Official 10 Passage 3


Seventeenth - Century European Economic Growth


The word “meager” in the passage is closest in meaning to

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  • A
    very necessary
  • B
    very low
  • C
  • D
正确答案: B

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  • In the late sixteenth century and into the seventeenth, Europe continued the growth that had lifted it out of the relatively less prosperous medieval period (from the mid 400s to the late 1400s). Among the key factors behind this growth were increased agricultural productivity and an expansion of trade.

    Populations cannot grow unless the rural economy can produce enough additional food to feed more people. During the sixteenth century, farmers brought more land into cultivation at the expense of forests and fens (low-lying wetlands). Dutch land reclamation in the Netherlands in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries provides the most spectacular example of the expansion of farmland: the Dutch reclaimed more than 36,000 acres from 1590 to 1615 alone.

    Much of the potential for European economic development lay in what at first glance would seem to have been only sleepy villages. Such villages, however, generally lay in regions of relatively advanced agricultural production, permitting not only the survival of peasants but also the accumulation of an agricultural surplus for investment. They had access to urban merchants, markets, and trade routes.

    Increased agricultural production in turn facilitated rural industry, an intrinsic part of the expansion of industry. Woolens and textile manufacturers, in particular, utilized rural cottage (in-home) production, which took advantage of cheap and plentiful rural labor. In the German states, the ravages of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) further moved textile production into the countryside. Members of poor peasant families spun or wove cloth and linens at home for scant remuneration in an attempt to supplement meager family income.

    More extended trading networks also helped develop Europe's economy in this period. "English and Dutch ships carrying rye from the Baltic states reached Spain and Portugal. " Population growth generated an expansion of small-scale manufacturing, particularly of handicrafts, textiles, and metal production in England, Flanders, parts of northern Italy, the southwestern German states, and parts of Spain. Only iron smelting and mining required marshaling a significant amount of capital (wealth invested to create more wealth).

    The development of banking and other financial services contributed to the expansion of trade. By the middle of the sixteenth century, financiers and traders commonly accepted bills of exchange in place of gold or silver for other goods. Bills of exchange, which had their origins in medieval Italy, were promissory notes (written promises to pay a specified amount of money by a certain date) that could be sold to third parties. In this way, they provided credit. At mid-century, an Antwerp financier only slightly exaggerated when he claimed, "One can no more trade without bills of exchange than sail without water." Merchants no longer had to carry gold and silver over long, dangerous journeys. An Amsterdam merchant purchasing soap from a merchant in Marseille could go to an exchanger and pay the exchanger the equivalent sum in guilders, the Dutch currency. The exchanger would then send a bill of exchange to a colleague in Marseille, authorizing the colleague to pay the Marseille merchant in the merchant's own currency after the actual exchange of goods had taken place.

    Bills of exchange contributed to the development of banks, as exchangers began to provide loans. Not until the eighteenth century, however, did such banks as the Bank of Amsterdam and the Bank of England begin to provide capital for business investment. Their principal function was to provide funds for the state.

    The rapid expansion in international trade also benefitted from an infusion of capital, stemming largely from gold and silver brought by Spanish vessels from the Americas. This capital financed the production of goods, storage, trade, and even credit across Europe and overseas. Moreover an increased credit supply was generated by investments and loans by bankers and wealthy merchants to states and by joint-stock partnerships- an English innovation (the first major company began in 1600). Unlike short-term financial cooperation between investors for a single commercial undertaking, joint-stock companies provided permanent funding of capital by drawing on the investments of merchants and other investors who purchased shares in the company.

  • 在16世纪末至17世纪初,欧洲经济度过了低迷发展的中世纪(公元5世纪中至公元15世纪末),继续保持增长拉动经济增长最关键的因素是农业生产力的提高和贸易规模的扩大。

    如果农村经济不能生产足够的粮食,人口增长就不可能实现。在16世纪,农民们以伐木开荒为代价,不断开垦耕地。荷兰的土地复垦无疑是16到17世纪中最引人注目的:单单是在1590年到1615年间,荷兰就开垦了36 000多英亩土地。


    农业生产的发展反过来又促进了工业中的部分——农村工业的发展。尤其是羊毛和纺织制造商们,他们利用农村大量廉价的劳动力来进行农舍家庭式生产。在德国,“三十年战争 ”造成严重破坏进一步促使纺织业向乡村迁移。为了贴补本已经微薄的家庭收入,贫困潦倒的农民们通过在家纺织衣料或亚麻来换取少量报酬。




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    原文定位:meager:贫乏的;瘦的。原句“Members of poor peasant families spun or wove cloth and linens at home for scant remuneration in an attempt to supplement meager family income.”,意思是为了贴补本已经微薄的家庭收入,贫困潦倒的农民们通过在家纺织衣料或亚麻来换取少量报酬,可以猜出“meager family income”与“poor peasant families”同义。


    A选项 非常必要的;

    B选项 非常少的,正确;

    C选项 传统的;

    D选项 主要的。