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Changes in the Outlook of European People After 1500 experienced numerous political, economic, and social changes. The emergence of the current Europe from 1500 -1648 brought a lot of changes such as political liberalization and the industrial revolution. Furthermore, Europe observed significant law reforms during this period. By the year 1500, most Europe areas were experiencing population growth. Commerce began to strengthen within Europe and the discoveries of new lands integrated it into a world economic system. Through the various phases of history, the European people experienced changes in their work, family, and the political arena.
In his book, Perry et al. show that the European people had discoveries of new lands, which were rich in various commodities. These commodities were exported to Europe, and this enhanced the material life of its people. The people also discovered new and better ways of organizing production, and this enhanced both trade and production of goods where entrepreneurs manipulated a lot of money. It was during the 16th century that western capitalism entered the maturity stage, and capital was the main item in political life, economic organization, and international relations. The expansion of economy during this time was as a result of great changes that were on the pipeline before 1500 and was able to achieve a technological advantage over other civilized nations.
People began to change their actions and the way they viewed themselves and the world due to the emergence of new values, which were associated with the early reformation. Social changes were also prevalent on the European people. With the small population, foodstuff became cheaper, and people were able to use their earnings to get balanced diets, which included beverages and meat. The people who lived in the rural areas were able to purchase processed products from the cities, hence promoting the economy of the urban areas. Cities began to grow slowly, and the number of city dwellers increased and by 1600, 7.6 % of the European population lived in urban centres. Also, bigger cities started coming up and were mainly used as administrative or capital centres. The increasing population in the urban areas during the late 16th century led to what was traditionally called ‘ownership of an estate.’ The estate had two parts, one for the landlord’s demesne and the peasants’ farms. The peasants worked for little wages compared to other labourers in the urban areas.
The rise of Capitalism saw Europe experience financial problems and occasionally becoming bankrupt. This situation exposed the poor people in the society. In the 16th century, there was a great inflation that was highly felt through monetary degradation. This, however, did not last long as new precious metals were ejected to the market. The inflation fuelled the economy and pressurized people who wanted to maintain their initial living standards to take an active economic position. Due to the low-interest rates, the entrepreneurs took the advantage to make big profits.
In regard to politics, the centralized states demanded new measures of cultural conventionality for their citizens. Jews were expelled from many states, and many of them did not bear with religious rebels. A princely court was formed by the state, and it became the main buyer of war weapons. The prince had authority in appointing various individual and making pension grants. All these were made in an attempt to maintain political power at both the state and international levels.
The major changes that were observed socially were the status of women and marriage age. In the previous centuries, women were considered domestic workers with little economic power. On the other hand, men were seen as the head of the family, husband, or father and were the main beneficiaries of their labour. Women got marriage at a tender age and were married off to mature men. This changed in the 16th century, and people started getting church weddings and both bride and groom were of almost same mature age. This ensured that the couple would become close friends and a spouse, which was not easily achieved when the couple had a big gap in their age differences. In the 19th century. The European people experienced another massive change in their social lives. They felt that the aspects of their day-to-day lives were changing, and the kind of jobs they did were being redefined.
People who were paid wages experienced a decline in the autonomy of their jobs and people worked under instructions from others. Rules were set up in textile factories, and workers were urged to report to work on time, and to remain in their workstation as a long as they are still at work. Enforcement of such rules was carried out by foremen who worked as mediators between the workers and the factory owners. As the work became fast, working hours were extended, and many workers who were mainly women and children suffered because they had to walk for long distances to the factories and the workstations were risky with machines posing a danger or getting hurt.
During this period, the middle-class people who were mostly factory owners and professionals came up with work ethic, which considered work as a fundamental human good such that a person who works would automatically prosper and vice versa. Most schools began to teach about the need to work and condemned laziness. These shifts in the context of work had an essential consequence on leisure, and many middle-class people became uncomfortable when out of the job. As a result, they tried to redefine their tastes for leisure to achieve personal empowerment and to strengthen their family bonds.
Families began to spend their free time reading and girls were advised to learn how to play piano since music played a major role in reuniting families. Through the piano lessons, many women became musicians, and cultural events became common under the sponsorship of the newly wealthy people. These middle-class people also participated in night courses and public lectures that were seen to bring in new skills in management and applied sciences. Pressures from middle-class people changed the leisure habits in the urban areas. Workers had little time and resources to allow them to play although most of them could opt to have free time than work in the factories. Some popular leisure activities such as gambling and animal fighting were done away with in an attempt to bring order in the urban areas. Throughout this period, leisure activities were redefined, and people started to participate in more respectable pastime activities where professionals were hired to entertain them and make them feel relaxed.
Family life changed as work moved from a home setting to an industrial setting where the family was no longer a production unit. Gender roles began to be redefined, and the men became the breadwinners, and the older children helped them in their businesses. Most working class families had the women work from as early as their teenage years until several years into their marriage. Many women in the city did domestic jobs in middle-class homes. With the effects on the daily life patterns of people, economic changes in Europe started to shift its social structure and antagonism among the social classes in the urban areas begun to develop. Many of the middle-class people criticized how new factory owners worked for profit. Casual workers began to undermine one another based on their level of literacy and traditional prestige. Those who earned good wages started living a lifestyle that reflected those of the middle-class people by purchasing musical instruments and enrolling in academic institutions. This social difference led the middle-class people to relocate to more spacious places away from slums and tougher government laws enacted to enable the physically fit people to work and stop begging. The middle-class people also participated in political protests to fight for new rights against monopoly.
Enhancement of technology in the 19th century was accelerated by the availability of more skilled workforce. During this period, more people accessed education, and the number of those enrolling in higher education had significantly increased. Women were at this time able to access the job opportunities that were initially seen to be men-oriented. Class difference declined greatly, and people were able to share leisure activities. The occurrence of First World War, which saw the death of more than five hundred thousand men greatly impacted its population, which subsequently affected the workforce. After the war and the end of Influenza epidemic, there was a shortage of men in all European countries. During the war, women were recruited to work in the civilian workforce so as to encourage them to feel liberated. The division of Europe into cultural, ethnic, and linguistic states led to the dissatisfaction of people who were separated from the others. Most of them felt that they became the minorities, and this was the beginning of instability that existed after the First World War.
According to Campbell, the Second World War had significant economic impacts to Europe, and many global organizations and institutions worked together to ensure that they replace the old diplomacy with multilateral institutions. After this war, many European people had the urge to return to normalcy where law and order would be restored. They thought of returning prisoners to their families and make soldiers mobile. However, many people were eager to achieve change where a new and just society would be brought to life in areas where people had pledged to work towards attaining peace. The collaboration of U.S among other continents to save the economy of Europe made a great impact that brought it to prosperity.
In conclusion, the journey of the European people through different historical periods is remarkable. The people have moved from all economic upheavals during 1500 to the 20th century. Women have transformed from casual labours to political office bearers and child labour abolished. Only children who were considered old enough helped their fathers in their workplaces. History has shown the economic ups and downs that Europe faced and the subsequent impacts its people experienced regarding changes in their lifestyles.
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