This introductory chapter establishes the key questions in English agricultural history about the timing of the agricultural revolution and its relationship with the associated industrial and demographic revolutions. It also reviews the major literature on the subject from the contemporary observers of agricultural change, like Arthur Young, to the 19th-century attempts to measure agricultural output. Traditionally the relationships between agriculture, industry, and population change have been studied at aggregate levels, based on assumptions and employing plausible but nonetheless estimates of the levels of output and production. The new approach in this book suggests that the key might lie in a study of the farm records and the farmers themselves, which will allow some real measures rather than plausible estimates to emerge.
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