Cities of Commerce develops a model of institutional
change in European commerce based on urban rivalry. Cities
continuously competed with each other by adapting commercial,
legal, and financial institutions to the evolving needs of
merchants. Oscar Gelderblom traces the successive rise of Bruges,
Antwerp, and Amsterdam to commercial primacy between 1250 and 1650,
showing how dominant cities feared being displaced by challengers
while lesser cities sought to keep up by cultivating policies
favorable to trade. He argues that it was this competitive urban
network that promoted open-access institutions in the Low
Countries, and emphasizes the central role played by the urban
power holders--the magistrates--in fostering these inclusive
institutional arrangements. Gelderblom describes how the city
fathers resisted the predatory or reckless actions of their
territorial rulers, and how their nonrestrictive approach to
commercial life succeeded in attracting merchants from all over
Cities of Commerce intervenes in an important debate on
the growth of trade in Europe before the Industrial Revolution.
Challenging influential theories that attribute this commercial
expansion to the political strength of merchants, this book
demonstrates how urban rivalry fostered the creation of open-access
institutions in international trade.
Subjects: Economics, History, Law
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