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The Politics of TradeThe Overseas Merchant in State and Society, 1660-1720$
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Perry Gauci

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199241934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199241934.001.0001

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The Mercantile City

The Mercantile City

(p.16) Chapter One The Mercantile City
The Politics of Trade


Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the socio-economic environment of the overseas trader as a necessary prelude to concentration on the merchant as a political figure. It outlines the organizational structures of London's overseas commerce, seeking to clarify the workings of the complex interrelationships that lay at the heart of mercantile activity. This analysis provides a realistic portrait of the character of mercantile society, and also tests several recent theories concerning the City's political development. In particular, it seeks to square continuing scholarly emphasis on the political importance of mercantile ‘interests’ with the findings of economic historians, who suggest that merchants were in general independent traders, a contrast which begs very serious questions concerning the cogency of mercantile political activity.

Keywords:   merchants, socio-economic environment, overseas traders, overseas commerce, mercantile society

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