Cities of Commerce

Oscar Gelderblom, Cities of Commerce – The Institutional Foundations of International Trade in the Low Countries, 1250 -1650, Princeton University Press.


Cities of Commerce - The Institutional Foundations of International Trade in the Low CountriesCities of Commerce develops a model of institutional change in European commerce based on urban rivalry. Cities continuously competed with each other by adapting commercial, legal, and financial institutions to the evolving needs of merchants. Oscar Gelderblom traces the successive rise of Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam to commercial primacy between 1250 and 1650, showing how dominant cities feared being displaced by challengers while lesser cities sought to keep up by cultivating policies favorable to trade. He argues that it was this competitive urban network that promoted open-access institutions in the Low Countries, and emphasizes the central role played by the urban power holders–the magistrates–in fostering these inclusive institutional arrangements. Gelderblom describes how the city fathers resisted the predatory or reckless actions of their territorial rulers, and how their nonrestrictive approach to commercial life succeeded in attracting merchants from all over Europe.

Oscar GelderblomOscar Gelderblom, Professor of Financial History at the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University. He is an economic historian whose main research interest is the history of Europe before the Industrial Revolution. His publications deal with topics such asfinancial markets, entrepreneurship, migration, and political economy.

Personal page of Professor Oscar Gelderblom :


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
gdri (July 24, 2014). Cities of Commerce. EurasiaTrajeco. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from

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