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BY the middle of the eighteenth century England had ceased to be the backward country she still had been in the late sixteenth century.

She had developed a foreign trade commensurate with that of any country in the world; London, still growing, had become one of the first, if not the first city in the world, and the leading financial and banking centre; two prospective rivals, Holland and France, had been outstripped.

A new Colonial Empire had been built up in North America and the West Indies, standing in the same relation to England as that in which she herself had stood towards civilized Europe not two centuries before.

Moreover, though till lately this has been little realized, England had already undergone considerable industrial development, based on the exploitation of her coal.

Compared with later changes these may seem so small as to be insignificant; in reality they are not, for they help to explain why the Industrial Revolution took place first in England.

The movement which gained irresistible momentum in the late eighteenth century was set going at least as early as the closing years of the sixteenth.

NextDegree In The National Debt.

The Growth of London

Part and parcel with the economic developments and policies we have described was the phenomenal growth of London in size and influence. In 1500, though by far the largest city, it probably had little more than 50,000 inhabitants; a century later it probably had five times as many, and it still was growing. Conditions of public health in cities had improved little, if at all, so that this enormous growth must have been by immigration from the provinces; and in the country at large population was increasing but slowly.

The growth in size was matched by a growing predominance in economic affairs.... see: The Growth of London

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