1740 - 1760
The industrial revolution
The industrial revolution started in the United Kingdom. It was preceded by an agricultural revolution in the early 18th century (which contributed to raising yields and to freeing the necessary workforce for industry), and a protoindustrialization phase (when agrarian families used their free time to produce craft items for the urban merchants who would sell them on distant markets). The industrial revolution was characterised by successive innovations, such as the first use of coal in metallurgy (1709), the first steam engine (T. Newcomen, 1710 - 1712) and its improvements (James Watt, 1769), the first mechanical weaving loom (1764). These innovations gradually spread across Western Europe during the 19th century and resulted in productivity gains, thus bringing these countries into an era of faster - albeit more unstable and resourcehungry - growth.