The Development of the French Economy, 1750–1914 by Colin Heywood

By Colin Heywood

Examines the best way monetary historians have approached units of difficulties. should still the French financial system in 18th and nineteenth centuries be thought of "retarded", or an early eu improvement good fortune, and, should still fiscal functionality be defined by means of fabric stipulations, or in social terms.

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8) An agricultural system that was still 'stagnant, backward and primitive' in the mid-nineteenth 45 century is an obvious candidate for explaining the alleged 'retardation' in French economic development. Paul Hohenberg, for example, has been influential in arguing that rural France was 'the seat of mechanisms working to offset, limit and tame the impulses for change that accompanied European modernization in the nineteenth century' [52]. Most of the blame for resistance to change in the countryside is laid at the door of the small peasant farmers, so characteristic of the tenurial system in France.

First, there was the diffusion of new techniques for cultivating the soil: the advanced crop rotations and heavier stocking of animals that permitted an intensification of mixed husbandry, and later, after about 1840, chemical fertilisers and farm machinery. Second, there were organizational changes, notably enclosures and the consolidation of holdings. So gradual was this revolution in France that historians have had great difficuly in pinning down its progress. Yet the chronology of change is of critical importance in the debates surrounding French agriculture.

On the other hand, the productivity of labour in certain 'new' industries - rubber, electricity and petroleum was higher in France, indicating some success in responding to the challenge of large-scale production. No less importantly, the same pattern of superior French labour productivity also emerges in several of the smaller-scale industries, notably construction, leather articles, clothing and hosiery. The authors go on to note that 31 'about 75 per cent of the French industrial labour force found work in industries where value added per employee was either equal to or above levels obtained in comparable British industries'.

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