The Industrial Revolution in Europe

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Time Line

1733 John Kay invents the flying shuttle
1763 James Watt improves the steam engine (invented 1698)
1764 James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny
1769 Richard Arkwright invents the water frame
1779 Samuel Crompton perfects the “spinning mule”
1787 Edmund Cartwright patents the steam-powered loom
1825 Railroad steam engine demonstrated
1830 Opening of Liverpool and Manchester Railway; German states establish Zollverein
1833 British factory legislation

The Industrial Revolution in Europe

The tale of modern European history can be seen as a series of revolutions. The Protestant Reformation was truly a revolution in Christian worship. The Scientific Revolution gave birth to a completely new way of thinking about the universe. The French Revolution attempted to establish a government along the lines of Enlightenment ideals. And the Industrial Revolution brought manufacturing into the modern era of mass production and consumption.

The Scientific Revolution, of course, was a major prerequisite of the Indus- trial Revolution. It created a climate of fascination with mechanics, physics, and technology without which the engineering achievements of the Industrial Revolution could never have taken place.

The Industrial Revolution began in Britain long before it developed on the European continent. This was due to a variety of factors, including Britain’s stable government and society and its lack of direct involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. British engineers and inventors developed most of the technology that would make the Industrial Revolution possible.

The Industrial Revolution arrived on the European continent around 1830; it took root first in the nations that already had the mercantile mind-set and the natural resources to make it happen. As the nineteenth century rolled on, the nation-states began altering and developing their banking systems, the source of finance that made industrial growth possible. In addition, governments soon saw from Britain’s example that by industrializing, they would make money on a vast scale; therefore, they supported laws and regulations that favored industrial development.

The Industrial Revolution also saw a major change in society; for the first time, individual workers realized that they had the power to improve their own working conditions. This did not happen overnight and it was met with fierce resistance from the owners and managers, but slowly the workers of Europe began to achieve recognition as a class with its own power and its own rights.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Industrial Revolution in Europe Practice Test

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