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Institutions and European Trade
Merchant Guilds, 1000–1800

$34.99 (G)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series

  • Date Published: April 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521747929

$ 34.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • An analytical picture of the Commercial Revolution, showing how medieval and early modern history offers important lessons for modern economic development
    • A definitive account of European merchant guilds, scrutinizing and clarifying their central role in history, economics, and development policy
    • A challenge to complacent views that institutions are efficient, showing how malignant institutions emerge and survive by benefitting powerful interest-groups
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ''this is a very important book that gives rise to a number of highly significant questions for future research." -Reviews in History, Shami Ghosh

    "Ogilvie’s conclusion has profound implications for the study of economic institutions, and that is what makes this an important book -- one might even call it a game-changer." -EH-Net, Donald J.Harreld

    "Sheilagh Ogilvie offers an erudite critique of the medieval and early modern merchant guilds, so often defended in academic debates." -Gladden J. Pappin, Journal of Markets and Morality

    "This book not only effectively demolishes the efficiency thesis regarding merchant guilds, but, more importantly, also provides a framework for analysing institutional change, and it will define the terms of how social institutions should be researched and evaluated for years to come." -Economic History Review.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521747929
    • length: 500 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 152 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Merchant guilds, efficiency, and social capital
    2. What was a merchant guild?
    3. Local merchant guilds
    4. Alien merchant guilds and companies
    5. Merchant guilds and rulers
    6. Commercial security
    7. Contract enforcement
    8. Principal-agent problems
    9. Information
    10. Price volatility
    11. Institutions, social capital and economic development.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • European History Reading Seminar
    • European economic history
    • History of Economic Ideas
  • Author

    Sheilagh Ogilvie, University of Cambridge
    Sheilagh Ogilvie is Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the British Academy. Her prize-winning publications include State Corporatism and Proto-Industry: The Württemberg Black Forest 1590–1797 (Cambridge, 1997, winner of the Gyorgy Ranki Prize 1999) and A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany (2003, winner of the René Kuczynski Prize 2004).

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