World History – I

Delhi Law Academy


•            Putting an end to the medieval age, the Renaissance marked the transition from middle age to the modern age.

•            It started in Italy first and spread over to other countries of Europe.

•            Renaissance expanded the horizon of human knowledge which reflected in various fields including art, literature and science.


•            Renaissance means “rebirth” or “revival”.

•            The spirit of renaissance started when many educated men turned from religious speculation to the study of ancient Greek and Roman authors.

•            They challenged the religious and philosophical teachings of the medieval church.

•            They developed their keen interest in the original works of Plato, Aristotle and others.

•            In fact, the writers introduced classical learning into the main stream of the western thought.

•            However, renaissance was not merely a revival of ancient learning. It developed the spirit of enquiry and freedom of thought.

•            Men were no more agreed to accept any teachings, customs and superstition of the past without question.

•            During renaissance people developed a critical attitude towards medieval setup.

•            Renaissance developed with a small group of educated people in Italy and spread to France, Germany and England etc.

Factors of Renaissance

The following causes paved the way for the advent of Renaissance.

1.           Downfall of Feudalism

•            The first and foremost factor of renaissance was the decline of feudalism. The feudal way virtually disappeared from western European countries by the 1500 A.D.

•            The middle class comprising of traders and businessmen provided financial support to the kings and thereby enabled them to reduce their dependence on the feudal lords.

•            Such developments contributed to the growth of individualism and fostered fast the cause of Renaissance.

2.           Impacts of Crusades

•            There were many religious wars in between the Christians and Muslims in 11th and 14th century.

•            As a result of which the western scholars came in contact with the East which was more civilized and polished.

•            A number of western scholars went to the universities of Cairo, Cardona etc. and learned many new ideas which they subsequently spread in Europe.

•            New ideas and scientific orientations greatly enriched the western mind to give place to Renaissance.

3.           Downfall in the influence of church

•            The church dominated the medieval society. However, the Church suffered a setback in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

•            A number of strong monarchs challenged the temporal power of the Church. For instance, in 1296 A.D. King Phillip IV of France got the pope arrested and made him a prisoner. This gave a serious blow to the power and prestige of the pope.

•            Even Church lost the faith of common people due to rise of various rituals and corruption among the clergy.

4.           Contribution of progressive rulers and nobles

•            Some progressive rulers, popes and nobles adopted a lot of measures to boost in the ushering of the Renaissance.

•            Rulers like Francis I of France, Henry VIII of England, Charles V of Spain, Christian II of Denmark etc. gave patronage to scholars and caused the revival of Greco-Roman classics.

•            Furthermore, popes like Nicholas V and Leo X etc. encouraged the study of ancient Greek and Roman classical and patronized classical art, sculpture, music etc.

5.           Geographical discovery

•            Geographical voyage was a potent factor of Renaissance.

•            The invention of mariners’ compass encouraged the sea adventurers. It enabled them to know the exact direction in which they were sailing. The notions about the shape and size of the world in vogue were also challenged.

•            Later on, with the discovery of telescope people were able to scan the sky and started the study of astronomy. They also got knowledge on the real position of earth in the solar system.

•            All this knowledge went against the Church and contributed a lot in the weakening of the authority of the ecclesiastical system.

6.           Economic prosperity

•            There was remarkable progress in trade and commerce during 12th and 13th centuries.

•            This greatly helped in the growth of wealth and prosperity of the people in Europe and a wealthy class of traders, bankers and manufactures emerged. This class patronized artists and scholars.

•            The class also provided security and protection to the artists and encouraged them to produce outstanding works, which helped in the emergence of renaissance.

7.           Invention of Printing press

•            The invention of printing machine was responsible for Renaissance.

•            In 1454 printing machine printed letters and printed books. With the march of time; printing machines were established in Italy, France, Belgium and other European countries.

•            Thus, books could be published very easily with a short span of time. People could easily get books and learnt many things.

•            This galvanized Renaissance.

8.           Fall of Constantinople

•            The main cause of Renaissance was the fall of Constantinople. For long it served as the centre of education and culture.

•            In the year 1453 A.D. Muhammad-II of Ottoman Empire occupied Constantinople and devasted it. Out of fear, the Greek and Latin pundits left Constantinople and entered into different cities of Italy like Milan, Napoli, Rome etc.

•            They taught mathematics, history, geography, philosophy, astronomy, medicine etc. to the people of Italy and thus they paved the way for Renaissance.

Italy as the birth place of Renaissance

•            Renaissance first began in Italy.

•            Italians first produced masterpieces of literature, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and science which became a source of perennial inspiration to others in subsequent years.

•            Renaissance ushered in Italy on account of number of following reasons.

1.           Past Glory of Italy

•            Italy was the centre of the glorious Roman civilization. All the historical remains and relics of the great Roman Empire lay scattered there.

2.           Arrival of Greek Scholars

•            After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, many Greek scholars and thinkers migrated to Italy along with their original manuscripts and art treasures.

•            The scholars instilled a spirit of enquiry among the people of Italy.

•            They encouraged the Italians to study classics.

3.           Economic prosperity

•            Italy had enormous wealth as a result of trade. The economic prosperity of Italy greatly contributed to Renaissance.

•            Wealthy merchants extended patronage to artists. They used their wealth in the revival of classical culture and literature.

•            For instance, Florence which was one of the flourishing cities of Italy became a great centre of scholars.

4.           Italian contact with Asia

•            The crusades established newly contact with Asia.

•            This contact broadened their vision. They reoriented their lifestyle.

•            All this provided an impetus to Renaissance.

Renaissance and Literature

•            The Renaissance literature took its birth in Italy. The first notable work in this direction was Dante’s “Divine Comedy”. The book was written in Italian language for the common people.

•            Another pioneer of Renaissance thought was Francesco Petrarch. The medieval thought was monastic, ascetic and other worldly. In contrast, Petrarch glorified the secular or worldly interest of life and humanism.

•            Renaissance also influenced the literature of other countries of Europe.

•            In England Thomas Mores’ “Utopia”, Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained” were very famous which were created during this period.

•            During renaissance, William Shakespeare the great Playwriter of England became famous for his plays.

•            The Spanish writer Cervantes “Don Quixote”. Martin Luther of Germany translated the “Bible” into Germany language. The writing of famous Dutchman Erasmus gave new dimension to the literature.

Renaissance Art

•            Renaissance was greatly reflected in art. In the middle age the chief art was essentially Christian. The church had controlled the artist freedom of thought and action.

•            However, the Renaissance artists developed a growing interest in classical civilization.

Renaissance Architecture

•            Renaissance had a greater impact in the field of architecture. Great masterpieces of Greeks and Romans were discovered and imitated by the Italian and other European artists.

•            The builders of Renaissance age constructed many churches, palaces and massive buildings on the Greek and Roman style.

•            The pointed arches of the churches and palaces were substituted by round arches, domes or by the plain lines of the Greek temples.

•            The St Peter’s Church of Rome” the cathedral of Milan and the palaces of Venice and Florence were some of the remarkable specimens of Renaissance architecture. Gradually renaissance architecture spread to France and Spain.

Renaissance Painting

•            During Renaissance the painters brought excellent painting.

•            Among the painters, Leonardo-da-Vinci had a unique position. Leonardo has become immortal for his famous painting of “Monalisa”.

Michael Angelo’s paintings like “Creation of Adam” and “the Last Judgment” bear testimony of his superb skill.

Another great was Raphael. His painting Sistine Madonna made him world famous painter. In short, the Renaissance painting bore the stamp of originality in every aspect.

Renaissance and Science

In the Renaissance age, science developed to a great extent. The development in astronomy, medicine and other aspects of science made this age distinct.

In the realm of scientific discoveries, the name of Copernicus of Poland is chanted with reverence. He stated that the sun is static and the earth and other planets revolve round the sun. His view was contrary to the medieval belief that the earth was the centre of the universe. The Christian priests vehemently criticized Copernicus. However, he remained firm in his faith.

The view of Copernicus was supported by the famous German scientist John Kepler.

A great scientist of repute of that age was Sir Isaac Newton of England. In his famous book In Principia, he stated about the Laws of Gravitation. His theory of motion also made him famous as a great scientist. The causes of tide were also discovered by him.

Another great scientist of the age was Galileo of Italy. He invented Telescope and through that instrument he proved the theory of Copernicus was absolutely true. He also proved that the Milky Way consists of stars. His pendulum theory helped later on for inventing clock.

William Harvey of England had discovered the “process of blood circulation”.

Features of Renaissance.

Renaissance had the following features

1.           Humanism

Renaissance gave great importance on Humanism. the scholars emphasized the worth of man and tried to project the individual as a free agent.

2.           Classicism

In the Renaissance age the people adopted classical art forms. Almost all the fine arts like architectures, sculpture, music, painting, etc. made tremendous progress during this period.

3.           Natural and experimental sciences

During Renaissance there was all round development of natural and experimental sciences.

o            Copernicus of Poland challenged the Geo-centric theory i.e. the earth was the centre of solar system. He proved the Helio-centric theory i.e. the sun is static and the earth moves round the sun.

o            This theory was farther developed by Kepler and he gave his laws of planetary motion.

4.           Growth of Vernacular Literature

The Renaissance age witnessed enormous growth of vernacular literature.

The people wrote in the language which could be easily understood by the people.

It avoided Latin language which was not easily comprehended by the people.

The resulted in the growth of various European languages.

In Italy Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio produced outstanding literatures.

In England Chaucer rendered great service to the cause of English language.

Likewise in Germany Luther preferred to write in German rather than Latin. He translated Bible in German language.

In Spain Cervantes produced Don Quixote and in France Rabelais rendered great service to the enrichment of French literature.

Latin language lost the predominant position which it once enjoyed.

Importance of Renaissance

The importance of renaissance was very high. It left deep impact on art, architecture, science and above all on human thinking.

1.           Scientific outlook

Renaissance developed the scientific outlook. The development of scientific outlook gave this scientific encouraged new discoveries and inventions.

It gave a blow to the position of the Church. At that time people became critical of the superstitions and meaningless rituals practiced by the Church.

They insisted on the reforms of the Church. This paved the way for the reformation movement which brought many changes in the church.

Renaissance encouraged the people to accept the things only if they appeal to their reason.

2.           Enriched Vernacular literature

The Renaissance provided an impetus to vernacular literature.

The writers began to write in the common languages.

They concentrated on topics of common human interest.

3.           New form of Arts

Renaissance led to new forms of paintings, sculpture, architecture, music etc.

This rendered valuable service to the growth of fine arts.

4.           Process of colonialism

Renaissance encouraged new discoveries and inventions.

The invention of Mariner’s Compass during the renaissance period provided an impetus to navigation.

It also paved the way for the process of colonialism.

There were races for colonies among various European nations.

5.           Evolution of strong monarchy

Another notable contribution of Renaissance was the evolution of strong monarchy in Europe.

They gave serious blow to the authority of the Church and the feudal system.

The monarchy was able enough to establish peace, security and political stability in their respective nations.

All these things greatly enhanced the power and authority of the European nations.

6.           Prelude to Reformation

The Renaissance paved the way for the reformation movement.

The Renaissance was the awakening of Europe from its long period of slumber in the Dark Ages.

Due to Renaissance stagnation gave place to progress and intellectual activity replaced unscientific questioning.

 The new scientific spirit, the spirit of enquiry, observation, and experiment encouraged the people to think rationally.

They also questioned to the authority of the Church. All these factors made Reformation inevitable.


•            The Protestant Reformation was the 16th century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era.

•            In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice.

•            They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes.

•            The disruption triggered wars, persecutions and the so-called Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church’s delayed but forceful response to the Protestants.

Dating the Reformation

•            Historians usually date the start of the Protestant Reformation to the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses.”

•            The key ideas of the Reformation—a call to purify the church and a belief that the Bible, not tradition, should be the sole source of spiritual authority—were not themselves novel.

•            However, Luther and the other reformers became the first to skillfully use the power of the printing press to give their ideas a wide audience.

The Reformation: Germany and Lutheranism

•            Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg, Germany, when he composed his “95 Theses,” which protested the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance, or indulgences.

•            Although he had hoped to spur renewal from within the church, in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated.

•            Sheltered by Friedrich, elector of Saxony, Luther translated the Bible into German and continued his output of vernacular pamphlets.

•            By the Reformation’s end, Lutheranism had become the state religion throughout much of Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltics.

The Reformation: Switzerland and Calvinism

•            The Swiss Reformation began in 1519 with the sermons of Ulrich Zwingli, whose teachings largely paralleled Luther’s.

•            In 1541 John Calvin, a French Protestant who had spent the previous decade in exile writing his “Institutes of the Christian Religion,” was invited to settle in Geneva and put his Reformed doctrine into practice.

•            Calvin’s Geneva became a hotbed for Protestant exiles, and his doctrines quickly spread to Scotland, France, Transylvania and the Low Countries, where Dutch Calvinism became a religious and economic force for the next 400 years.

The Reformation: England and the “Middle Way”

•            In England, the Reformation began with Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, the English king declared in 1534 that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church.

•            Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people.

•            Beginning in 1536, every parish was required to have a copy.

•            In 1559 Elizabeth I took the throne and, during her 44-year reign, cast the Church of England as a “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with vernacular worship and a revised Book of Common Prayer.

The Counter-Reformation

•            The Catholic Church was slow to respond to the theological and publicity innovations of Luther and the other reformers.

•            The Council of Trent, which met off and on from 1545 through 1563, articulated the Church’s answer to the problems that triggered the Reformation and to the reformers themselves.

•            The Catholic Church of the Counter-Reformation era grew more spiritual, more literate and more educated.

•            New religious orders, notably the Jesuits, combined rigorous spirituality with a globally minded intellectualism, while mystics such as Teresa of Avila injected new passion into the older orders.

•            Inquisitions, both in Spain and in Rome, were reorganized to fight the threat of Protestant heresy.

The Reformation’s Legacy

•            Along with the religious consequences of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation came deep and lasting political changes.

•            Northern Europe’s new religious and political freedoms came at a great cost, with decades of rebellions, wars and bloody persecutions.

•            But the Reformation’s positive repercussions can be seen in the intellectual and cultural flourishing it inspired on all sides of the schism—in the strengthened universities of Europe, the Lutheran church, music of J.S. Bach, the baroque altarpieces of Pieter Paul Rubens and even the capitalism of Dutch Calvinist merchants.

Important Questions:

Where and when did the Reformation start?

•            The Reformation is said to have begun when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.

What did the Reformation do?

•            The Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity.

•            The Reformation led to the reformulation of certain basic tenets of Christian belief and resulted in the division of Western Christendom between Roman Catholicism and the new Protestant traditions.

•            The spread of Protestantism in areas that had previously been Roman Catholic had far-reaching political, economic, and social effects.

Who were some of the key figures of the Reformation?

•            The greatest leaders of the Reformation undoubtedly were Martin Luther and John Calvin.

•            Martin Luther precipitated the Reformation with his critiques of both the practices and the theology of the Roman Catholic Church.

•            John Calvin was the most important figure in the second generation of the Reformation, and his interpretation of Christianity, known as Calvinism, deeply influenced many areas of Protestant thought.

•            Other figures included Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther; the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, who essentially declared war on Protestantism; Henry VIII, king of England, who presided over the establishment of an independent Church of England; and Huldrych Zwingli, a Swiss reformer.


•            The Enlightenment, a philosophical movement that dominated in Europe during the 18th century, was centered around the idea that reason is the primary source of authority and legitimacy

•            It advocated such ideals as liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.

•            The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy.

•            The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the church and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.

•            French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution.  

•            The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789 and emphasized the rights of the common men, as opposed to the exclusive rights of the elites.


•            In the mid-18th century, Europe witnessed an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity that challenged traditional doctrines and dogmas.

•            The philosophic movement was led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law, and for science based on experiments and observation.

•            The political philosopher Montesquieu introduced the idea of a separation of powers in a government, a concept which was enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the United States Constitution.

•            While the philosophers of the French Enlightenment were not revolutionaries, and many were members of the nobility, their ideas played an important part in undermining the legitimacy of the Old Regime and shaping the French Revolution.

•            There were two distinct lines of Enlightenment thought:

o            The radical enlightenment, advocating democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression, and eradication of religious authority

o            A second, more moderate variety, supported by René Descartes, John Locke, Isaac Newton and others, sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of power and faith.

•            Much of what is incorporated in the scientific method (the nature of knowledge, evidence, experience, and causation), and some modern attitudes towards the relationship between science and religion, were developed by David Hume and Adam Smith.

•            Hume became a major figure in the sceptical philosophical and empiricist traditions of philosophy.

•            Immanuel Kant tried to reconcile rationalism and religious belief, individual freedom and political authority, as well as map out a view of the public sphere through private and public reason.

•            Mary Wollstonecraft was one of England’s earliest feminist philosophers. She argued for a society based on reason, and that women, as well as men, should be treated as rational beings.


•            While the Enlightenment cannot be pigeonholed into a specific doctrine or set of dogmas, science came to play a leading role in Enlightenment discourse and thought.

•            Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had backgrounds in the sciences, and associated scientific advancement with the overthrow of religion and traditional authority in favor of the development of free speech and thought.

•            Broadly speaking, Enlightenment science greatly valued empiricism and rational thought, and was embedded with the Enlightenment ideal of advancement and progress.

•            Science during the Enlightenment was dominated by scientific societies and academies, which had largely replaced universities as centers of scientific research and development.

•            Another important development was the popularization of science among an increasingly literate population.

•            Many scientific theories reached the wide public, notably through the Encyclopédie (a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772) and the popularization of Newtonianism.

•            The 18th century saw significant advancements in the practice of medicine, mathematics, and physics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which established the foundations of modern chemistry.

Modern Western Government

•            The Enlightenment has long been hailed as the foundation of modern western political and intellectual culture.

•            It brought political modernization to the west, in terms of focusing on democratic values and institutions, and the creation of modern, liberal democracies.

•            The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes ushered in a new debate on government with his work Leviathan in 1651. Hobbes also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought: the right of the individual; the natural equality of all men;  the view that all legitimate political power must be “representative” and based on the consent of the people; and a liberal interpretation of law which leaves people free to do whatever the law does not explicitly forbid.

•            John Locke and Rousseau also developed social contract theories.

•            While differing in details, Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau agreed that a social contract, in which the government’s authority lies in the consent of the governed, is necessary for man to live in civil society.

•            Locke’s theory of natural rights has influenced many political documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence and the French National Constituent Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.


•            Enlightenment era religious commentary was a response to the preceding century of religious conflict in Europe.

•            Enlightenment thinkers sought to curtail the political power of organized religion, and thereby prevent another age of intolerant religious war.

•            A number of novel ideas developed, including Deism (belief in God the Creator, with no reference to the Bible or any other source) and atheism.

•            The radical Enlightenment promoted the concept of separating church and state, an idea often credited to Locke.

o            According to Locke’s principle of the social contract, the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control.

o            For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he said must therefore remain protected from any government authority.

o             These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with the social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution.


•            Rationalism, or a belief that we come to knowledge through the use of logic, and thus independently of sensory experience, was critical to the debates of the Enlightenment period, when most philosophers lauded the power of reason but insisted that knowledge comes from experience.

•            René Descartes (1596-1650), the first of the modern rationalists, laid the groundwork for debates developed during the Enlightenment.

o            He thought that the knowledge of eternal truths could be attained by reason alone (no experience was necessary).


•            Since the Enlightenment, rationalism in politics historically emphasized a “politics of reason” centered upon rational choice, utilitarianism, and secularism.

Natural Rights

•            Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and are therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).

o            They are usually defined in opposition to legal rights, or those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system.

•            Although natural rights have been discussed since antiquity, it was the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment that developed the modern concept of natural rights, which has been critical to the modern republican government and civil society.

•            During the Enlightenment, natural rights developed as part of the social contract  theory.

o            The theory addressed the questions of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual.


•            The Industrial Revolution refers to the greatly increased output of machine-made goods that began in England during the 18th century.

•            Before the Industrial Revolution, people wove textiles by hand. Beginning in the middle 1700s, machines did this and other jobs as well.

•            The Industrial Revolution started in England and soon spread to Continental Europe and North America.

•            It brought economic changes which took place in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries and completely transformed the European society.

•            The Industrial Revolution brought about two main changes, viz. it replaced the domestic system by factory system and small-scale production by mass production.

Difference Between Industrial Revolution & French, Russian Revolution?

•            The Industrial Revolution fundamentally differed from other revolutions. Whereas the other revolutions like the American Revolution, French Revolution and Russian were accomplished with violence, it was essentially peaceful in character.

•            Again, unlike other revolutions, it has no definite beginning and end. Whereas the other revolutions commenced on specific dates and came to an end after accomplishing the desired objective, the industrial revolution is an on-going process.

•            Finally, unlike other revolutions which try to promote and protect the interests of the down-trodden sections of society, the industrial revolution caused untold misery to the working classes.

o            It provided the capitalists with all types of luxuries and boundless sources of enjoyment and workers fell victims to dirt, disease, sorrow, suffering etc.

The Scientific & Technological Innovations, which made the Revolution possible

Steam Power

•            The invention of the use of steam was one of the most revolutionary discoveries which greatly facilitated the adoption of the machine methods of production.

•            Prior to the discovery of the system power also machines were in use, but the progress was rather slow due to lack of good motive power. These machines were worked on water or wind-power.

•            The discovery of the steam power solved this problem. It was independent of the weather and was also not limited by conditions of place. Steam power could be generated at any place and in any quantity according to the requirements.

Iron and Steel

•            The introduction of steam-driven machinery also made it desirable that the wood machinery should be replaced by machinery made of some durable material, and thus usage of iron was a natural development.

•            The metal industry made yet another breakthrough with the discovery of cheap methods of making steel, which was superior to iron on account of its lightness, hardness and durability.

•            It particularly proved quite useful for the making of rails, building of ships and construction of factories and dwelling houses.

Development of Coal Industry

•            The increasing use of steam power and iron and steel necessitated the development of coal industry.

•            In fact, coal and the iron are the two foundations of the modern industrial society and a country lacking in either stands at a disadvantage.

Changes in Means of Communication

•            Between 1800 and 1820 about 200 miles of rail lines were in operation in Britain. They were mainly used to carry raw material. Efforts were also made to bring improvements in road and inland waterways.

•            As heavy goods such as iron and coal could not be carried to distant places by means of roads, the people took to the use of water as a means of communication by digging new canals.

•            After the arrival of the steam engine, steam boats also began to be used which revolutionized the water transport system.

o            First, railroads spurred industrial growth by giving manufacturers a cheap way to transport materials and finished products.

o            Second, the railroad boom created hundreds of thousands of new jobs for both railroad workers and miners.

o            Third, the railroads boosted England’s agricultural and fishing industries, which could transport their products to distant cities.

Textile Industry

By 1800, several major inventions had modernized the cotton industry.

o            First the invention of flying shuttle, a boat-shaped piece of wood to which yarn was attached, doubled the work a weaver could do in a day.

o            Later in 1764, a textile worker invented a spinning wheel he named after his daughter, spinning jenny, allowed one spinner to work eight threads at a time.

o            Later many small adaptations to these developed a spinning mule. The spinning mule made thread that was stronger, finer, and more consistent than earlier spinning machines.

Causes of Industrial Revolution in England

Small Population

•            The small size of England’s population necessitated it to increase productivity as production levels could not cope with England’s growing trade, also necessitated that new devices should be found out to keep production in line with the growing demand.

•            The shortage of the labour force compelled; the owners to encourage and apply new mechanical devices.

Protestant Religion

•            A factor which contributed to England’s lead in the technological revolution was that the English scientists and engineers had a very practical bent of mind.

•            This was a direct result of the presence of protestant religion, as it enabled people to ask questions instead of maintaining blind faith.

Enormous Expansion in Overseas Trade of Britain

•            During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Britain had established an extensive colonial empire and successfully established monopoly over trade in these markets.

•            The growing demand for the British goods in these markets gave a stimulus to the British manufacturers to take to machine methods.

o            It is well known that the mechanical inventions of textile industry were invented to increase the production of cotton cloth which was in great demand in India. These inventions are sometimes spoken of as the primary cause of the Industrial Revolution.

Availability of Capital

•            The increasing inflow of capital which Britain accumulated out of profits of its growing trade enabled it to make invest greatly on machinery and buildings, which in turn contributed to new technological developments.

Social and Political Stability

•            Britain not only enjoyed complete freedom of trade but also an insulated geographical location. This factor greatly helped in industrial revolution, as being cut-off from the mainland of Europe, England remained immune from wars and upheavals of Napoleonic conflicts and conditions remained quite stable in the country.

•            These stable conditions enabled England to develop their industrial capacity without fear of battle, damage or loss of life.

•            This social stability prevailing in England encouraged the people to invest in sectors where they could hope to receive high dividend in future. This led to adoption of new techniques and promotion of new industries.

The Availability of Coal and Iron Mines Close to each Other

•            The location of the coal and iron mines close to each other encouraged the English to evolve new techniques for the manufacture of iron and utilization of the coals.

Better Means of Transport

•            England possessed a far better network of means of transportation than any other country of Europe which greatly helped the industrial revolution.

•            In this task the government played an important role which spent considerable amount on the improvement of roads and construction of canals.

Impact of Industrial Revolution

Industrial revolution led to the rise of industrial capitalism and finance capitalism.

o            Before the industrial revolution goods were produced at home with the help of simple and cheap tools which did not need much capital.

o            But with the installation of big machines huge funds were needed and a class of capitalist made its appearance.

•            However, with the passage of time the industrial operations grew still more complex and enormous funds were needed which could not be provided by the capitalists from their individual resources.

•            Therefore, they began to look to-wards investment bankers for these funds. This ushered in era of Finance Capital.

Social Impacts

•            In the first place, the growth of factory system resulted in the growth of new cities. Workers shifted to places near the factories where they were employed.

This resulted in the growth of a number of new cities like Leeds, Manchester, Burmingham and Sheffield in Britain, which soon became the centres of industry, trade and commerce.

•            Secondly, the rise of cities was accompanied by the growth of slums. As a large number of workers had to be provided accommodation, long rows of small one-room houses without garden or other facilities were built. In the dark, dingy and dirty houses the workers fell easy prey to various types of diseases and often died premature deaths.

•            Thirdly, industrial revolution led to sharp divisions in society. The society got divided into two classes-the bourgeois and the proletariat.

•            The former consisted of factory owners, great bankers, small industrialists, merchants and professional men. They amassed great wealth and paid very low wages to the workers.

•            The other class consisted of labourers who merely worked as tools in the factories. With the passage of time the lot of the capitalist classes went on improving and that of the working classes went on deteriorating. This caused great social disharmony and gave rise to conflict between the capitalists and the workers.

Political Impact

•            In the political sphere also the industrial revolution had manifold impact.

•            In the first place it led to colonization of Asia and Africa. Great Britain and other industrial countries of Europe began to look for new colonies which could supply them the necessary raw materials for feeding their industries and also serve as ready market for their finished industrial products. Therefore, the industrial countries carved out extensive colonial empires in the nineteenth century.

•            Secondly, industrial revolution sharply divided the countries. The industrially advanced countries which possessed necessary finances and technical know-how, invested their surplus capital in the backward countries and fully exploited their resources and crippled their industries. Thus, the world came to be divided into two groups-the developed and the underdeveloped world, which is a cause of great tension even at present.

•            Thirdly, as a result of the Industrial Revolution a large number of Europeans went across the oceans and settled down in America and Australia and contributed to the Europeanization of these countries. It has been estimated that as against 145,000 people which left Europe in 1820’s, over 9 million people left Europe between 1900 and 1910.

Industrial Revolution and Capitalism

•            Industrialization led to the decline of feudalism in Europe. A new system of society called Capitalism arose in its place.

•            It was an economic system in which the means of production and distribution were privately owned and operated for profit.

•            This system gave rise to two new social classes one was that of the factory owners who owned the factories and employed and paid wages to factory workers.

•            Imperialism is the policy of extending political and economic control over a weak country by a powerful one. The phenomena gained strength in the nineteenth century AD, largely due to the Industrial Revolution.

•            A market for manufactured goods and sources for obtaining cheap raw materials for producing more goods were desperately needed. This led the European nations to acquire colonies in the politically and militarily weak countries of Asia and Africa.

The Industrial Revolution was a mixed blessing. It had both advantages and disadvantages.


(i)          Centre of economic life shifted from the villages to cities and towns where the factories were situated.

(ii)         Urban (cities) and rural (villages) life became dependent upon one another. Isolated life of self-sufficient villages came to an end.

(iii)        Men became free to develop their capabilities in areas other than farming.

(iv)        It brought countries and people together. There was an international awareness among people because developments in one country influenced the others.

(v)         The aristocracy and nobility with their feudal ideas were replaced by the newly rich middle-class capitalists (bourgeoisie) who also became politically powerful.

(vi)        Better transport, communications and mechanized goods made life comfortable for man.


(i)          Cities became crowded, smoky, with problems of slums, housing, sanitation, accidents and epidemics.

(ii)         Women and child labour were badly exploited.

(iii)        Workers suffered from long working hours, low wages, and unemployment, unsafe conditions of work, with no rights to vote strike or form trade unions.

(iv)        Society became divided into rich and poor, the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have- Nots’.

(v)         It led to wars of imperialism and colonization.