Just like many events in world history, there is no single cause to the Industrial Revolution. Rather, there are a number of different factors which led to a general acceleration in the rate of social, economic, technological, and environmental changes beginning in the 18th century in Western Europe. Of these changes, the changes that occurred in the field of agriculture were some of the most important.
1. So What’s the Industrial Revolution, Anyway?
Let’s start off easy, shall we? Watch the above Crash Course video on the Industrial Revolution, and then answer the associated questions in your packet.
2. The Agricultural Revolution and Enclosure.
No, this isn’t the one that happened in 8000 BCE and resulted in the domestication of plants and animals and a migration towards sedentary agriculture. This Agricultural Revolution has more to do with changes in farming practices and the introduction of New World food crops.
Please read the article “The Four Field System“. Then, watch the illustrated video on system of enclosure by Geof Glass:
After having reviewed the material from both of these sources, please answer the questions about the Agricultural Revolution and the Enclosure Act in your packet.
3. Cottage Industry. (Or Domestic System, or Putting-Out System. There are a lot of names for the same thing, sometimes.)
While the above image is rather simplistic, it does illustrate the general concept of the cottage industry for textile production which existed in much of Western Europe– and by extension, Great Britain– from the medieval period until the beginning of the First Industrial Revolution in the 1700s.
Please read the article, “The Domestic System,” and then watch the following clip of a weaver working on a period-appropriate linen loom at Mount Vernon. ( While the loom in question is American, the same technology existed in Western Europe prior to the First Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, videos of working British linen looms are a little thin on the ground.) After reading the article and watching the video, please answer the questions on this subject in your packet.
Now! Onward to Task Two: Why Britain?