English Overseas Trade during the Centuries of Emergence: Studies in Some Modern Origins of the English-Speaking World

English Overseas Trade during the Centuries of Emergence: Studies in Some Modern Origins of the English-Speaking World

English Overseas Trade during the Centuries of Emergence: Studies in Some Modern Origins of the English-Speaking World

English Overseas Trade during the Centuries of Emergence: Studies in Some Modern Origins of the English-Speaking World

Excerpt

The studies in this volume are in no way intended to constitute a history of English foreign trade during the period they cover, though it is hoped that some salient characteristics have been explained. Indeed, they are not even exercises in orthodox 'economic history', whose frontiers I have crossed and recrossed as it suited my ends. Neither can they, for the most part, be claimed to represent original contributions to historical knowledge. I have relied wherever possible upon authoritative secondary sources, many of them published in the last ten years, and have turned to the primary materials only occasionally, when the question seemed specially to warrant it. Here and there, unprinted documents have been consulted. But my overriding intention has always been to offer a synthesis. Hence my neglect of a score or more of tempting side- paths of research, each of which might have led me to the production of a specialised monograph, at the cost of not writing this book. It is hardly necessary to add that, given both the time and the finance needful for investigations in libraries and archives abroad, it would not have been difficult to expand every one of the chapters that follow into a volume or more each.

The expression 'centuries of emergence' I have used, for lack of any other, to describe the period between the close of the middle ages, somewhere in the late fifteenth century, and the series of revolutions, political and economic, that ushered in the modern world some three hundred years later. It thus covers a slightly longer span than what French and German historians respectively call the 'ancien régime' and the 'Zeitalter des Absolutismus' . . .

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