Key economic changes that preceded the Industrial Revolution
Three great sets of economic changes preceded the industrial revolution and made it inevitable. These changes were in commerce, in agriculture and in industry. All these changes occurred first in England. The commercial revolution had developed before 1715. Banking and insurance had developed by 17th century and chartered trading companies were also functioning by 16th century. All these helped in the steady growth of trade. Banks financed, insurance protected and the trading companies facilitated the growth of trade.
England’s benefits were the most in comparison. The agricultural revolution followed the commercial one. The application of scientific discoveries to agriculture gained speed through more sincere efforts to increase productivity during 18th century. Seeds came to be planted in rows instead of being scattered. Rotation of crops also increased productivity. Jethro Tull and Viscount Townshend started these respectively in England. Livestock breeding was done by applying scientific methods, as done by Robert Bakewell. Arthur Young kept track of agricultural growth by his constant reports. While agricultural production increased, extra agricultural labourers were now leaving agriculture to join as industrial labourers. Thus, the agricultural revolution also helped the industrial revolution. The colonies supplied to the mother country raw-materials and became markets for the industrial produce of the mother country. In this way the commercial revolution also helped the industrial revolution. Similarly industrialization of Europe meant colonisation of the countries of Asia and, later, Africa.