The causes of the Industrial Revolution were an outgrowth of social and institutional changes brought by
the end of feudalism in Britain after the English Civil War in the 17th century. As national border controls
became more effective, the spread of disease was lessened, therefore preventing the epidemics common
in previous times.
The percentage of children who lived past infancy rose significantly, leading to a
larger workforce. The Enclosure movement and the British Agricultural Revolution made food production
more efficient and less labor-intensive, forcing the surplus population who could no longer find
employment in agriculture into cottage industry, for example weaving, and in the longer term into the
cities and the newly developed factories. The colonial expansion of the 17th century with the
accompanying development of international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of
capital are also cited as factors, as is the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
The accumulation of
capital in this way became known as the mercantile system.
The mercantile system allowed for them to
accumulate wealth off their colonies by creating a trade monopoly and allowing them to set tariffs as well
as a market for the goods produced in the new factories.
Natural Conditions were favorable
Britain was able to succeed in the Industrial Revolution due to the availability of key resources it
possessed. It had a dense population for its small geographical size. Enclosure of common land and the
related Agricultural Revolution made a supply of this labor readily available. There was also a local
coincidence of natural resources in the North of England, the English Midlands, South Wales and the
Scottish Lowlands. Local supplies of coal, iron, lead, copper, tin, limestone and water power, resulted in
excellent conditions for the development and expansion of industry. Also, the damp, mild weather
conditions of the North West of England provided ideal conditions for the spinning of cotton, providing a
natural starting point for the birth of the textiles industry.
The British colonies in the America’s, Egypt
and British India provided ideal conditions for the steady production of cotton as well as warmer climates
that produced food surpluses allowing more land in Britain to become factories.
The Agricultural Revolution
The British Agricultural Revolution describes a period of agricultural development in Britain between the
18th century and the end of the 19th century, which saw a massive increase in agricultural productivity
and net output. This in turn supported unprecedented population growth, freeing up a significant
percentage of the workforce, and thereby helped drive the Industrial Revolution. How this came about is
not entirely clear. In recent decades, enclosure, mechanization, four-field crop rotation, and selective
breeding have been highlighted as primary causes, with credit given to relatively few individuals.
Jethro Tull made the first advancements in agricultural technology with his seed drill (1701)—a