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The continuities were mostly in the lives of ordinary people. Most Europeans lived their lives in small rural communities that had very limited contact with outsiders. They produced crops not for wideranging markets, but for local consumption, by and large. Most people's lives remained centered in families, which were the conduits through which property flowed and values were perpetuated. While these institutions were shaken by demographic and other changes, they remained essentially the same in the early eighteenth century as they had been in the late fifteenth century.
The changes that took place in this period were many, and they were cataclysmic. Perhaps the most significant was the discovery and colonization of the New World, as well as the establishment of commercial and economic inroads in Asia and Africa. Another massive change was the adoption of new agricultural techniques which were just beginning to really have an effect on village life as descibed in the first paragraph at the dawn of the eighteenth century. The development of a market economy, also taking hold in the early eighteenth century was another massive change, as was the rise of powerful, centralized nation-states with significant bureaucracies. Finally, there was the small matter of the Protestant Reformation, which divided Europe not just among Protestants and Catholics, but into many other sects. This led to profound social strife that was just coming to an end by the late seventeenth century.
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