Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740

Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740

Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740

Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740

Synopsis

The Dutch Republic, despite its small size and population, functioned as the hub of world trade, shipping, and finance for over a century following the fall of Antwerp in 1585. This is the first general account of Dutch world-trade hegemony in all its aspects from its origins as a depot for "bulk-carrying" in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to its collapse in the eighteenth century.

Excerpt

Historical research ceaselessly pushes forward the frontiers of knowledge. But it also increases the risk of our gradually losing sight of the wood of historical reality for the trees. Meticulous attention to particular aspects, however worthy in itself, has not infrequently resulted in diminished preoccupation with fundamental phenomena, especially where these are European or worldhistorical in scope, involving numerous countries and cultures and which can be focused on only by using a great diversity of sources. in consequence, some key developments, even if universally recognized as crucial, can in their full context become largely ignored. the astounding ascendancy exerted by the Dutch maritime provinces-Holland, Zeeland, and Friesland -- over world commerce, shipping, and finance from the 1590s for approximately a century and a half is an apt example. Whether we prefer to consider Dutch world-trade hegemony in the seventeenth century as an altogether unparalleled manifestation or, as some maintain, one of a series of global empires of trade which have successively shaped the economic life of the modern age, culminating in British preponderance from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth and, finally, that of the United States, no one has ever disputed, or is ever likely to, the centrality of Dutch maritime and commercial activity for over a century in the making of the early modern world.

In recent decades a swelling stream of scholarly studies and monographs has increasingly enriched and extended our understanding of many, perhaps most, facets of the subject. Some of these are of superb quality, landmarks in the writing of economic history, works such as those of N. W. Posthumus on the Leiden cloth industry and Dutch prices, of B. H. Slicher van Bath and Jan de Vries on Dutch agriculture and rural society, and of J. A. Faber on the regional economy of Friesland. Then there have been the more fragmented but invariably masterly studies of J. G. van Dillen and Simon Hart on economic activity in seventeenthcentury Amsterdam. Also a start has been made, notably by P. W. Klein in his path-breaking work on the Trip family and their business methods, on investigating key Dutch merchants and . . .

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