War was endemic, with national interests and dynastic concerns prevailing in a system guided by the balance of power. The mid-century War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763) were fought not only in Europe but also in North America and India. Frederick II the Great was the instigator, desiring Austrian Silesia, but Britain was the true victor, driving France from Canada and India, and creating a world-wide empire. Standing armies were the norm, and with religious passions more muted, wars were less ideological.
The population grew, mainly as the result of a declining death rate and improvements in agriculture thanks to a warmer climate, better livestock, improved soil fertility, and new crops such as the potato. Paper money or banknotes compensated for the dearth of gold and silver, and institutions such as the Bank of England mobilized the wealth of the kingdom through credit and loans. The seeds of the industrial revolution were planted, notably in the textile industry where new technologies transformed the manufacture of cotton cloth.