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Society and Economy Under the Old Regime in the 18th Century


Chapter 15 Society and Economy Under the Old Regime in the 18th Century Watt s Steam Engine Iron Production Chief element of all heavy industry and land or sea ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Society and Economy Under the Old Regime in the 18th Century

Chapter 15
  • Society and Economy Under the Old Regime in the
    18th Century

The Old Regime
  • ancien régime the patterns of social, political,
    and economic relationships in France before 1789
    broadly, the life and institutions of
    pre-revolutionary Europe.
  • Politically Rule of absolute monarchs with
    growing bureaucracies and aristocratically led
  • Economically A scarcity of food, predominance
    of agriculture, slow transport, low level of iron
    production, unsophisticated financial
    institutions, and competitive commercial overseas
  • Socially People see themselves less as
    individuals, rather members of distinct corporate
    bodies that possessed certain privileges or
    rights as a group. Tradition, hierarchy,
    privilege, corporate feeling

Major Features of the Old Regime
  • Hierarchical society characterized by
  • Aristocratic elites with inherited legal
  • Established churches closely associated with the
    state and the aristocracy.
  • Urban labor force usually organized into guilds.
  • Rural peasantry subject to high taxes and feudal

The Aristocracy
  • 15 of population
  • Widest degree of social, political, economic
  • wealth based on land.
  • manual labor considered beneath the.m
  • interest in economic growth, innovation (like
    commercial classes)

Robert Andrews and His Wife 1748-49 by Thomas
The Aristocracy (cont.)
  • To be an aristocrat was a matter of birth and
    legal privilege.
  • This was common across Europe, but in every other
    respect, they differed from country to country.
  • British nobilitysmallest, wealthiest, best
    defined, most socially responsible
  • about 400 families, eldest males of each in House
    of Lords (also controlled House of Commons
    through corruption of Electoral system)
  • owned about ¼ of all arable land
  • few significant legal privileges, but great
    political power
  • French nobilityless clear-cut about 400,000
  • nobles of the swordnobility derived from
    military service
  • nobles of the robefrom service in bureaucracy,
    or purchased
  • some wealthy, some poor, but all shared certain
    hereditary privileges (exempt from taxes did not
    pay the land tax)

The Aristocracy (cont.)
  • Eastern European nobilitiesmilitary traditions
    important extensive repressive power over serfs.
  • Austria-Hungary nobility has broad judicial
    powers. Various degrees of exemption from
  • Prussia Junker nobility strong, due to wars of
    Frederick the Great. (officers)
  • Russia Peter the Great essentially creates the
    nobility. State service and the Table of Ranks
    established a class identity.
  • Charter of the Nobility Catherine the Great
    legally defined the rights and privileges of
    noble men and women in exchange for the assurance
    that the nobility would serve the state

Aristocratic Resurgence
  • Europe-wide reaction to threat from expanding
    power of monarchies
  • tried to preserve privileges by making nobility
    harder to attain.
  • pushed to reserve high-ranking military/government
    /church appointments for nobles
  • sought to leverage existing noble-controlled
    institutions (British Parliament, French
    parlements, German provincial diets, etc.)
  • tried to shore up wealth through new tax
    exemptions, raising rents

Peasants Serfs
  • lives of economic and social dependency,
    exploitation, vulnerability
  • power of European landlords increased from west
    to east
  • French peasants
  • banalitiés (feudal dues) use-for-payment of
    lords mill or oven.
  • corveé (annual forced labor)
  • Habsburg serfs near-slavery robot (compulsory
    service to lord)
  • Russian serfs worst off noble wealth measured
    by number of serfs, not acres. Rather economic
    commodities. They also had the right to punish
    their serfs. Serfs had no legal recourse against
  • Ottoman Empire (SE Europe)
  • peasants nominally free. M
  • Marginally empowered by scarcity of labor.
  • Cift Domain of a landlord.
  • Landlords resemble medieval relationship of
    refuge for peasants.

Vernet, Construction of a Road
Peasant Rebellions
  • Russia Over 50 revolts between 1762-1769.
  • Pugachevs Rebellion (17731775)
  • Land promised to serfs.
  • eventually crushed .
  • largest 18th c. uprising.
  • Eastern Europe smaller revolts in Bohemia
    (1775), Transylvania (1784), Moravia (1786),
    Austria (1789)
  • Western Europe almost no revolts, but rural
    riots in England usually attempts to assert
    traditional rights against innovationsthus
  • Emelyan Pugachev

English Game Laws
  • Clearest example of aristocratic dominance of the
    countryside and of aristocratic manipulation of
    the law to its own advantage was legislation on
  • 16711831 English landowners had exclusive legal
    right to hunt game animals.
  • Only persons owning a particular amount of land
    could hunt.
  • Excluded renters, merchants who did not own
    land, poor in cities and countryside.
  • upheld superior status of aristocracy (over
    peasants) and landed gentry (over commercial
  • Prime example of legislation directly related to
    economic and social status.

English Game Laws
  • gentry hired gamekeepers to guard against
    poachers killing deer by unauthorized persons
    became capital crime
  • poaching nonetheless populara source of food for
    the hungry
  • black market driven by urban demand for luxury
  • 1831 laws rewritten to permit landowners to
    allow others to hunt

Family Structure
  • family economy family was basic unit of
    production and consumption in preindustrial
  • Northwestern European households
  • nuclear familymarried couple, children through
    early teens, servants appx. 56 members average
  • More than 2 generations in same home rare.
  • High Mortality and late marriage prevented
    families of 3 generations or more.
  • married lateaverage age 26 (men), 23 (women).
    Children almost immediately.
  • Premarital sex very common.
  • servantsyoung people working in exchange for
    room, board, wages not necessarily socially
    inferior to employers normally ate with family,
    not necessarily someone looking after the needs
    of the wealthy.
  • Neolocalism practice of moving away from home.

Family Structure (cont.)
  • Eastern European households
  • marriage usually before 20, consequently children
    born to much younger parents.
  • Often, wives were older.
  • extended family3-4 generations, 9-20 members or
    more in rural Russia (early marriage)
  • aided by landlords need for labor

Family Economy
  • Living alone almost impossible and viewed with
    suspicion. Perceived as criminal, disruptive, or
    viewed as needing charity.
  • Household basic unit of production and
    consumption. All household members worked work
    products went to family, not individual.
  • Farming major occupation, but rarely adequateone
    or more family members might work elsewhere and
    send wages home (harvester, fisherman).
  • Skilled artisansfather chief artisan, wife often
    sold the wares, children learned the trade
  • Western Europe death of the father often meant
    disaster high mortality rate meant high personal
    and economic vulnerability.
  • Widows look to remarry quickly to prevent
    dependency on others.
  • High Mortality rate also means second families.

Women and the Family Economy
  • Womens lives largely determined by her ability
    to establish and maintain a household.
  • marriage an economic necessity that also
    fulfilled sexual and psychological needs.
  • Because economic independence was rare, women
    first sought to maintain their family homes, then
    they would devise a means to getting her own
    household to live in as adult.
  • Housework began at age 7. Would stay as long as
    her worth was maintained.
  • Once she leaves home, womans chief goal was to
    accumulate enough capital for a dowry. Her
    savings would make her eligible for marriage.
    This acquisition of wealth may take up to ten
    years, thus marriage was usually later in life.
  • Dominant concern was adequate food supply
    necessity of limiting number of childrenbirth

Children and the Family Economy
  • 18th c. childbirth dangerous for both mother and
    child due to contagious diseases, puerperal
    fever, and unsterilized medical instruments.
  • Midwives not skilled practitioners.
  • Mothers gave birth in conditions of immense
    poverty and wretched housing.
  • Wet nursing industrywell-developed, necessary
    because full-time motherhood usually impossible
    due to the need to support a family economically.
  • Children from the city could be sent to wet
    nurses in the country for months or even years.

Children and the Family Economy
  • Birth of a child often meant increased economic
    hardship some infanticide.
  • Foundling hospitals established for abandoned
    children, usually victims of poverty or
  • Paris Foundling House (1670)
  • London Foundling House (1739)
  • In peak year of 1772, 7600 children sent here.
  • Education not even a thought in terms of
    childrens development until the late 19th

Agricultural Revolution
  • Main goal of traditional peasant society was
    stable food supply.
  • Resistance to changes that might endanger food
  • Food supply never certain, especially if you went
  • Failure of harvest meant hardship and death.
  • Vulnerability to poor harvests, fluctuations in
    price of grain (bread)
  • Slow rise in grain prices through 18th c.
    triggers series of innovations in farm
    production Agricultural Revolution
  • Peasants often resisted and were brutally

Agricultural Innovations
  • Dutch, 16th 17th c. found better ways to drain
    land experimented with new crops (clover,
    turnips) used for animal fodder and soil
  • English, 18th c. biggest popularizers of earlier
  • Jethro Tull (16741741)agricultural
    experimenter invented seed drill
  • Charles Turnip Townsend (16741738)instituted
    crop rotation
  • Robert Bakewell (17251795)improved methods of
    animal breeding
  • enclosure replaced open-field or village method
    created large tracts of farmland out of small
    plots, common land, and waste areas put land
    into more productive use but caused turmoil for
    peasant farmers commercialization of agriculture
  • improvements more limited in the East

Jethro Tull (1674-1741)
Population Increases
  • Europe had seen population increases before but
    war, disease, and famine had balanced things out.
  • The increase of population put pressure on food
    prices, drove the agricultural innovation and
    spurred the Industrial Revolution.
  • Approximate population of non-Ottoman Europe
  • 1700 100120 million
  • 1800 190 million
  • 1850 260 million

Population Increases
  • Such extraordinary sustained growth put new
    demands on all resources and pressure on the
    existing social organization.
  • The death rate declined due to fewer wars and
    epidemics in the 18th century.
  • Better medical knowledge did not decrease deaths
    however. The more important medical advances
    came after the initial population increase.
  • Changes in food supply led to population
  • Grain production
  • The potato A single acre could feed a family
    for an entire year.
  • Food supply enables people to live longer and
    thus rear children of their own.

Population Increases
  • Cannot be overestimated.
  • Creates demand for food, goods, services, and
  • Provides new pool of labor.
  • Migration increases.
  • Leads to social and politically discontent.
  • Social practices of Old Regime literally outgrows
    its traditional bounds.

18th c. Industrial Revolution
  • Second half of 18th Century beginning of
    industrialization of European economy.
  • Virtually uninterrupted economic growth.
  • Made possible the greatest production of goods
    and services in history.
  • New means of production leads to new kinds of
  • Large labor force.
  • Met immediate demand and led to new demands.
  • Raised standard of living and overcame rampant

Consumer Revolution
  • Production of new goods driven by increases in
    demand (learning to want things)
  • Clothing, buttons, toys, china, furniture, rugs,
    candlesticks, brass/ silver/ pewter/ glassware,
    watches, jewelry, soap, beer, wine, foods.
  • Sparks the ingenuity of designers and inventors.
  • Social Factors
  • Dutch (17th C.) enjoy enormous prosperity.
  • Growth in disposable income (causes uncertain)
  • Income allows people to buy consumer goods that
    previous generations would not have been able to.
  • New methods of entrepreneurial marketing
  • Development of fashion industry

Consumer Revolution
  • Josiah Wedgwood
  • Gains business with elite then produces less
    expensive versions of items for middle class.
  • Used advertising, showrooms, and traveling
    salesmen to market his products.
  • New fashions and styles always better than the
    previous ones.
  • Fashion publications brought awareness of
    stylistic trends.
  • Changes of consumption of food and drink led to
    the need for different types of dishware.
  • Tea and coffee staples of society. Need for new
    types of cups and mugs.
  • Brewing industry commercialized.
  • Consumer economy became permanent feature of
    European economy, despite conflicts with
    Christian ethics

Industrialism in Great Britain
  • Britain was the home of the Industrial
    Revolution industrial leader of Europe through
    mid-19th c.
  • Factors
  • London largest city in Europe, center of
    fashion, taste.
  • Prominence of newspapers (advertising), increases
    consumer wants.
  • Social structure encourages imitation of social
  • Largest free-trade area in Europe
  • Rich in coal iron ore
  • Stable political structure, secure property,
    sound financial system
  • Comparatively high social mobility. People who
    had money or could earn it could rise socially.

Textile Production
  • Earliest industrial change took place in
    countryside, not cities
  • Domestic or putting-out system of textile
    production (family economy) urban textile
    merchants send wool and other fibers to homes of
    peasants who spun thread and wove cloth
  • Growing demand causes production bottlenecks,
    leading to famous inventions
  • Spinning jenny, c. 1765 (James Hargreaves)multipl
    e spindles of thread spun on one machine broke
    bottleneck between spinners weavers. Initially
    16 spindles but rose to 120 spindles by end of
  • Water frame, 1769 (Richard Arkwright)water-powere
    d device that produced purely cotton fabric,
    rather than cotton and linen took cotton textile
    manufacture out of the home and into the factory
  • Cotton output increased 800, 17801900

  • Spinning Jenny
  • James Hargreaves
  • Water Frame
  • Richard Arkwright

Steam Engine
  • Provided for the first time in history a steady
    and virtually unlimited source of inanimate
  • Portable source of power not dependent on nature
    (i.e. water or wind power) rather coal.

Steam Engine
  • Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729)
  • First practical engine to use steam power.
  • Large and inefficient.
  • James Watt
  • Scottish engineer.
  • 1776 His version of steam engine finds first
    commercial application pumping water from mines.

Watts Steam Engine
Iron Production
  • Chief element of all heavy industry and land or
    sea transport.
  • Production limitations, early 18th c.
  • Less than 25,000 tons of iron annually.
  • In the early 18c. Charcoal (derived from wood)
    rather than coke (form of coal) used to smelt
    ore. Charcoal does not burn as high and also
    wood was becoming scarce.
  • before steam engine, furnaces couldnt achieve
    high enough blasts
  • limited demand
  • elimination of first two problems eliminated the

Iron Production
  • Coke was abundant and the steam engine provided
    new power for the blasts.
  • This provides increase of iron production and
    iron demand.

Impact on Working Women
  • Displaced many of womens traditional economic
    roles in agriculture and textile manufacture as
    men took over heavy and skilled tasks and pushed
    women out
  • Women increasingly associated with work in the
    home rather than outside the home
  • Mens pay began outstripping womens

Growth of Cities
  • 1500 156 cities with more than 10,000 people 4
    with more than 100,000
  • 1800 363 with more than 10,000 17 with more
    than 100,000
  • greatest growth among capitals and ports, due to
    monarchical state-building and expansion of
    overseas trade

Urban Classes
  • urban rich segregated from poor
  • modern sanitation unknown, almost no pure water,
    farm animals roaming the streets
  • Upper Class nobles, large merchants, bankers,
    financiers, clergy, government officialsthe
    small oligarchy that ran the city
  • Middle Class (bourgeoisie) merchants,
    tradespeople, bankers, professionals diverse and
    divided normally supported reform, change,
    economic growth feared poor, envied nobility
  • Artisans grocers, butchers, fishmongers,
    carpenters, cabinetmakers, smiths, printers,
    tailors, etc.largest group in any city like
    peasants, were in many ways conservative
    economically vulnerable guilds still important

Urban Riots
  • outlet for artisans displeasure, often over
    price of bread
  • bread riots leaders confiscate bread or grain
    and sell it for just price, with money returned
    to proprietors
  • danger of bread riots restrained merchants greed
  • highly ritualized social feature of Old Regime
    economy of scarcity
  • other riots religious
  • riots became increasingly political toward end of
    18th c. often became a tool of upper classesuse
    the crowd against the monarchy, or against

The Jewish Population
  • most Jews lived in Eastern Europe
  • commonly regarded as a kind of nonresident alien,
    usually denied citizenship privileges unless
    specifically granted
  • lived everywhere in separate communities from
    non-Jews ghettos in the city or primarily Jewish
    villages in countryside
  • the age of the ghettodid not mix with
    mainstream societies
  • a few became famous for helping rulers finance
    wars, but most lived in poverty