bar games of today were plated back then like cards, dice, and billiards. The crown outlawed those games of chance however, but they were still played. Much of today’s sports can be seen in the sports of that era.
Many things were set forth in the end of the early western civilization. Some of them lasted, like the sports, and many faded away. As conditions of life improved many of the hardships of the time began to fade away. It however is important to notice that much of what happened then affected the modern world today.

Everyman in Eurpoe(third edition);Allan Mitchell & Istvan Deak w/ Kevin Miller; Prentice Hall 1990
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