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Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century


The historical analysis of the development of the economy may be useful for the understanding of the current problems and challenges faced by contemporary society. In this relation, the sixteen century was a remarkable period in world history. It was the period, which gave birth to geniuses and brought the most important innovations, discoveries, and changes in all spheres of human life. These changes were interconnected and interrelated, and in complex, they acted like the engine of the development of society on the whole, and the world economy in particular.

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Historical background

The beginning of the 16th century was marked by several geographical discoveries, for instance, the official discovery of Brazil by Pedro Alvares Cabral. The development of colonization fostered the growth of international commerce and enrichment of the countries that controlled colonies. In their turn, “the central governments (dynastic monarchies) of European nations encouraged and protected commerce because it increased tax revenues” (Savoy 3). The demographic growth also made its contribution to the economic boom of the period under consideration. Besides, there occurred considerable changes in human worldview, which were caused by the development of education and literacy. A man was treated as a minor thing of the Universe no more; he became much more important than he had been during the Dark Ages. This may be observed during the epoch of the Renaissance in the seventeenth century. This new concept of man in society was mainly caused by the Reformation, which completely changed the attitude of society to church and religion. These changes went hand-in-hand with the changes in the political and social spheres of society. The spread of literacy and the appearance of the European educational institutions was stimulated by the development of printing. Other inventions, for instance, the discovery of gunpowder, caused significant changes in the military sphere. Nevertheless, most of all, the economic boom of the analyzed period was caused by the intensive development of industry and the growth of towns.

The most developed areas of the economy

Commerce and trade became the most developed areas of the economy, because of the considerable growth of industry and colonization of the world. There appeared new markets and new sources of raw materials due to colonial countries. The development of industry caused the emergence of new branches of trade. Technological inventions were applied in the development of the fleet, and that created additional possibilities for successful international trade. The development of trade and the improvement of the financial situation in the European countries were the causes of the appearance and growth of the banking system in the sixteenth century. What is more, the period is characterized by the active global flow of gold and silver.

Influence on society

The economic boom of the sixteenth century, certainly, made the life of people better. This statement concerned almost all inhabitants of Europe. However, economic prosperity was not characteristic of all societal layers equally. “Soldiers became cheaper and monarchies richer” (Corfis and Wolfe 269). This means, that those, who had been rich earlier, managed to improve their financial status, but the poorest people continued to live from hand to mouth. Speaking about the rural and urban population, it should be mentioned, that the urban population enjoyed a rather prosperous and stable life; workers got an opportunity to join guilds, which provided their members with the necessary support. Technological innovations were applied in the agricultural sphere as well, but their integration was carried out rather slowly. However, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, many peasants could afford to eat meat, though the situation changed by the end of the century when many rural inhabitants started losing their land, which became concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The last decade of the century was marked by lean years and peasants’ rebellions, caused by a hard economic situation. The middle class was formed during this period, and it became the predominant social layer.


In conclusion, it should be mentioned, that each historical epoch is significant in its way. The analysis of the sixteenth century shows the connection between industrial, political, cultural, and economic changes in society. It proves that the economic development of society is usually stimulated by certain changes in different spheres of life and that it is the natural consequence of general development.

Works Cited

Corfis, Ivy A., and Wolfe, Michael. The Medieval City Under Siege. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2000.

Seavoy, Ronald E. Origins and Growth of the Global Economy: From the Fifteenth Century Onward. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 2). Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, November 2). Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century.

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"Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century." StudyCorgi, 2 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century." November 2, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century." November 2, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century." November 2, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Economic Boom Factors of the 16th Century'. 2 November.

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