THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF BELGIUM AND SWITZERLAND IN THE EARLY NINETEENTH CENTURY
In Chapter 3 we discussed the great importance for western European industrialisation of the French Revolution and the Empire which succeeded it. This reconstruction of the continent and the changes which it brought about both in political boundaries and the structure of society did not only have important economic effects on France itself but also on France's neighbours. In two of these especially it was a period of intense economic development which was based on the protection of the European market from British competition. The Austrian Netherlands, after 1830 to emerge as the kingdom of Belgium, were actually incorporated into the French Empire and given access free of tariffs to the French market itself. In Chapter 3 we discussed the consequences of this. The availability of so large a market brought about an industrial revolution in those provinces of very much the same kind as that which occurred in France. In Switzerland it was the effects of protection which were more important than sudden access to a larger market and the 'continental
system' provided the framework for a similar industrial revolution based on the mechanisation of cotton spinning. To fully understand the economic development of western Europe it is useful to follow the history of what happened to these two areas after 1814 when the French Empire collapsed and they were again subjected to a far more vigorous and massive British competition than that of the eighteenth century.