During the era of the Industrial Revolution many significant changes occurred in the lives and labor of most European citizens. These changes affected every aspect of their lifestyle and cultures and there was little they could do to prevent it. European nations were looking for more ways to expand in size and wealth. In the search for these ambitions the idea of using machinery to efficiently mass produce manufactured goods arose. This innovation completely altered the lives of many hardworking individuals and revolutionized the world they lived in.
Laborers such as farmers, craftsmen, merchants and others lost their jobs due to new machinery, destroyed their families due to new difficult labor conditions and experienced corruption in their lifestyles and cultures because of the changes in social and economic standards.
Documents such as The Work Year in Seventeenth-Century Lille, Labor Protest: Luddite Attack on a Water-Powered Textile Mill in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Weaving: A Sixteenth-Century German Weaver and His Loom, and Weaving: An English Cotton Mill are all primary sources published in the historical era of the Industrial Revolution and will be thoroughly analyzed to aid in the understanding of every aspect of this revolution and its effects.
In the early seventeenth century, dating back before the Industrial Revolution came about, the life of the average worker was very simple and ordinary. In a common marriage family the male would typically work on a farm or if he was lucky he would be trained by a member of a guild to create crafts and tools. The women and children would accompany the male in the pursuit of higher profits. Working conditions were tolerable and job locations were usually situated close to the residences of the workers.
Life was hard, but it was acceptable for workers because they knew they were able to pace themselves around the difficult times of work and enjoy the competition of being the best craftsmen of all the guilds. Times do change, in the case of the Industrial Revolution workers were forced to confront negative changes in the workplace, including harsher working conditions and lower salaries. Since the mills and plants put many small farms and shops out of business workers were getting desperate in finding replacement jobs.
The mill owners knew how unimportant and easily exchangeable the individual workers were and they capitalized on the status quo in many different ways. A perfect example of the exploitation of workers is the painting, The Great Crane at Bruges. In Bayerisches Satsbibliothek’s image of The Great Crane at Bruges, there are four male workers, ages unknown, running in a large wheel that generates energy to operate a crane. This painting is used as a primary source to give others an image of how workers were forced into lives of risk and hardship and resulted in the same if not less salaries. Workers were also facing harsh threatening treatments by their bosses.
Mill owners knew that even a little kid could operate a machine, so they decided to change the relationship between employee and employer. Workers were being replaced everyday, and a strict working environment arose. To help in understanding the new strict and risky conditions of the working environment two images of textile workers from before and after the Industrial Revolution were compared. Before the technological breakthrough of gears and steam powered engines the only way to produce clothing or other textile goods was to have a trained craftsman weave the item with a loom.
This required a lot of skill and was recognized as a more prominent profession than farmers and others. In the image Weaving: A Sixteenth-Century German Weaver and His Loom the craftsmen seems to be pleased with his cozy little workspace and does not appear to be in any sort of strain. In the second image Weaving: An English Cotton Mill, 1833 a young woman appears to be kneeling against a row of huge textile machinery. She has to stand all day feeding materials into the huge dangerous machines and lets the machines do all the skilled work needed.
This method was able to greatly increase production output which inevitably lowered the prices of the final goods. As employers got stricter, the pace of work and days off began showing significant changes. Before the Industrial Revolution workers were allowed forty-four days off, not including Sundays and Holy Mondays, and they were all for celebrations of Catholic Holidays. Under the new managerial techniques of the bosses of the industries, workers began to see a new work schedule that they were not very fond of. “In times where wealth and power ruled the land, only the strongest could survive.
For the majority of persons who were not able to seep through the cracks of society and rise to the top, they were stuck working miserable hours and only getting the Holiest of the European Catholic Holidays off.” The effects of the Industrial Revolution also transformed the roles and images of women and children in the workplace.
Most working women and children were no longer able to keep up with the speed and efficiency of the competing textile machines. In order to provide a needed extra income to help support their families they were forced to work in cottage industries, making pins or buttons, or even finding work in the mines, dragging the mined coal from the men all the way to the storage units.
The women did all of this while looking after their children and even using opium to keep their babies quiet during work hours. Yet after all of the struggles that women and children faced, there was still an undeniable discrimination of gender and age in the workplace and the salaries of men compared to women is a prime example of it.
In these times of hard labor and economic sufferings new troubles arose, such as social destruction, poor educations, and the ruining of families throughout Europe. Families and friends were constantly going into debt and not being able to afford the bare minimum living conditions. To ensure the economic stability of a family the woman and children were usually forced to work and provide extra income.
This of course led to the inability to gain a proper education and therefore being stuck in the same spiral of society. As life in society continued to get worse so did the relationships of families and friends. “Home life suffered as women were faced with the double burden of factory work followed by domestic chores and child care Unsupervised young women away from home generated societal fears over their fate.” With families being raised improperly and children not getting sufficient educations, the people of the society were getting very ill tempered.
Citizens began to leave their jobs and try to survive off whatever they can find. With the heavily overcrowded and deprived men and women that walk the streets at night, the city and urban areas became unsafe places to live in. Numerous reports of malicious attacks in these urban areas were reported yearly and happiness and social order were jointly hand-in-hand coming to its demise.
The people of the towns understood what they had to do when the standards of living did not satisfy the majority of the society, and so they formed groups and held meetings about sabotaging these wealthy monopolistic businessmen. On the night of April 11, 1812 an army of equipped civilians marched to one of the hydro-powered textile mills and proceeded to rapidly open fire on the mill. The owner of the mill was very paranoid of an upcoming situation like this one so he had soldiers sleep with him in his mill every night.
The rebellious crowd was pushed back by the soldiers and many lay wounded and dying. The soldiers rounded up a group of men that were involved and tried them in the court of law. The plaintiff statement was made by the owner of the mill, Mr. William Cartwright and was briefly recorded.
The court came to a conclusion that anyone that attempts to destroy a mill shall be sentenced to death. The eight men were sentenced to death and are now used as an example of how society will keep getting put down by the men who run it. This document shows how the rich business men and rich politicians work together to keep themselves on top and the rest down below.
During the era of the Industrial Revolution, Europe experienced transformations, whether good or bad, in almost every aspect of society, life and especially labor. These hardships were not taken lightly by mass groups in the societies but were eventually pushed back into their only known way of life.
Out of all of the reconstructions of the marketplace and industries there will never be a more famous or innovative Industrial Revolution in the past, present or future. The European Industrial Revolution was the initial revolution that sparked the growth of many of the superpowers today. The primary source documents and the secondary source documents that were used in this paper helped unite all the scattered information to form the life and effects of the Industrial Revolution.