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Why did the Industrial Revolution start in Great Britain? 

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zapatamonica | Honors

Posted May 29, 2013 at 1:58 PM via web

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Why did the Industrial Revolution start in Great Britain? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM (Answer #1)

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There are a number of reasons commonly given for why the Industrial Revolution started in England rather than in some other European country.  Let us look at a few of the most important of these reasons.

The Enclosure System.  Over the decades leading up to the Industrial Revolution, English aristocrats had been gaining more control over the land.  This was typically land that had been held in common.  Now, the aristocrats were gaining control of it, fencing or hedging it off, and pushing the peasants off the land.  This meant that there was now a large supply of impoverished people available to work in the factories.

Agricultural Revolution.  At roughly the same time, new farming practices and technology arose.  This meant that farmers could produce more crops on a given amount of land and with a given amount of labor.  This decreased the demand for farm workers, forcing people who had once farmed to move to cities and look for work.  It also meant that more food was available to feed non-farm wokers.

Empire and wealth.  England was a rich country with a large and growing empire.  This meant that there were people with money to invest in industry.  It also meant, given the mercantilism of the time, that England had a captive market in which to sell its goods.

These are generally seen as the main reasons why the Industrial Revolution arose in Great Britain.

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