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The Industrial Revolution on the Continent: Best Study Notes

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The Industrial Revolution on the Continent The Great Exhibition of 1851 In 1851, Great Britain held a massive exhibition to highlight Europe’s a technological and industrial achievement. Prince... Albert, consort to the reigning Queen Victoria, persuaded a group of prominent businessmen and government leaders to finance a huge showcase, designed by Joseph Paxton, that was itself a sort of advertisement for Great Britain’s own technological virtuosity. Known as the Crystal Palace, it consisted of 2,300 cast iron girders, 3,300 pillars, and more than 900,000 feet of glass that covered over 19 acres of Kensington. Critics complained that it looked like a giant greenhouse, but the public was enchanted by it, and the Great Exhibition was a major financial success, with nearly 17,000 exhibitors and over 100,000 exhibitions. Continental Hindrances to Industrialization In the aftermath of the Crystal Palace Exhibition, German representatives gloomily concluded that Great Britain would never loose its supremacy; and indeed, at that point, European nations held no illusion about challenging the British position in the near term. The Process of Industrialization Whatever their geographic and political issues, continental European nations were not isolated from Great Britain; they knew what was happening there, and they were aware that industrialization could benefit them as it did the British. The first important step continental Europeans took toward industrialization usually involved the acquisition of British technology. Belgium The first continental industrial spurt occurred in Belgium. As was the case in Great Britain, a growing population contributed to development—between 1801 and 1850, the number of Belgians rose from 3 million to 4.3 million, and about half of them lived in urban areas. One major advantage Belgium enjoyed was that it was situated on top of a large coal deposit, and thus shifted at an early date to the use of mineral fuel. By 1850 Belgium produced 3 million metric tons of coal per year, and its output continued to expand. France The French process of industrialization was quite different from that of the Belgians. It was slower and less dramatic, and coexisted with local, regional markets and handicraft workers. Skilled artisans survived much longer in France than other parts of Europe, and even in factories machinists formed a separate class of artisans noted for their intelligence, skill, dexterity, and good judgment. The German States The German states began industrializing later than either Belgium or France, in large part because they lacked a strong national market until the creation of the Zollverein (a coalition of German states formed to manage customs and economic policies within their territories) in 1834. Accelerating Development, 1850-1870 Beginning in 1580 and continuing for the next two decades, the landscape of the Industrial Revolution began to shift as the continental states experienced accelerated development and output in almost all measurable categories (coal consumption and output, cotton textile production, railroad mileage, the production of pig iron, the increase in steam capacity). The Late Nineteenth Century After 1870, Great Britain faced growing challenges to its position as the industrial leader of the world. In some cases, the problem was self-made. Britain’s long-dominant industrial plant operated by proven machines and techniques and financed by large investments over time was firmly in place. Mass Society The increase in industrial production with its emphasis on new patterns of consumption, urban growth, and social class shifts helped hurry the destruction of the old social order and hurried the emergence of a mass society after 1870. [Show More]

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