Trade, money, and the grievances of the commonwealth : economic debates in the English public sphere during the commercial crisis of the early 1620’s
The turbulent, crisis-ridden first half of the 1620’s was a rich period for economic pamphleteering in England, as has been long recognized in the specialist literature. What is less commonly appreciated is that economic reasoning was not, at that time, exclusively confined to the musings of merchants who sought to influence the course of public policy according to their own practical wisdom or corporate interests. In fact, economic distress was then a central topic for public debate throughout English society at large; it figured prominently both in parliament and at court, thus mobilizing most of the kingdom’s economic and political groups. Using a wide array of primary sources – parliamentary debates, Privy Council records, papers and correspondence by public officials – this paper aims to uncover the place occupied by economic reasoning and discourse within the English public sphere during the early 17th century. When seen against this background, it becomes apparent that the pamphlet literature actually came about as a response to a debate which was already well under way – a rather late chapter of which was the famous controversy among Malynes, Misselden and Mun, played out simultaneously in the political arena and in London’s printing houses.
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