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date: 03 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Pre-modern merchants faced the experience of legal pluralism and conflicting legal regimes when they traded over huge distances. This chapter suggests seeing this not as structural deficit as legal historians have done but as an opportunity, which enabled merchants to enforce their interests and shape their strategies. Merchants were often combining different strategies to enforce their interests. In the second part, the chapter focuses on the actors and their interests. Empirically, the assumed tension between legal professionals and economic actors seemed to have few consequences. Furthermore, it is shown that mercantile conflict regulation can only be analysed as a part of the social embeddedness of economics into religious and political frames. Thus, violence and long disputes were also integral for mercantile conflict regulation as for the pre-modern societies in general. By studying this embeddedness, the chapter criticizes current research based on new institutional economics from a historical-anthropological perspective.

Keywords: commercial law, conflict management, legal pluralism, contract, privileges, legal experts

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