Economic History of Europe in Modern Times

By Melvin M. Knight; Harry Elmer Barnes et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
OTHER WESTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

SIMILARITIES AND CONTRASTS

THE distinction between western and central Europe is not particularly useful or suggestive for the purposes of economic history, especially since the World War has split Austria- Hungary into fragments. It seems more logical to call the entire territory between the Adriatic and Baltic Seas " western Europe." Even an arbitrary line drawn northeastward from Fiume and gradually curving northward and northwestward to follow the boundary between East Prussia and Lithuania would have to be extremely crooked to serve at all as a boundary between eastern and western Europe. The territory east of such a line presents great similarities as to economic life, but it comprises two fairly distinct parts: First, southeastern Europe includes the Balkan Peninsula and certain adjacent lands whose life is similar. The main historical facts which distinguish it are the long Turkish occupation, the rise of Austria and Hungary at the expense of the Ottomans, and finally the appearance of independent and race- conscious national groups. Second, the outstanding thing about the remainder of "eastern Europe" is the administrative and economic unity, the rise, degree, nature and consequences of which is the subject-matter of Russian history. We may set aside both divisions of eastern Europe for separate treatment.

Because of the rough unity of western European civilization, most of the matters to be treated in the present chapter are fairly familiar, or at least we can stand on familiar ground to view them, because they lie so little beyond. Both Belgium and the Netherlands have important colonies and considerable ocean-borne trade. Their industrial systems are not so radically different from those already examined as to exclude

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