The Great Divergence -Jessica Liang - Liang 1 Jessica Liang...

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Liang Jessica Liang Professor Barry McCarron History 112 30 November 2015 When and Why did the “Great Divergence” occur? During the 19 th century, the Western world emerged as one of the wealthiest and most powerful populations, surpassing Qing China, Mughal India, Tokugawa Japan and the Ottoman Empire. The emerging of one of the wealthiest and most powerful civilizations of all time became known as the “Great Divergence”. Western Europe and parts of the New World were able to overcome pre-modern limitations that resulted in having advantages in technology and the economy. Many historians have speculated how “Great Divergence” originated and what led to the Western World becoming so powerful. Many historians such as Kenneth Pomeranz speculated that the “Great Divergence” began when there were coal deposits in Britain. The coal became an important resource for the fuel that led to many technological advances such as steam engines and water wheels. He also speculated that Western Europe became so powerful because of the trade tactics that were used which brought an abundance of wealth. Since the discovery of the New World, Western Europe took it upon themselves to colonize the new land and use the resources that were provided 1 . Another historian, Bin Wong, speculated that Western Europe was able to escape the constraints of an economy based on organic material and switch to an economy based on coal and minerals. He stated that Europe and China “ shared important similarities of preindustrial 1 Pomeranz, The Great Divergence (2000) 1
Liang economic expansion based on Smithian dynamics. These included increased rural industries, more productive agricultures, and expanded commercial networks" 2 . However, the defining difference between Europe and China was of the coal supply in Britain. Wong also believed that the geography of Europe led its determination to find resources and therefore advance further than any other parts of the world. Europe was not as unified as China was. Europe had competing states that led each state to “extract resources and wage war”.

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