Edmond SmithDec 13, 2021
The Community That Shaped England's Trade and Empire, 1550-1650
Yale University Press 2021
In the century following Elizabeth I's rise to the throne, English trade blossomed as thousands of merchants launched ventures across the globe. Through the efforts of these "mere merchants," England developed from a peripheral power on the fringes of Europe to a country at the center of a global commercial web, with interests stretching from Virginia to Ahmadabad and Arkhangelsk to Benin.
In Merchants: The Community That Shaped England's Trade and Empire, 1550-1650 (Yale UP, 2021), Edmond Smith traces the lives of English merchants from their earliest steps into business to the heights of their successes. Smith unpicks their behavior, relationships, and experiences, from exporting wool to Russia, importing exotic luxuries from India, and building plantations in America. He reveals that the origins of "global" Britain are found in the stories of these men whose livelihoods depended on their skills, entrepreneurship, and ability to work together to compete in cutthroat international markets. As a community, their efforts would come to revolutionize Britain's relationship with the world.
Joseph Krulder is a historian of Britain's long eighteenth-century: cultural, social, military, and economic.