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Beyond Thomas Mun: the economic ideas of Edward Coke, Francis Bacon and Lionel Cranfield


  • Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak



This paper proposes to approach the economic ideas which prevailed in England during the early 17th century by moving beyond the historical and analytical exegesis of the printed pamphlets of the time, and focusing instead on the intellectual perspectives brought to bear upon economic matters by three of the most prominent public figures of late Jacobean England: Lionel Cranfield, Francis Bacon, and Edward Coke. As civil servants, all three of them were directly involved in the formulation of public policies aimed at economic regulation. Bacon and Coke, however, approached this problem as part of a larger system of public policy whose purpose was to promote order and stability in the commonwealth at large. Cranfield, on the other hand, brought a mercantile perspective to bear on the matter, emphasizing the importance of a favorable balance of trade, and stressing the usefulness of quantitative data in the assessment of economic phenomena. It is concluded that while Tudor political and social philosophy still dominated the way in which the English crown dealt with problems of an economic nature, the new perspective introduced by Cranfield exerted a perceptible influence within official circles.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak, 2013. "Beyond Thomas Mun: the economic ideas of Edward Coke, Francis Bacon and Lionel Cranfield," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 473, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdp:texdis:td473

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Screpanti, Ernesto & Zamagni, Stefano, 2005. "An Outline of the History of Economic Thought," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780199279142, Decembrie.
    2. Gould, J. D., 1955. "The Trade Crisis of the Early 1620's and English Economic Thought," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 121-133, June.
    3. Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak, 2012. "Dreams of order and freedom : debating trade management early 17th century England," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG 457, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
    4. Wennerlind, Carl, 2011. "Casualties of Credit: The English Financial Revolution, 1620-1720," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674047389, march.
    5. W. H. Price, 1905. "The Origin of the Phrase "Balance of Trade."," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 20(1), pages 157-167.
    6. Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak, 2011. "The role of experts in the public assessment of England´s trade crisis of the early 1620´s," Textos para Discussão Cedeplar-UFMG td421, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
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    Blog mentions

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    1. From My Notebook no. 11
      by Gavin Kennedy in Adam Smith's Lost Legacy on 2013-05-13 20:51:00

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    More about this item


    Stuart England; Lionel Cranfield; Francis Bacon; Edward Coke; public policy.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)

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