In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Britain fights in several lengthy, international conflicts. These wars are financed by Britain’s flourishing new empire. The empire exploits colonies and black slaves for international trade, backed up by British sea power. Northamptonshire plays a big role in the history of slavery: many country houses use slaves, but many people fight against slavery in the county. By the end of the period, the British Empire covered a fifth of the world. At home, new manufacturing techniques are invented, factories are built, and transport is developed. This happens later in Northamptonshire than elsewhere. Industrialisation brings social changes too: cities and towns grow rapidly, the New Poor Law is introduced, religious Nonconformity increases, more men can vote, and women have more influence in political matters (but not the vote).