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European agriculture was quite sustainable until the appearance of fossil fuels and mined fertilizers in the middle of the 19th century... French population had been more-or-less constant since the Celtic era, at that point, with rises due to more efficient use of the soil's productivity, and two population dips due to systemic (but not necessarily caused by agriculture) crises.

I presume you meant from late medieval times to the end of the seventeenth century? France actually had very slow population growth by western standards in the second half of the nineteenth century (the withdrawal method - more effective then you'd think ;)In any case I don't believe fossil fuels were used in French farming in serious amounts until the twentieth century though I'd have to check to see if my memory is correct.

by MarekNYC on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 02:01:19 PM EST
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