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The British agricultural revolution

Hoyle, R. (2024) The British agricultural revolution. In: Whayne, J. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Agricultural History. Oxford University Press, pp. 532-551. ISBN 9780190924164

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190924164.013.28


This chapter offers a new interpretation of the British agricultural revolution. It begins by reviewing the historiography of the late eighteenth-century agricultural revolution, showing how the idea had been largely abandoned by the 1980s but has since been revived. The background to it is quickly sketched in, including population growth, but also a move away from arable cultivation through enclosure. The impact of English population growth on Scotland and Ireland is considered. It is explained how contemporaries saw agrarian change in the late eighteenth century as evidence of failure, given that England moved from being an exporter to an importer of grain. War after 1793 encouraged a revival of arable agriculture and massive investment in agriculture including the enclosure of wastes; after 1815 there was a perception that a bubble had burst. The argument that an agricultural revolution took place in the depressed years after 1815 is quickly reviewed.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:115893
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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