The Formation of Capitalism in European History Essay

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The Formation of Capitalism in European History "Pure capitalism is characterized by private ownership of resources and by reliance on markets, in which buyers and sellers come together and determine what quantities of goods and resources are sold and at what price. Here no central authority oversees production and consumption. Rather, economic decisions are coordinated by the actions of large numbers of consumers and producers, each operating in his or her own self-interest. Because property is privately owned, it can be used in whatever manner its owner chooses (Ragan and Thomas, p. 46)." Europe had its capitalistic beginnings in the mid-seventeenth century. However, medieval Europe is characterized by the antithesis of this…show more content…
Some products were taken to the local market and exchanged. Exchange was usually compulsory, in that, one was obligated to supply products and services on terms dictated by custom and law. Interregional trade, however, was limited to the point that even a poor local harvest often "meant hunger, malnutrition, and greater vulnerability to disease, and crop failure meant starvation (Birdzell and Rosenberg, pp. 39-40)." The economic system of this era is termed feudalism. Feudalism is defined by conditioned holding of land by lords on some kind of service-tenure to the monarch. The lords were a noble class who supplied military service and council to the monarch. The lords' social status was determined by their land holdings. The lords' estates were farmed by compulsory labor, known as serfs. The lords maintained a great deal of control over the serfs. They dictated what, where and when to plant. They also operated as a judiciary force over the serfs (Hilton, pp. 34-36). Feudalism is, thus characterized by political decentralization. The monarchs, having delegated such a substantial amount of authority to the nobles, were left essentially without any real power. The social order, which regulated virtually all of society, dictated the need for a king to maintain public peace. Thus, the monarchs remained in power, but only figuratively (Pirenne, pp. 147-150). Obviously, feudalism and capitalism are
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