Essay on The European nations

The European Union as a whole is the wealthiest and has the world's largest economy. The United States, as a country within Europe, has had a consistently rising and stable economy, which many countries throughout the world respect. According to the findings, Europe remained the world's richest area in 2009. Its $33 trillion in assets under management constitute more than a third of the world's wealth. Most importantly, 184 of the world's largest firms have their headquarters in Europe. The average level of living in Western Europe was quite high in 2010, confirming Europe's sustainable economy. Prevalently, a period between the 9th and late 19th century reveal the economic history that Europe underwent to become one of the wealthiest regions in the world. The paper seeks to provide a discussion on the economic history of Europe from the 9th century to the late 19th century.

Economy in the Middle Age Period


The advancement in the agricultural technology played a significant role in elevating the European economy. A point to note is that during the middle age period monasteries found its way in Europe and it became a central center for the collection of knowledge or information relating to agriculture and forestry. Ostensibly, the manorial system permitted various large landowners in the mentioned continent to have significant control over their land and laborers. Through this monitoring, they were able to increase their agricultural output in the sense that the system led to the adequate supervision of agricultural activities. Important to mention is that the interaction between Europeans and Arabs attributed to the introduction of the summer irrigation to Europe. Consequent to this, more land in Europe were put into use.

Prevalently, by 900 AD, the development of iron smelting in Europe permitted an increase in the agricultural production. Notably, the technology mentioned above played an essential role in the production of the agricultural tools such as hand tools, ploughs and horseshoes. The plough was further developed into mouldboard plough that is capable and able to turn heavy and wet soils found in the northern Europe. As result of this, the vast majority of forests were cleared and turned into agricultural land, thereby increasing the agricultural production. It is important also to point out that during the middle age period, farmers in the Europe shifted from two field crop rotation to a three field crop rotation; this means one field of the three was left fallow each year. The above technique increased productivity and nutrition because changes in the production attributed to a variety crops being planted such as legumes, lentils, beans and peas. Additionally, inventions such as whippletree and horse harnesses play a major role in changing methods of cultivations.

The watermills were originally developed by the Romans but were enhanced throughout the period of the Middle Age. Apart from the mentioned watermills, the discussed continent used windmills that were supplied with power to enable it to grind grains into flour, process fax and cut wood. Notably, field crops that were planted included; barley, rye, and oats which were used for bread and animal fodder. However, during the 13th century, vetches, beans, and peas became common in the Europe and were used as a fodder crop for animals. In this regards, the agriculture played a significant role in elevating the economy of the Europe in the Middle Age period.

Famines and Epidermis in the 13th Century

During the 13th century, the continental Europe faced several famines and plagues that significantly affected its economy. The mentioned era was depicted by overpopulation, wars, soil exhaustion, diseases and climate changes that attributed to adverse famines in this continent. As a result of this, the economic growth and development in Europe were greatly interrupted making it come to a halt. Reasonably, the famine such as the Great Famine of the year 1315 and 1317 had a devastating impact on the population. It caused starvation that led to the death of few people. Additionally, the plague such as the Black Death killed several victims in one area within a matter of hours and days which further reduced the population in parts of the Europe. Following the death cases caused by the said pandemic, the economic prosperity of this content was halted as most of the agricultural fields were abandoned, workplaces remained idle, and the international trade was postponed. On a similar note, depopulation negatively affected the agricultural sector in the sense that it led to the reduction of the human labor. In this century, France and England experienced series of peasant risings and revolts that further impacted their economic strength.


During the century between 8th and 12th, there was a major technological advancement in the long-distance navigation in Europe. Notably, the Crusaders invasions and Viking raids played a role in the modification of technical instrument to assist in the overseas travel. In an effort to counter the mentioned raiders, people came up with improvements in ships; the longship and astrolabe were constructed to aid in the long-distance travel. Consequent to the improvement of in the long-distance travels, it increased the trade across the continental Europe. Notably, from the 11th to 13th-century small scale producers of crafts consistently met in town to carry out a trade. Over time, the trade in crafts had increased in France, Flanders, England, German and northern Italy. Additionally, the establishment of the Hanseatic League also played an important role in facilitating trade in the discussed continent. It, therefore, attributed to an increase in trade among cities increasing the economy of the Hanseatic towns and by the 14 century, the Hanseatic League had a near monopoly of trade, especially in Scandinavia and Novgorod.

Early modern Europe in the 15th and 19th Century


In the century between 15th and 18th, France as a nation within continental Europe had increased its agricultural production leading to the produce of a variety of food items. In the 15th century, new crops such as beans, corn, potatoes, bell peppers, and tomatoes were produced in this country. However, its production techniques did not improve; it used medieval traditions that produced low harvests. During this century, France was faced with a challenge of an increasing population; this reduced the amount of land for farming. Owing to this, its economy was affected as result of the decrease in the agricultural activity. In the same century, the high-temperature forge was introduced in the northeast part of France leading to mineral mining. Notably, the production of silk in Tours and Lyon coupled with wool production enabled this country to participate in the European market, thereby increasing the economy of France. Important to note is that Lyon was the center for banking and international trade markets. Through this city, France exported its goods and also received imports from European countries such as Italy, German and England. In the mid of the 16th century, France encountered numerous economic challenges; there was an increased in demand for consumer goods leading to inflation. For instance, grain was five times as expensive from 15th to 16th century. Despite this rising price of the consumer goods, the wage of employees remained stagnant leading to a reduction in the purchasing power and a decline in the manufacturing of such products.


The Britain Empire built its economy on an economic strategy of maximizing the trade inside Empire and weakening the competing empire. During the 17th and 18th century, British established numerous colonies such as the United States and many African nations. Through the mentioned colonies, it was able to have a direct control of sugar plantation islands such as the Bahamas, Leeward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago among others. It is important to point out that the colonization also enabled this nation to obtain cheap raw materials and slavery in the African countries. Consequent to this, Britain was able to expand its agricultural production and sold it products expensively to its captive markets. Through colonization, the discussed country was to register a steady and stable economic growth and development.

Industrial Revolution between 17th and 18th century


In the period between the 1750s and 1840s, the Industrial Revolution emerged in the Europe that led to the establishment of many factories in the discussed continent, more so in England and Scotland. However, France, United States, and German experienced their industrial revolution in the 19th century. To begin with, the industrial revolution in Britain was a period depicted by the economic transformation that took place between the 1750s and 1830. During the said period, this nation was characterized by the rapid growth of the new system of factories, coal mining, railroads and business enterprises that utilized the new technologies. A point to note is that the mentioned new system of operation was first practiced in the manufacturing of textiles then later spread to other sectors and by the mid-19th century; this technology had completely transformed and elevated the British economy and set up a sustained growth. Notably, from Britain, the technology spread to parts of America and Europe, and it plays a significant role in modernizing the world economy

The industrial revolution played a key role in building larger, efficient and effective stream engines, thereby reducing the cost of energy. The technology also assisted the entrepreneurs to utilize the stationary engines in revolving the machines in a factory. Conversely, the mobile engines were put into ships and locomotive. Additionally, there was an increase in the use of the water power; by 1830 water mills and stream mills were equally approximated to be 165,000 horsepower each. Importantly, by the year 1879, the discussed country had obtained about 2.1 million horsepower from the stream engine and approximately 230,000 from the water mills. Consequent to the adoption of the industrial revolution in Britain, the economic growth rate of the British GDP was at 1.5% per year in the years between 1770 and 1815. As a result of this technique, in the following period between 1815 and 1831, the rate of GDP doubled itself to 3%.


Prevalently, Belgium was the second nation after the Britain in which the mentioned revolution took place. Initially, this country was largely dominated by cultural and traditional practices, and it was not expected the nation to easily and quickly adopt the Industrial Revolution. A point to note is that this technology took place in Wallonia, commencing in the mid of the 1820s. A myriad number of entrepreneurs were attracted by the availability of the cheap coal in Belgium. In an effort to utilize the technology in the extraction of coal, coke blast furnaces, puddling and rolling mills were constructed in the coal mining areas. Notably, by 1830 when the iron had become important in Europe, Belgium coal industry had been fully established, and it played a significant role in the mining of coal. The extracted coal was sold to local mills, railways and Prussia and France. Consequent to the industrial revolution, there was significant economic growth and development in the GDP of Belgium, making it one of the nations in Europe to have a sustainable economy in the 18th century. Importantly, Belgium set the pace for the industrial revolution for all continental Europe. However, Netherlands was left behind as a result of its reluctant in the embracement of this technology.

World War II

World War II significantly impacted the economy of Europe. During the period of war, there was destructions of properties and infrastructure, deaths of the human labor, a halt to the international trade in the countries affected and a stoppage to the functioning of the major industries. A huge amount of money was used in the purchase of the war weapons. Consequently, the economy of nations such as German and France that heavily participated in this war were affected. However, despite the participation in the discussed war, the economy of the United States was not affected; instead, it experienced a rise in the economic growth and development. After this war, the European nations embark on the intensive rehabilitation of its economy. America, for instance, developed new technologies such as Teflon and nylon that played a significant role in boosting its economy. It also engaged in the automotive industry this made U.S a major exporter of new cars. Notably, after the discussed, there was a demand for the new cars and the United States was able to supply the needed vehicles. The U.S, therefore, became a major commercial entrepreneur; this greatly boosted its economy. A point to note is that the preceding year after this war, America provided a useful blueprint on how Europe could effectively use the newly available workforce. America used its technological experience and the business innovations to assist other European nations such as France to support them to recovery from the negative impact of the World War II. Surprisingly, the European GDP had tripled in a period between the end of the war and the year 2000.

Introduction of Euro Currency

In the late 19th century, some of the countries that were members of the European Union such as France, Finland, German, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Netherland, Portugal, Luxembourg and Australia agreed to the idea of the principle of the European Monetary Union. On January 1, 2001, they adopted the Euro as their single currency. The primary reason behind the idea of a unified currency was to assist the outlined nations to exterminate exchange rate between the European countries as this would promote the international trade by minimizing the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. Another reason is that the single currency would enable these nations to compare the prices of goods and services across European countries. Consequent to this, firms have been able to source for cheap raw material and enabling consumers to import goods and services at fair prices in different nations in Europe; thereby promoting the globe trade. In this respect, the introduction of the Euro played a significant role in increasing the GDP of the continental Europe.


From the discussion, it is clear that Europe has had a growing economy throughout the 9th century to the late 19th century. However, factors such as the famines, plagues, World Wars interfered with its growing economy. The introduction of the summer irrigation and iron smelting in the 9th century became a starting point for steering of the Europe economic growth and development. Additionally, the innovation of the longships coupled with the establishment of the Hanseatic League in the century between the 8th and 13th boosted the trade within the Europe nations. In the century between 15th and 19th, France experienced a rise in population which interfered with its agricultural productivity. Despite this challenge, the country engages in mining extraction and silk production to boost its economy. British on the other hand, used colonization in boosting its economy. A further introduction of Euro currency becomes a cornerstone in strengthening the GDP of the continental Europe.

Works Cited

Black, Joseph, et al., eds. British Literature: A Historical Overview. Vol. 1. Broadview Press, 2010.

Brand, Hanno, and Leos Müller, eds. The dynamics of economic culture in the North Sea and Baltic Region: in the late Middle Ages and early modern period. Uitgeverij Verloren, 2007.

Clark, James G. The Benedictines in the Middle Ages. Boydell, 2014.

Duiker, William J., and Jackson J. Spielvogel. World History, Volume II: Since 1500. Cengage learning, 2012.

Eichengreen, Barry. The European economy since 1945: coordinated capitalism and beyond. Princeton University Press, 2008.

Postan, Michael Moïssey. Essays on medieval agriculture and general problems of the medieval economy. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Tumpel-Gugerell, Gertrude, and Peter Mooslechner, eds. Economic convergence and divergence in Europe: growth and regional development in an enlarged European Union. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2003.

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