Europe’s agricultural system is the product of a long evolution. This book concentrates on the phase beginning in the 1750s with the return to a profile of sustained population growth across much of the Continent. In this new context the modernization of agricultural practices was facilitated by a number of factors: the supply of agricultural knowledge emanating from the Enlightenment; the diffusion of skills; innovations in the technology of land-use and crop and animal husbandry; and the interventionism of States in the rural economy. Sources are scattered and unreliable requiring an approach which lays the emphasis on breadth of coverage rather than depth. Detailed analysis is offered in cases studies of Denmark-Norway and Scotland. Macro-comparisons help us to understand the trajectory of European agriculture, particularly the debates concerning the ‘divergence’ between East and West, and a ‘Little Divergence’ as countries situated on the north-western periphery pulled away from the rest.
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