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The displacement of the centre of the European economy from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the beginning of north-south divergence in Europe has been discussed on the basis of data on real wages, urbanization rates, and, more recently, estimates of gross domestic product for a number of European countries. The purpose of the present article is to contribute to this line of research with the elaboration of yearly series of total energy consumption in Italy and England for the long period 1560-1913. New data on energy services, energy intensity, and, finally, social savings from the use of energy are also presented and discussed for both Italy and England. These new data allow us to specify that energy played a central role. Yet it was relatively late that its importance as a provider of mechanical work developed fully; that is, from 1830 onwards in England and from the end of the nineteenth century in Italy.