Viewing the evolution of Europe’s rural economy through the lens of the Enlightenment enables researchers to extend the range of possible explanations for agricultural growth in the modern era. By the 1840s spill-overs from the realms of science and technology were combining with the supply of useful knowledge to create conditions favourable to full-scale agricultural revolution. The stimulus of demographic expansion and market integration aided and abetted this process. The Enlightenment had also incited governments to intervene in the lives and activities of country dwellers to a degree unprecedented. It can be questioned however, whether institutional reforms such as political revolution or the legal emancipation of the servile peasantry played as big a role in the transition towards a modernized agricultural environment as is sometimes suggested.
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