The Industrial Revolution represented a shift in influence away from the traditional power-holders in England. Aristocratic rule was no longer supreme, for "upstart" manufacturers were now often more wealthy and more important to the nation's overall well being than the landed gentry. They also employed a far greater percentage of the national economy. However, the aristocratic landholders did not entirely lose out: they maintained some power, and only grudgingly gave it up to business interests. Often, the aristocracy, trying to take power away from the manufacturers, would ally with the working class. As both sides, aristocrats and manufacturers, competed for the support of the workers, reforms in Britain gradually took place through Parliamentary deal- making without the need for a bloody revolution. In its impact on human societies, the industrial revolution was probably the most important change in its era, more important, perhaps, than any events in the last few thousand years. The Industrial Revolution allowed increasing urbanization and greatly increased the overall wealth and production power of humanity, although not everyone always shared in the benefits of industrialization equally.

Though industrialization was most prominent in Europe, its transformative powers must be seen as a theme through the period of 1815-1848. Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution went hand-in-hand with the Western European countries' liberal traditions. Many of the same principles underlying the French Revolution were being developed via the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Industrializing nations developed middle classes who began to wield political clout. Further, the Industrial Revolution would give Western Europe the economic system and technology to dominate much of the world in the colonial period towards the end of the 19th century. The countries that did not transition to industrial systems very quickly got left behind, and often ended up as satellites to the major powers.

It would be some time before workers developed a counter-ideology of their own. Yet as manufacturing brought hundreds of thousands of workers into the cities, they started thinking about organizing to protect their own political interests. By 1825, the workers in the industrializing nations would become a social and political force of their own.

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