Why so many western people find it hard to image 1st world country, in pre industrial revolution era
Despite not having modern technology, many ancient civilization enjoy 1st word status, eg China, Ottoman, India, Rome, Egypt and Native American's Empire. Europe was 3rd world during dark and middle ages, wasn't due to lack of technology, but due to church's great power and restriction and a corrupt feudal society set up by church, under the concept of "king is god's given right" industrial revolution is merely how Europe get out of poverty after overthrowing church and began age of enlightment, by increase manufacture and trade with the wealthier non west.
Starting comment holds some truth, only timeline is different, when it comes to Europes rise:
After the middle ages there was first: Religious diversity (16th century) - then devastating religious wars and turmoil ( 17th century) - then the age of enlightment (Voltaire and Kant, 18th century) - then industrial revolution (19th century) - then social and economic revolutions (20th century).
You may notice the ongoing changes in Europe.
Other civilizations: China peaked with its Ming dynasty - all time of the Qing dynasty was preservation and stepback.
You need turmoil, revolution, you name it periodically to move on. It may be painful but it keeps things going. China, India, Ottoman Empire all had their decline after enjoying long periods of stability and prosperity. In this sense: long means 2 centuries or more.
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