How did Europe become the richest part of the world?
In a time of great powers and empires, just one region of the world experienced extraordinary economic growth. How?
How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin? Learned tomes by historians, economists, political scientists and other scholars fill many bookshelves with explanations of how and why the process of modern economic growth or ‘the Great Enrichment’ exploded in western Europe in the 18th century.
In early modern Europe political and religious fragmentation did not mean small audiences for intellectual innovators.
Europe offered a more or less integrated market for ideas, a continent-wide network of learned men and women, in which new ideas were distributed and circulated.
In early modern Europe, national boundaries mattered little in the thin but lively and mobile community of intellectuals in Europe.
Books written in one part of Europe found their way to other parts.
Fifty years after the publication of William Harvey’s text on the circulation of blood De Motu Cordis, the English doctor and intellectual Thomas Browne reflected on Harvey’s discovery that ‘at the first trump of the circulation all the schools of Europe murmured and condemned it by a general vote but at length [it was] accepted and confirmed by illustrious physicians.
Originally published at Cogly.