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date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Industry was the most dynamic sector of the European economy in the early modern period, during which it was characterized by both specialization and diversification. This chapter explores the various industries of early modern Europe, examines their forms of organization, and investigates the causes of their differing regional distribution and growth trajectories. Historical scholarship has mainly focused on the causes of industrial growth, especially with regard to later factory industrialization. Starting with theories of ‘proto-industrialization’ and the ‘industrious revolution’, this chapter examines the preconditions for early modern European industrial growth by analysing their effect on costs. To this end, it investigates the roles played by nature, rural society, and urban society. It finds that natural endowments had considerable effects on a number of early modern European industries, but ultimately the strongest impact was exercised by the comparative costs of sociopolitical institutions.

Keywords: Proto-industry, industrious revolution, Industrial Revolution, guilds, putting-out-system, transaction costs, opportunity costs

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