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Two factors which affected the Stuart economy of 1600-1660

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Two factors which affected the Stuart economy of 1600-1660 The Stuart economy is always difficult to analyse. Unfortunately due to incomplete records we only have a rough idea of the economic growth that England underwent during this era. For example we do not have fully accurate records that state the exact population size at the time. We also therefore do not have accurate records on the economy either but from parish records and events during this period it is still possible to make informed conclusions on what the economy was like, and the factors that stimulated it. The first thing that is important to study when discussing the economy is the population size. According to records found in parishes at the time population was generally on the increase and rose from 4 to 5 million between 1600 and 1660. However although the population did rise considerably it was certainly not a steady increase and went through phases of decline as well as increase. Surprisingly, according to information now available, some year's burial rates were actually higher than baptism rates, suggesting a population decline. However due to the fact that these records are sometimes incomplete it is not possible to give completely accurate figures about the changes in population during this era. ...read more.


Some historians also use examples such as the adoption of tobacco crops in England as a key piece of evidence for how adventuress and innovative farmers could be once convinced of the potential of the new farming enterprise. Despite the evidence presented for innovation and experimentation there is strong evidence that suggests that farmers struggled to keep up with demand. Sources found for some areas of England suggest that there were huge rises in prices during this period due to inflation. This evidence is known as the Phelps Brown price index. Although this is one of the most commonly used sources, due to lack of information it only covers certain areas of England, mainly the south meaning that it is hard to generalise these price rises across England however it is the best information available. This rise in prices is evidence suggesting that the farmers of the Stuart economy had great difficulty despite all their innovation and experimentation to keep up with demand. However some historians still disagree. So the key question still unanswered is whether the farmers were able to keep up with constantly growing demand. Obviously it is highlighted by bad harvests how susceptible the agrarian economy was to very cold long winters and the obvious problems this could create. ...read more.


As London grew in population the North East was able to produce more and more coal to meet demands, although limitations in technology prevented mining below the surface. However transporting vast quantities of coal is thought by many historians to have been a problem. Roads in this period were thought to be in quite a bad state, and therefore much of the coal mined was transported by sea. This transportation via sea is important. In order to transport such great amounts of coal England you would need a merchant fleet and Royal Navy to provide protection. Despite these measures the fleets that travelled between the North-East and London still suffered attacks during the wars England had with the Dutch. This is evident when we look at the prices of coal and see that prices doubled during this period suggesting heavy losses from attack. In conclusion it is probably right to suggest that industry looked for short-term solutions to meet the demands it faced, although no new techniques or technological advances are evident, this period did see the development of external trade, a key feature of the Stuart economy with the development of overseas colonies. However it can be argued that changes in agriculture and innovation were more significant, however it is still somewhat important to understand that the Stuart economy did not just rely on agriculture alone. ?? ?? ?? ?? James Wilhelm 12DH 04/05/2007 ...read more.

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