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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Though long-distance trade routes had always connected Europe to the broader communities of Africa and Asia, these only become more robust in the late medieval era. The scientific and technological breakthroughs in maritime transport in the fifteenth century not only increased the volume of trade with the outside world but also linked new regions in the Atlantic and Pacific rims to a global commercial network. By the eighteenth century a series of changes had rapidly transformed the economy of Europe and the world in new and unexpected ways. This chapter considers the emergence of the new, ‘global’ economy by focusing on three central topics: the merchants who sought opportunities, the growth in state regulation over commerce, and finally the material substance of early modern trade through the exchange of commodities, both new and old, that exposed Europe to a broader variety of goods than ever before.

Keywords: Commodities, economy, globalization, merchants, protectionism, trade

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