The Rise of Merchant Empires

Long Distance Trade in the Early Modern World 1350–1750

The Rise of Merchant Empires

European dominance of the shipping lanes in the early modern period was a prelude to the great age of European imperial power in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet in the present age we can see that the pre-imperial age was in fact more an 'age of partnership' or an 'age of competition' when the West and Asia vied on even terms. The essays in this volume examine, on a global basis, the many different trading empires from the end of the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century.


"taking a fresh and usually comparative look at a mass of existing data, scholarship, and debates concerning the volume and composition of European-centered trade and the activities of merchant communities around the globe...this book assembles and reconsiders an impressive amount of scattered material...orients the reader with the aid of nine excellent maps, introduces current controversies, and contributes to a global dialogue among early modernists." Journal of Asian and African Studies

"...a well-researched, well-written and highly commendable set of essays that will prove a useful starting point for historians wishing to add a global perspective to their understanding of early modern history." The Sixteenth Century Journal

"...[the contributors] present much new information and summarize recent scholarship in their particular fields, making an exceedingly useful compendium for anyone trying to comprehend world-wide patterns of commerce between 1350 and 1750." William H. McNeill, Renaissance Quarterly

"...more coherence than many conference publications. The authors of the thirteen essays have clearly kept in mind such central issues as the relative importance of overseas trade for European economic growth and the relationship of European merchants overseas to indigenous mercantile communities." William and Mary Quarterly

"This collection is full of interest. Even the essays that are largely surveys, dependent on secondary sources, are succinct and informative. Many economic historians will want to refer often to the book for comparative material." Jan Hogendorn, Journal of Interdisciplinary History