A History of the Economic Institutions of Modern Europe: An Introduction of der Moderne Kapitalismus of Werner Sombart

By Frederick L. Nussbaum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE MARKET: (I) ITS EXTERNAL ASPECT

THE CHANGE IN THE FORM OF THE MARKET

THE epoch of early capitalism was marked by a very radical change in the form and character of markets, especially in the geographical range and the intensity of the process of buying and selling. More goods came into the market as a natural consequence of the increasing demand, which in its turn seems to have been partly due to the increase in the supply of gold and silver, averaging about six million dollars a year, and also to the increase in population, so marked throughout the entire period. Furthermore, new consumer groups were beginning to appear in such forms as to affect the demand for goods. The prosperity of the bourgeois and of the nobles was beginning to manifest itself in expenditures for objects of comfort and luxury. The charming and expensive domestic architecture of Elizabeth's time in England is a case in point. As the kings on the Continent succeeded in centralizing power and developed great armies, they required huge supplies such as only elaborate organization could provide. The cities were growing into great aggregations of population which drew upon wide areas for their food and raw materials. The oversea colonies, both as buyers and as sellers, necessitated new organizations to handle their business relations. At the same time, they introduced a whole new series of materials into ordinary commerce. The predominance of Florence in the cloth industry led to the growth of great wool and dye markets there. Shipbuilding necessitated the concentration of considerable materials for building the ships and for the support of workers at

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