Cover

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Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Many people and institutions assisted me in the writing of this book. I am grateful to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Research Institute for History and Culture of Utrecht University, the Department of Economics of the University of California...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-18

When Spanish troops captured Antwerp in August 1585 the city’s merchants faced a difficult choice. They could stay, if they accepted the sovereignty of Philip II, but commercial prospects were bleak since large groups of Flemish textile workers had already left for France, England...

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2. Commercial Cities

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pp. 19-41

In late medieval and early modern Europe many towns competed to attract foreign merchants and join in the emerging market economy. It was a contradictory competition because rival cities had to collaborate to move up in the urban hierarchy. The most successful ports in the...

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3. The Organization of Exchange

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pp. 42-75

Well-functioning local markets were part and parcel of the growth of long-distance trade in late medieval Europe. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the expansion of Mediterranean trade led to the concentration of hundreds, sometimes thousands of traders...

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4. Crossing Borders

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pp. 76-101

So far we have emphasized the pivotal role of urban governments in the organization of European trade through the creation of well-functioning markets frequented by local traders and visiting foreigners. However, international trade by definition implied the transfer of money...

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5. Conflict Resolution

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pp. 102-140

Premodern Europe was a patchwork of local and regional jurisdictions, each with its own legal traditions. Every commercial city had its own local court applying local laws and customs to business disputes of all kinds.1 This legal fragmentation was never a problem for merchants...

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6. The Protection of Trade

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pp. 141-168

Even if Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam did everything they could to support private contracting between international traders, the agency problems that issued from Europe’s legal fragmentation may have been a minor concern compared with the violent threats merchants...

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7. Dealing with Losses

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pp. 169-197

In spite of an often very high incidence of violence, many international traders in Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam managed to build very profitable businesses. These merchants were willing to take risks to clear big profits, but high margins alone were not enough to be successful...

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8. Conclusion

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pp. 198-210

The organization of international trade in the Low Countries shows how urban competition leads to the creation of inclusive institutions that facilitate exchange and help merchants deal with conflicts. Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam built basically permanent vending...

Appendix A. The Incidence of Violence against Foreign Merchants in the Low Countries, 1250–1650

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pp. 211-226

Appendix B. The Motivation, Organization, and Outcome of Collective Action by Merchants of the German Hanse in Bruges, 1250–1500

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pp. 227-232

Abbreviations

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pp. 233-234

Bibliography

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pp. 235-276

Index

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pp. 277-294