During the 16th century, Europe experienced radical economic, social, and political changes. These changes were associated with the Industrial Revolution, which took place between 1500 and 1800. Based on the changes that took place in Europe during the 16th century, it is safe to state that, Europe in the 16th century was expansive.
In the previous centuries, many of the European countries relied on agriculture for economic development. Many people lived in small villages, where they ploughed their land using ancient farming tools, mainly for subsistence purposes. However, in the 16th century, focus shifted from subsistence farming to commercial farming (Lambert, n.d). This was made possible through the introduction of better farming equipment, thanks to the industrial revolution. Commercialization of agriculture led to development of trade and industries.
According to Lambert (n.d), many industries in Europe rose during the 16th century. For instance, mining of coal started in the early 16th century. This led to opening of coal mining factories across different parts of Europe where coal was available. Industries, which has already started to develop before the 16th century experienced rapid growth during the 16th century. Such industries included the iron, lead, and tin industries. Consequently, development of industries and flourishing of agriculture led to development of many urban centers, which were used by Europeans for trading activities. Farmers would transport their produce to urban areas to trade them with manufactured commodities. These trading activities enabled Europe to grow richer and richer during the 16th century (Lambert, n.d).
Early in the 14th century, Europe had experienced population decline due to a plague that swept across the continent (Lambert, n.d). However, in the 16th century, the population of Europe rose very steadily. By 1525, the population of Europe rose to three million, from 2.5 million in 1475. By the end of the 16th century, the population of Europe stood at four million. Increase in population was due to abundance in food commodities, and improved standards of living (Lambert, n.d).
Technological innovations were also experienced during the 16th century. One of the technological innovations that took place in the 16th century in Europe was the invention of the printing press. This resulted into printing of the Bible in the vernacular languages. Printing of the Bible led to the reformation of the church. The church had acted as the basic cultural pillar in Europe for many centuries. However, printing of the Bible saw the church experience some division. “The cultural consensus of Europe based on universal participation in the Body of Christ was broken” (The sixteenth Century, 2000). Protestant movements were formed, which introduced different methods of worshiping, and new cultural norms.
During the 16th century, Europe also experienced numerous social changes. In the beginning of the century, life was good, even the poor managed to afford meat in their meals. However, in the mid-1500s, life started to change as the population grew more and more, and the cost of living started to go high. The poor were the most affected by the increased cost of living because real earnings fell in huge margins. Commercialization of agriculture saw many peasants lose their land to the bourgeoisies. This led to rise of homeless people. Since the homeless did not have any means of livelihood, vagrancy was on the rise, especially in urban areas, as the homeless looked for means of earning income. Contrary to this, changing economic conditions led to rise of the middle class and the upper class. These classes of people lived in the urban areas and their main economic activity was trade. They developed new ways of spending leisure time: drinking, gaming, and gambling in taverns (Lambert, n.d).
Politically, Europe experienced major dynastic struggles during the mid-1500s. Many of the European nations were “born” during this period. Many of these nations were subjected to harsh monarchs (The sixteenth Century, 2000). Those who were in power divided the territories amongst themselves and their family members. For instance, King Charles V divided his empire among his sons and brothers (The sixteenth Century, 2000). Actions of King Charles V led to birth of Spain, Netherlands, and Austria/Hungary. The bourgeoisies also started becoming interested in politics. Bourgeoisies actively participated in politics as they struggled to protect their land and trade interests (The sixteenth Century, 2000).
The numerous changes that took place in Europe during the 16th century provide evidence that, indeed, Europe was expansive during the 16th century. The changes that took place in Europe during the 16th century resulted into numerous