I respectfully disagree with the above answer. There was, indeed, an agricultural revolution in Europe; but it was not the result of the Colombian Exchange, whose benefits had been absorbed over 100 years earlier. The true reason was improved agricultural techniques, particularly the development of crop rotation systems, which allowed...
I respectfully disagree with the above answer. There was, indeed, an agricultural revolution in Europe; but it was not the result of the Colombian Exchange, whose benefits had been absorbed over 100 years earlier. The true reason was improved agricultural techniques, particularly the development of crop rotation systems, which allowed all fields to be planted each season. Previously, one third of all arable land had to be left fallow to prevent soil depletion. With crop rotation, particularly with so-called "green manure" crops such as clover and turnips, it was no longer necessary to leave land fallow. These green manure crops proved to be excellent animal feed. The end result was more and larger cattle which not only provided more meat but also produced much larger amounts of dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese.
The Dutch, who learned to rotate turnips with flax for linen and clover for tulip bulbs developed the largest and fattest cattle in Europe; and also produced the most milk. Their Gouda and Edam cheeses became famous. The English soon copied the Dutch system. Among the more famous Englishmen was Viscount Charles Townsend who, when he retired from politics, spoke so often of growing turnips that he became known as "Turnip Townsend."
Interestingly, European people did not consume turnips; they were considered fit only for livestock. However, the cultivation of turnips and consequently the production of larger, fatter livestock substantially improved the European diet which was a substantial factor in extending life expectancies, and thus contributed to the population explosion.
Aside from improved agricultural techniques, a substantial factor was the improved practice of medicine, primarily innoculation for disease. Prominent here was Edward Jenner, who innoculatedfirst himself and then a young boy withthe cowpox virus which implicitly immunized one against smallpox. By reason of Jenner's work, (and other physicians) small pox and many other infectious diseases were either substantially reduced or virtually eliminated, and the population consequently exploded due to drastically reduced death rates.
Contrary to the answer above, women did not marry earlier; in fact the opposite was true. The average age for marriage for men and women was twenty seven; when they were able to support themselves. Additionally, sanitation techniques did not improve for at least another one hundred years. City residents still emptied chamber pots from windows, normally with the cry of "guardez loo!" It was the presence of raw sewage in the streets that led to the development of high heel shoes for women. Sanitation then had a deleterious effect on population growth, particularly in large cities. It was rather improved agricultural techniques and improved medical knowledge that led to a population explosion in eighteenth century Europe.