The Rise of Commercial Empires: England and the Netherlands in the Age of Mercantilism, 1650-1770

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In early modern Europe, and particularly in the Netherlands, commercial empires were held together as much by cities as by unified nation states. David Ormrod here takes a regional economy as his preferred unit of analysis, the North Sea economy: an interlocking network of trades shaped by public and private interests, and the matrix within which Anglo-Dutch competition, borrowing and collaboration took shape. He shows how England's increasingly coherent mercantilist objectives undermined Dutch commercial hegemony, in ways which contributed to the restructuring of the North Sea staplemarket system. The commercial revolution has rightly been identified with product diversification and the expansion of long-distance trading, but the reorganization of England's nearby European trades was equally important, providing the foundation for eighteenth-century commercial growth and facilitating the expansion of the Atlantic economy. With the Anglo-Scottish union of 1707, the last piece of a national British entrepot system was put into place.