Revolution refers to fundamental changes that occur within a short period of time or rapidly when the citizens decide to revolt against the existing governmental authorities or economic, civil or religious conditions. The period from the 15th to 18th centuries witnessed the occurrence of several revolutions in the different parts of the world. These revolutions were either economic, political or religious in nature. While France basically experienced both economic and political revolution, England had civil, political and economic revolutions, and Netherlands had economic revolutions. The United States of America had economic, civil and political revolutions during this period. This paper will discuss how and why revolutions took place in France, Netherlands, England and the United States of America between the 15th and 18th centuries.
The revolutions witnessed in Netherlands, Britain France and the United States of America occurred because of several reasons. The various political philosophies in the early ages and the renaissance period opened the eyes of the citizens by providing them with the alternative forms of governments and economic structures. Besides, the renaissance period was characterized by the spread of knowledge in various field and the wave of democracy was all over during this period. Between 1400 and 1800, the issues of individual human rights, social contract and the nation state dominated over monarchy which was dominant previously in the middle Ages. The desired changes in the perception of political organization could be seen in the reforms that were taking place in the various aspects of the lives of the Europeans for instance in transportation, agriculture, science, religion, production and economics. A new world had emerged by the 1800 with the weakening of the Catholic Church in most of the European countries including Netherlands, France and England. The Protestants in these countries redefined the nature of an individuals relationship with God. The economic revolutions took place because of the liberal political conditions that were now being achieved. Shifts were being witnessed in the economic set up from the usual feudal systems to the rise of the bourgeoisie which majorly the middle class. The bourgeoisie loudly championed for political reforms. The medieval period accompanied by scientific discoveries like those of Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler. The scientific ideas brought change to the world view as a universe which is purely governed by God's will to the acknowledgment of a mechanical universe.
The Kings in England from far back in the 13th century did not enjoy much freedom. They already had some restrictions put in place for them. The Kings power were limited in the Magna Carta and by the parliament which had both House of Lords and House of Commons. The parliament had become a permanent government institution by the 14th Century placing checks on the Kings power. However, this did not stop the greed of the Kings for absolute power leading to the two revolutions in the 177th century when the parliament revolted against the Kings attempts to become the absolute ruler. The two revolutions took place between 1640-1649 and 1688-1689 and they are commonly referred to as the English Revolution.
The first revolution was a prolonged war between the King and the aristocracy, and on the other hand there was war between the middle class members of the society and the parliament. The revolutionaries won the struggle and the King was executed making England a republic. However, by 1600, the English wanted to go back to monarchy making James II the king in 1685. King James II was out to be an absolute ruler and this was greatly opposed by the Anglican Church. At first, he enjoyed the support of the aristocracy but eventually, the aristocracy too turned against the king. The aristocracy did not wish to experience another civil hope and was hoping for a constitutional monarchy.
The Anglican Church together with several popular noble men formed a conspiracy against the King. The parliament as a part of this plot invited the Kings Son in law, Dutch Prince William together with his wife, Mary, to be the King and Queen of England. They agreed to this plot and they were instituted the new monarch by the parliamentary law. Afterward, England did not undergo another political revolution but was now focused towards the reforms that would achieve democracy because the dominant Aristocracy denied most of the people the chance to vote.
The revolution in the 1770s in the United States of America was geared towards the attainment of independence. The first phase in the fight for independence in America was as a result of the Atlantic revolutions and it resulted to the independence of most of the North and South American counties. The Atlantic revolutions were chains of interconnected revolutionary events that shook the existing concepts of order after the foundation on both sides of the Atlantic were shaken by the mutual transatlantic influence. This new era of revolutions increased tension between the European metro poles and the American periphery. Through several reforms, London and Madrid tightened their political rule over their American colonies in order to profit more from them. However, the settlers in the colonies did not support these reforms as they felt that they were not well handled by their home governments. Eventually, they resisted to attain a commensurate extent of participation in the political affairs of their home countries but slowly, the resistance radicalized and developed to independence struggles. France relinquished its colonies in North America and India after being defeated in the seven-year war. This war cost Britain finances sand the Napoleonic Wars also fuelled the decolonisation struggles in South America. British was forced to grant the colonies independence on 4th July 1776 and this laid the foundation of the United States of America. The decolonization the colonies under Spanish between 1808 and 1826 was more violent but under the strong leadership of individuals like Simon Bolivar, Bernardo OHiggins and Jose de San Martin, the republican movements managed to attain independence from Spain in 1826.
These countries also underwent an economic revolution from the feudal system where there were slaves and the master to the class society which was characterized by the first, middle and low class. The first class compressed on the rulers, second r middle class were the workers and finally the low class were the poor. The emergence of the middle class in these countries was the main reason for the occurrence of the various revolutions which took place, the idle class opposed the oppression that they underwent on the hands of their various governments (Fernand, 2000). Besides, they felt that they were entitled to better living conditions and better pay because they worked hard the most and paid the taxes which were response for the running other ay day activities of the countries. They called for transparency and accountability they were also against the luxurious lifestyles of the leaders more so during the traditional monarchs.
After struggling to attain her independence for over eighty years, Netherlands embarked on economic development. The biggest industries by the time Netherlands achieved err independence included textile, breweries, salt refining, timber and brick woods, ship building, fishing nets, and barrels and sail clothes. The struggle against the Spanish resulted to the coming of several refugees to the newly formed country of Netherlands from the old cities of Flanders and Brabant. The refugees brought with them skilled labour, capital and international contacts. Dutch started trading with Asia in the 1590s and within thirty years, they surpassed the Portuguese and became the dominant traders with Asia. The cost of maintaining its independence was growing considering its military expansion. This resulted to the falter of its economic expansion and in the 17th century, the British and French expanded more that Netherlands. The country could no longer attract immigrants leading to population decrees and the stagnation of the industrial economy, fisheries, textile and foreign trade. Only agriculture was still doing well. To retain its lost glory, Netherlands embarked on economic revolution by focussing on agricultural production and acquiring colonies.
France underwent a thorough political revolution which was its only way of obtaining political change. Unlike the existing structures that limited the Kings power in England, France had absolutely no limits and the King exercised absolute power over the masses. After the centuries of oppression and absolute power over the masses in France, the French citizens were so tired of monarch that they became determined to get rid of the Kingship position. The ascension of Kin Louis XVI to power in 1774 resulted to economic crises and massive food shortage which culminated into a French Revolution. With the revolutionary spirit, the Legislative assembly voted to do away with the monarchy in order to establish a republic. This came a year after the approval of a new constitution by King Louis XVI. King Louis and the Queen were imprisoned in August 1792 and the monarchy abolished.
The 17th century in Britain was characterised by the agrarian revolution. The agrarian revolution referred to the rapid changes in the field of agriculture and it was characterised by new practices such as and consolidation whereby agriculture was now to be practised on large tracts of land, the poor sold their land to the rich and moved to the towns while some migrated to other parts of Europe and America. Land enclosure system replaced the open field system of agriculture which was previously practiced. Seed broadcasting was also discouraged and crop rotation introduced. The agrarian revolution also involved the use of machines rather than using human labour in the farm. This was enabled by the several inventions for instance Jethro Toll invented the seed drill. There was use of fertilizer and large scale farming which produced a high yield replaced small scale farming.
This revolution resulted to population increase, increased food production, improved living standards of the English. The revolution also brought plantation farming in place of the small scale farming (Overton, 2011). Scientific innovations in the agricultural Feld were enhanced and the improvement of transport systems was also witnessed. In addition, the agrarian revolution laid foundation to the industrial revolution due the availability of the agricultural raw materials. Agrarian revolution in Britain also led to rural urban migration by the peasants who sold their land to the rich. They migrated to towns to look for jobs.
From Britain, the agrarian revolution spread to the Unfired Sae s of America before spreading to the others parts of the world. The immigrants to USA carried with them the skills needed to enhance the agricultural activities in the USA. These immigrants are the ones who greatly contributed to the agrarian revolution to the USA. They brought the agricultural knowledge, from Britain, new seed and technological advancements. This woke up the seeping America and was able to reform its agricultural sector. Like England, the agrarian revolution in the USA resulted to high population, increased food production and it raised the living standards of the citizens. Besides, the agrarian revolution also opened room for more scientific innovations for instance the invention of refrigeration and pasteurisation methods of food preservation (NWE, 2012). Socialisation as also an effect whey the citizens specialized in deferent activities, some were farmer...
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