Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 7th, 2012, 03:21 PM   #1
Academician
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 67
lower class in the 18th century


Did the conditions of the lower class (peasantry) improve, remain the same, or become worse during the 18th age of enlightenment?

I know the autocracy generally grew in wealth, and from what I am reading, it seems that begging had a large increase along with mass poverty

Thoughts?
Id like some input, thank you
Waxhax is offline  
Remove Ads
Old November 7th, 2012, 04:11 PM   #2

Ancientgeezer's Avatar
Revisionist
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
Posts: 5,229

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waxhax View Post
Did the conditions of the lower class (peasantry) improve, remain the same, or become worse during the 18th age of enlightenment?

I know the autocracy generally grew in wealth, and from what I am reading, it seems that begging had a large increase along with mass poverty

Thoughts?
Id like some input, thank you
If one takes Britain as an example, there were mixed fortunes. The British agricultural revolution that preceeded the Industrial revolution drove almost all of the landless peasant class and most of the smallholder tenant farmers from the land and into the growing industrial towns--that, or they emigrated to the colonies. If being a farm labourer who was only employed for eight to nine months of the year or a smallholder who was essentially self sufficient was better or worse than living in unsanitary, smoke-wreathed town to work sixteen hours a day in dangerous conditions is probably a matter of choice. That so many people chose to place themselves into bonded servitude in the colonies (a one-way trip) suggests that prospects at home were quite dire.
Obviously the income of the lower classes grew during the century, especially as the industrial revolution took off and affordable products became available creating the beginning of a consumer society, but life had its ups and downs and life remained really tough.The poor continued to be largely unenfranchised and discriminated against, living a grimy, unhealthy, arduous, short life.
I have never thought about if before, but I wonder if the revolutions and unrest in mainland Europe were related to imporvements in agriculture that were not matched by an industrial revolution.

Compare the lifestyle. Dark Satanic Mills Vs. Green and Pleasant Land.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Last edited by Ancientgeezer; November 7th, 2012 at 04:18 PM.
Ancientgeezer is offline  
Old November 7th, 2012, 04:19 PM   #3

Nemowork's Avatar
Teflon Soul
 
Joined: Jan 2011
From: South of the barcodes
Posts: 5,374

Considering the degree and starvation in the coutryside unless you owned land i doubt there was much difference except the countyside had better views. And fewer pigs obviously.
Nemowork is offline  
Old November 7th, 2012, 05:38 PM   #4

Guaporense's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 4,149
Blog Entries: 9

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waxhax View Post
Did the conditions of the lower class (peasantry) improve, remain the same, or become worse during the 18th age of enlightenment?

I know the autocracy generally grew in wealth, and from what I am reading, it seems that begging had a large increase along with mass poverty

Thoughts?
Id like some input, thank you
For most of Europe it remained the same, as per capita incomes (which are the chief determinant of living standards) remained stagnated or grew very slowly.

Only in the UK per capita incomes increased at fast speeds, so there the conditions of the lower class may have generally improved. But in the rest of the continent they did not improve.
Guaporense is offline  
Old November 7th, 2012, 10:00 PM   #5

Louise C's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2011
From: Southeast England
Posts: 7,241

The Agricultural Revolution made a huge difference to many poor people in the Uk. Smallholders who had made a modest living by growing their own food and grazing their animals on the common land were driven out by enclosures. They were forced to either take jobs as fqrm labourers on the new big farms that were the result of enclosures, or move to the towns and work in factories (often in horrendous conditions) or down mines or something.

As Harry Pearson puts it in Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows 'A population that had once worked for itself now, in the main, worked for others.'. We became a nation of wage slaves.
Louise C is offline  
Old November 8th, 2012, 01:25 AM   #6

funakison's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2012
From: Between a rock and a hard place
Posts: 3,394
Blog Entries: 1

Ah the good old days of overcrowdred slums, unemloyment and urban misery. Can i just add a sprinkling of TB, smallpox, diptheria and dysentry to the excellent comments that have so far been made to the OP.
funakison is offline  
Old November 8th, 2012, 02:33 AM   #7

Gudenrath's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2012
From: Denmark
Posts: 2,547
Blog Entries: 1

Around the 1780s some European countries began to adopt agricultural reforms regarding the abolishment or limitation of the life tenancy of small holders to the landed gentry as well as regarding the peasantry being bound to the soil.

This occurred for example to various degrees in Prussia, the Habsburg lands and Denmark-Norway. This allowed peasants that had previously been serfs or in serf-like conditions to own their own farms, but it also, at least in Denmark-Norway created a large underclass of farmhands, either of old serfs that couldn't afford to buy their farms, or dismissed farmhands because the new self-owning farmers didn't need the extra work with the abolishment of villeinage. This eventually during the first half of the 19th century created the same kind of population migration from country to town that England experienced half a century earlier.

But I do think that while the average economical living conditions may not have improved on account of this surge in economical differences between lower class and lower middle class, the general living standards did improve as a whole class of people suddenly became independent and to a large degree their own men. This is an improvement that cannot be measured in economics.

All this was also abolished with a stroke in Revolutionary France, but of course with the oncoming civil war and political turmoil, it would not have been a necessarily positive result for many in France until well into the 19th century.
Gudenrath is offline  
Old November 9th, 2012, 02:39 AM   #8
Scholar
 
Joined: Jul 2011
From: Sweden
Posts: 688
Blog Entries: 8

I know that during the 1770s or so 70% of the children died before they reached the age of 5 in London and 90% of thr children died before reaching 5 in Londons orphanages.

How do i know this? QI!!! best bbc show ever hehe
Magnate is offline  
Old November 9th, 2012, 03:05 AM   #9
Archivist
 
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 133

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ancientgeezer View Post
If one takes Britain as an example, there were mixed fortunes. The British agricultural revolution that preceeded the Industrial revolution drove almost all of the landless peasant class and most of the smallholder tenant farmers from the land and into the growing industrial towns--that, or they emigrated to the colonies. If being a farm labourer who was only employed for eight to nine months of the year or a smallholder who was essentially self sufficient was better or worse than living in unsanitary, smoke-wreathed town to work sixteen hours a day in dangerous conditions is probably a matter of choice. That so many people chose to place themselves into bonded servitude in the colonies (a one-way trip) suggests that prospects at home were quite dire.
Obviously the income of the lower classes grew during the century, especially as the industrial revolution took off and affordable products became available creating the beginning of a consumer society, but life had its ups and downs and life remained really tough.The poor continued to be largely unenfranchised and discriminated against, living a grimy, unhealthy, arduous, short life.
I have never thought about if before, but I wonder if the revolutions and unrest in mainland Europe were related to imporvements in agriculture that were not matched by an industrial revolution.

Compare the lifestyle. Dark Satanic Mills Vs. Green and Pleasant Land.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Great Idea!!!
amberroberts09 is offline  
Old November 9th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #10

viking's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Apr 2011
From: Melbourne Australia
Posts: 1,461

18th century England was a time of transition from an agricultural economy to the Industrial Revolution. At the beginning little had changed since the collapse of feudalism. For the lower class it was a period of small villages, subsistence farming and common land. Then came the Acts of Enclosure which went on through the 19th century.
Large landholders saws a better return in sheep as they gave greater profit with lower labour requirements. A resulting class of vagrants was formed-- the landless. Not all lower classes were affected as enclosure was at first a relatively slow expansion. Those who remained actually benefited. It was the norm for subsistence farmers to have a winter source of income. The expansion of wool helped them. Weavers would collect the fleeces and distribute them to households to spin and dye the yarn which the weavers would collect to turn into cloth goods.This state of affairs was affected by the advent of power looms and spinning machines. Also affecting the small holder was the agricultural revolution. Mechanization of farming demanded capital and this the smallholder did not have ,
Production of woolen goods by machinery demanded power and that power initially came from water wheels. Again capital was needed and so the factory system was born. The landless now provided a cheap source of labour
Weavers especially, but the agricultural workers in general became Luddites, machine smashers and rick burners in a vain attempt to halt progress.
In the early stages unemployment, while a problem, was kept in check by the need to build canals and by the Napoleonic Wars which absorbed men for the armed services but also for ship building, cannon casting and other associated industries.
The coming of the steam engine and railways and a burgeoning cotton industry rightly belong to the 19th century
viking is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
18th, century, class, lower


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lower class place in socio-political life. based on 1984 ricka Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology 4 July 1st, 2012 08:26 PM
America in the 18th Century lizzi American History 1 May 31st, 2012 01:53 AM
How Large were Lower Class Houses in Ancient Athens? Leonidas Ancient History 11 December 27th, 2011 10:52 AM
Top ten generals of the 18th Century? nuclearguy165 War and Military History 11 December 10th, 2011 11:59 AM
18th Century Andriko History Book Reviews 12 February 8th, 2010 08:16 AM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.