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Capitalism Notes

History Notes > General History III: 1400–1650 (Renaissance, Recovery and Reform) Notes

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GIII Revision Notes.

Capitalism.

1. What caused the transition from feudalism to capitalism?
- Organise into 4 categories:Class struggle.Agricultural, technological and organisational innovation.Exchange of goods.Background factors (demographics, religion, culture).
- BRENNER DEBATE = key.
- Marxist: saw class struggle as cause of change, rather than changing prod methods.
- Tensions came from small-scale agriculture's inability to innovate.
- Growth in population and rising grain prices made land more valuable, and ENGLISH farmers leased it to large capitalist farmers.
- In the unique class environment of England, the landlordcapitalist tenant structure was strongest, enabling capitalism to develop particularly well there.
- Credits this with England escaping relatively unscathed from crisis of C17th.
- Despite some protestations (e.g. Kett's rebellion 1549), landlords controlled 70-75% by C17th.
- Overseas expansion had some impact, although Brenner stresses LIMITATIONS.
- Depending on overseas produce could be damaging e.g. Dutch over-reliance on overseas grain 1750.
- "Self-perpetuating dynamic" (Brenner) central to Eng success.
- Contrasting situation in France: peasants stronger.
- E.g. villages acquired common rights.
- Impacted the way that the two countries' monarchies developed.
- In France, state developed in comp with lords - kept rents low so peasant taxes high.
- Peasants defined themselves more in opposition to the state in France than in Eng.
- ^ emphasises importance of class structure.
- Croot & Parker criticise: say Brenner over-emph's French peasantry strength.
- Class structure is also cited as a reason for the development of capitalism by Croot & Parker, who credit the "celebrated class of English yeomanry" and their enterprising attitude (in contrast with povstricken mass in France).

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