This monograph makes a fresh contribution to a longstanding but far from exhausted debate concerning the transition to capitalism in Europe. The work investigates key aspects of this transformation: the changes on the land, the origins of the industrial revolution, the modern rise of population and the growth of markets. It does so from a new perspective, however, by focusing on an area of southern Europe, Catalonia. Catalonia's interest as an area for study lies in its precocity within a southern European context, as one of the few regions on the European periphery to industrialise in comparable ways and at the same time as areas of northern Europe. Population growth was similarly rapid. The study engages critically with several important debates in economic and social history, such as the transition to agrarian capitalism, whether or not sharecropping should be viewed as a backwards form of agricultural production, theories of proto-industrialisation and theories of population change. It also questions claims that the nuclear family of north-western Europe was a superior model for industralisation than the more extended family structures prevalent in southern Europe. Not only could the extended family be as dynamic as the nuclear family when required but, more importantly, attention needs to be paid to other institutions and factors that may have conditioned family forms and decision-making processes. The approach taken by this work is a micro-study of one community, Igualada, an important proto-industrial centre but also situated within the viticultural region. It grew rapidly over the eighteenth century from around 1,700 inhabitants in 1717 to 4,900 in 1787 and around 7,700 by 1830. Only at the micro-level is it feasible for an individual study to reconstruct networks of relationships and patterns of decision-making at the household level. At the core of the book, therefore, is a family reconstitution of 8,700 families, supplemented by a wide body of additional sources, such as landholding contracts, tax records, manorial surveys, inventories, marriage contracts and letters.
Dr Julie Marfany is a Lecturer at the University of Durham.
'... Marfany's book demonstrates that economic growth could indeed maintain a larger population, but with the penalty of lower standards of living ...' Sixteenth Century Journal 'Le développement économique de l’Europe et ses résultats furent pluriels. Ce livre offre une réflexion sur une zone du sud de l’Europe qui s’industrialise précocement et donne des clés pour comprendre les mécanismes qui ont permis un tel processus. Les chemins ne sont pas partout les mÃªmes, cette étude aide Ã en découvrir la diversité.' Annales de Demographie Historique ’... this is a thought-provoking book that expertly merges archival skills with knowledge of the debates on the early stages of industrialization. The book is also beautifully produced, and short enough not to deter the non-specialist reader. Author and publisher are to be congratulated.’ Agricultural History Review ’...this is an impressive book. Marfany, whose doctoral thesis on the demographic transition in Igualada was effectively the first application of the family reconstitution methods of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure to Catalonia, applies the same precision, de rigueur in this area, to the whole field of economic change here. In her thesis she reached path-breaking conclusions-some hinted at in this review-respecting Catalonia’s demographic transition; in this study she demonstrates the specificity of Catalonia’s transition to capitalism by a microscopic analysis of the behaviour of households and uses it to challenge the dominant, interpretative paradigms of European industrialization.’ Bulletin of Spanish Studies