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The changes that led to the first industrialisation were cumulative, aided by occasional positive shocks that were largely fortuitous. At the heart was the emergence right from the sixteenth century of a business culture, originally in the whole country and most vigorously in the south. But from the seventeenth century this culture was seduced in the south by the gentry, while market opportunities redirected entrepreneurship to the agricultural sector and overseas and wholesale trades: manufacturing activities were slowly stifled or abandoned. In the north manufacturing and the business culture remained energetic, hence economic development in the two halves of the country started to follow separate paths.
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