Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000–1800
What was the role of merchant guilds in the medieval and early modern economy? Does their wide prevalence and long survival mean they were efficient institutions that benefited the whole economy? Or did merchant guilds simply offer an effective way for the rich and powerful to increase their wealth, at the expense of outsiders, customers and society as a whole? These privileged associations of businessmen were key institutions in the European economy from 1000 to 1800. Historians debate merchant guilds' role in the Commercial Revolution, economists use them to support theories about institutions and development, and policymakers view them as prime examples of social capital, with important lessons for modern economies. Sheilagh Ogilvie's magisterial new history of commercial institutions shows how scrutinizing merchant guilds can help us understand which types of institution made trade grow, why institutions exist, and how corporate privileges affect economic efficiency and human well-being.
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Abulafia agency problems agents alien merchant guilds Antwerp argued Ashtor benefits Bruges Carlos and Nicholas Champagne fairs chant guilds cities claimed collective reprisals commercial security competition consulados consuls contract enforcement costs counts of Champagne Dollinger 1970 Dutch economic efficient embargo English enjoyed Europe European merchant evidence exclusive export fifteenth century Flanders Flemish foreign merchants fourteenth century Gelderblom 2005b Genoese German Hanse German merchants granted Greif guild courts guild members guilds and privileged Hanseatic Harreld Hudson’s Bay Company Ibid imposed individual merchants instance institutions international trade Italian merchants jurisdiction Kontor L¨ubeck legal monopolies local merchant guilds long-distance merchants long-distance trade Lopez medieval and early medieval Commercial Revolution membership merchant colonies merchant companies merchants trading monopolistic municipal notaries Ogilvie particular pre-modern principal-agent problems privileged companies Roover rulers saw in Chapter social capital Spanish stability thirteenth century tion towns trading centres Venetian merchant guild Venice wool