Reflections on the Agricultural Revolution

This past Thursday, I completed my umpteenth lecture on Peasant Life in early modern Europe. Because of changes in Miami University’s time schedule, my lecture period has moved from 70 minutes to 80 minutes. Somehow, despite more time, I felt this past class that I actually imparted less information than I used to.

How could that be? Well, there were questions and I did try to engage to students. But that is a constant ginger element in any lecture.

I did try to convey the diversity of peasant experience in a different way, comparing Ostfriesland to Butler county. Imagine, a place equivalent in size to Butler county with two completely different inheritance regime: partible and impartible. And in some of the impartible villages, youngest rather than oldest sons inherited. Talking that through raised lots of questions (a good thing) but it meant that I had less time to fully explain the three main elements of the Agricultural Revolution. Thankfully I had my two slide showing changes in field system, but I could really use a quick display of new tools and some prize livestock. Most especially, I need to find the charts that I used in the pre-PowerPoint days that displayed the demographic explosion subsequent to the AR. I really need these to set up the population explosion and availability of labor that set up the Industrial Revolution.

I also should have spent some time enticing them with my Pinterest boards.

Maybe at some point in my remaining 4 years I’ll get it right!


About George Vascik, Historian

A 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan, I have taught history at Miami University since 1992. I maintain blogs on teaching Western Civilization and on Great War. My research focuses on anti-Semitism and rural politics in northwest Germany. I am completing a monograph for Bloomsbury Press, Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics. You can follow my project at Along with Mark Sadler, I have published a book of primary documents on the Stab-in-the-Back Myth (Dolchstoßlegende). I also invite you to visit my profession web page at
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