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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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Business and Public Life

Business and Public Life

(p.63) Chapter Two Business and Public Life
The Politics of Trade


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This chapter takes into account the more modest achievers of the entrepreneurial elite, although it must be recognized that many budding overseas traders never even made it into the lower ranks of the samples discussed here. It examines the diversity of mercantile experience, which in turn further illuminates the kinds of associations promoting individual advancement. The career paths of the London and provincial samples are studied according to the sequence of challenges facing the maturing trader, especially those that historians have deemed especially important for structuring urban associations in the early modern period: background, training, marriage, and civic involvement. In particular, close attention is paid to any generational changes in the merchant life-cycle, in order to establish the importance of the Augustan period for the social and political advancement of the trader. Although an elite group, the wide-ranging experience of the merchant body can certainly tell us much about the challenges and opportunities facing all Englishmen at that time.

Keywords:   city merchants, overseas traders, mercantile activity, Augustan period

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