Early Modern Capitalism: Economic and Social Change in Europe, 1400 1800. Edited by Maarten Prak. London: Routledge, 2001. Pp. xv, 236. $90.00
AbstractThe economy of early modern Europe has always posed a particular problem for the economic historian trying to grasp the big picture. Four centuries, give or take, separate the medieval from the industrial era two systems that, rightly or wrongly, appear well defined and even understood. While most early modern historians find in such themes as absolutism, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and exploration convenient pegs on which to hang their particular story, those for whom the past is above all a story of economic development are not so fortunate. Indeed, one senses in the book under review an almost defensive desire to attract the interest of nonspecialist economic historians: we too have something important to say about the sources of economic growth. However, the swirls and eddies of activity, to say nothing of divergent experiences in smaller and larger regions and limited quantitative data, make it hard to pick out the strand of development that resulted in such clear economic differences between the Europe of Joan of Arc and that of Napoleon. Gutenberg, Newton, Galileo, and Columbus would seem as important, even to economic life, as Adam Smith, James Watt, Fran ois Quesnay, or Abraham Darby. Why is their influence so hard to trace? Early Modern Capitalism, then, tries to find that elusive thread.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.
Volume (Year): 62 (2002)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
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