30 Short Questions and Answers on Peasants and Farmers of Medieval Times

1. What is meant by the term British Agricultural Revolution?

The term British Agricultural Revolution describes a period of agricultural developments in Britain between 16th century and mid 18th century which saw a massive increase in agricultural production and net output.

2. Despite availability of labour, why did farmers invest in threshing machines?


Rich farmers invested in threshing machines because

(i) They feared shortage of labour due to Napoleonic.

(ii) Moreover they felt that the available labour was and prone to drinking.

(iii) To reduce dependence on labour and increase efficiency.


3. Why and how were the Native Americans driven westwards?

The white settlers moved westwards as this area held a lot of promise. Forests could be cut to provide land for cultivation, animals hunted for their skin; and mountains mined for their minerals. .

To evacuate Native Americans numerous wars were fought, in which Indians were massacred and their villages burnt. Ultimately they were forced to sign treaties and give up their land.

4. Give any two reasons for the increase in food production in the 19th century.


Food production increased in 19th century because:

(i) More lands were brought under cultivation.

(ii) Landlords sliced pasturelands and carved up open fields.

(iii) Forest commons were cut up and marsh land was made suitable for cultivation.


5. What were the occupations of Native Americans?

(i) Native Americans lived by hunting, gathering and fishing.

(ii) Others cultivated corn, beans, tobacco and pumpkin.

6. Give any two positive results of enclosures on English agriculture.


(i) Enclosures helped bring new land under cultivation.

(ii) Helped increase food production.

(iii) Barren land was made cultivable by clearance of forests and marshes. (Any two)

7. How did the introduction of threshing machines improve agriculture?


Introduction of threshing machines improved agriculture by improving efficiency and reducing costs.

8. How did the British build resources of the state?

The British built the resources of the state by imposing a regular system of land revenue, increasing revenue rates and by expanding area under cultivation at the expense of grazing lands and forests.

9. Name some crops which India under British colonial rule produced for the world market.

The crops which India produced for the world market were-indigo, opium, sugar cane, jute, wheat and several others.

10. Why were Indian farmers pressurised to grow commercial crops?

Indian farmers were pressurised to grow commercial crops to feed the growing urban population of Europe and to meet the growing raw material needs of the mills of Lanchashire and Manchester in England.

11 What commodities was East India Company buying in China, for sale in England?

Tea and silk were the two commodities which East India Company was buying in China, to trade in England.

12. Why did British have a negative balance of payment with China?

The British traders had a negative balance of payment with China because while tea became popular in Britain, England in the late 18th century produced nothing which they could trade to China i.e., persuade the Chinese to buy.

13. What was the cause of anxiety of the English merchants?

The cause of anxiety of the English merchants was the constant outflow of treasure- silver bullion to finance the tea trade.

14. Trade in which commodity helped the English reverse the unfavourable balance of payment with China?

Trade in opium which was produced in India, helped the English reverse the unfavourable balance of payment with China.

15. Where was poppy/opium cultivation done for export to China?

Poppy cultivation was done in Bengal for export to China.

16. Why was the trade in opium illegal?

Trade in opium was illegal because the Chinese Emperor had forbidden its production and sale except for medicinal purposes.

17. Who introduced opium into China in the 16th century?

The Portuguese had introduced opium into China in the 16th century.

18. Why had the Chinese banned the production and sale of Opium?

Except for medicinal purposes the Chinese Emperor had banned the production and sale of Opium because of its addictive properties.

19. Why was Opium trade so important for the British?

Opium trade was important for the British because returns from Opium sale financed the tea purchases in China and helped reverse the unfavourable balance of trade.

20. Why the war between Britain and China (1837-1842) was called the Opium War?

The war was called the Opium War because the primary cause of war was the British illegal trade in Opium.

21. What was the major consequence of the Opium War (1837-1842)?

China was defeated and forced to accept the humiliating terms of the treaties. These unequal treaties forced China to open up for trade with foreign merchants.

22. Expansion of wheat agriculture caused many problems in the Great Plains. Explain.

(i) Expansion of wheat agriculture led to terrifying dust storms in the 1930s. People were blinded and choked, while cattle suffocated to death. (ii) Fences as well as fields were buried by sand. Tractors and machines were clogged with dust and damaged beyond repair.

23. State any one cause of Dust Bowl in Great Plains of USA.

To undertake extensive wheat cultivation to meet world demands, entire landscape was stripped of grass cover. Thus when rains failed year after year and winds blew ferociously the whole region became a dust bowl.

24. Define the term Enclosure.

Fences coming up on common land were termed enclosure.

25. Give one way in which enclosures affected the poor farmers.

With ‘Enclosures’ the poor farmer lost his customary rights to graze his cattle etc.

26. Why did farmers undertake cultivation of turnip and clover?

Farmers undertook cultivation of turnip and clover because these crops helped enhance the fertility of the soil by increasing the nitrogen content of the soil. Turnip was also a good fodder relished by cattle.

27. What was the attitude of the British Parliament towards the Enclosure Movement?

The early enclosures were not supported by the state but by mid 18th century a number of enclosure acts, which culminated in the General Enclosure Act of 1801 was passed legalising enclosures.

28. State the difference between enclosures of the 16th century and 18th century England.

The 16th century enclosures proceeded slowly and were created by individual landlord with the intention to promote sheep farming.

In the 18th century, unlike the 16th century, there was a frantic effort to enclose lands, signifying changing times. Land was enclosed to promote grain production.

29. What was the occupation of the Native Americans?

The occupation of the Native Americans was largely nomadic. Many lived only by hunting, gathering and fishing. Others cultivated corn, beans, tobacco and pumpkin. Still others were expert trappers of beaver.

30. What was the cause of conflict between the British government and the Indian peasant?

The cause of conflict between the British government and the Indian farmer was the unremunerative price of opium given to the cultivator. The British bought opium at a very cheap price and sold it at a high price to opium agents in China.