Western Civilization

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Last updated: April 13, 2019

Part I.The Dutch were the first to capitalize on herring, a certain type of fish that migrated to the Atlantic. They began to harvest these fish in abundance in the 17th century.

They built “Buizen” ships, which were specialized ships that used a two deck system for harvesting herring (LN 1/13/03). These ships were equipped with two large nets that were cast on both sides of the ships. When the nets were full the crew would empty them on the first deck and then flip the second deck over the first.

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While the nets were being cast again, the crew would begin to clean the first load of fish. The Dutch method of harvesting herring was very efficient (LN 1/13/03).These Buizen ships were very important to the Dutch because they allowed them to harvest the herring and sell them to the French. The French needed the herring as a source of animal flesh in their bad diets. The proof that the herring improved the French diet was the growth of the French population in the 1680’s and the 1690’s (LN 1/13/03). The French demand for herring allowed the Dutch to become very profitable using a capitalist system, because they were selling the herring at a higher price than they paid to harvest the herring (LN 1/13/03).Part II.In the 17th century, both the Netherlands and France witnessed a slow demographic growth.

Though there were extremely different reasons for this slow population growth, these countries both grew none or little over this time (1/13/03). The French had a high birth rate, but this was counteracted with their high death rate. The Dutch, however, who lived in the Netherlands, welcomed this slow rate of population growth (1/13/03). Slow population growth is a sign of modernity for the Dutch and pre-modernity for the people of France.The maximum number of children that a French couple could have was seven, which many had (LN 1/13/03). With many families having up to seven children, one would assume that the French would have a well populated country. Perhaps even overpopulated. This was not the case, however, because of the effect of the weather on French agriculture.

France was having a small ice age which destroyed most of their crops. This caused people to have bad diets and weak immune systems, which lead to a high infant mortality rate. Also, rye was the people of France’s staple food. When “ergot”, a kind of mold similar to LSD, got on the rye many people got sick and died because of their weak immune systems (LN 1/13/03).The lack of animal flesh in the French diet also contributed to sickness and death. A stunning 60% of children died before they ever reached the age of one year old (LN 1/13/03). This lack of nutrition in the French diet lasted until the more modern Dutch began to sell herring to France.

The Buizen ships are a good example of the modernity of the Dutch.The Netherlands was also suffering from a small ice age. The Dutch figured out a way to rotate crops in order to get the most out of their land. They rotated turnips, parsnips, and clover which was used to feed people, feed animals, and also to purify the land (LN 1/13/03).

This is another good example of the Dutch’s modern ways.Since the Dutch had meat in their diets and had mastered the crop rotation technique, one might assume that their population would rise. This was not the case, however.

Though the Dutch were healthy, they were also self-conscious. The Dutch were a very religious people. John Calvin came up with the theory of Predetermination. He believed that it was determined if people would go to heaven or not when they were born (LN 1/13/03). Many people adopted this theory. The Dutch wanted to show everyone that they were one of “the chosen”, therefore they were more concious about issues like sex. They thought that sex was only to be done certain ways, at certain times, and only within marriage.

This caused a low birth rate. Also, the Dutch were the first to experiment with contraception, which caused a lower number of pregnancies (LN 1/13/03).The difference between the Dutch and the French was the level of their modernity.

The Dutch were extremely modern in their ways, while the French were extremely pre-modern. Though the two civilizations were different they both had this slow demographic growth. The Dutch intentionally participated in this stagnant population while the French suffered in it through disease and famine. This proves that the quality of life increases with modernity.

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