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The Low Countries' Export Trade in Textiles with the Mediterranean Basin, 1200-1600: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Comparative Advantages in Overland and Maritime Trade Routes

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  • John H. Munro

Abstract

This paper challenges the conventional wisdom in European economic history that long-distance maritime transport was always more cost-effective than overland trade routes. Thus the majority of historians in the past century have attributed the rapid decline of the medieval Champagne Fairs, governing the textile trades between the Low Countries, northern France, and Italy, to the establishment of an effective and permanent' direct sea-route between Italy and north-west Europe from the early 14th century (though the first, a Genoese galley, can be dated to 1277). The paper concludes by examining the various factors and forces that led to a fall in transport and transaction costs in the international textile trades, via the overland routes, including river routes, between north-west Europe and the Mediterranean basin from the later 15th to early 17th centuries.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Munro, 1999. "The Low Countries' Export Trade in Textiles with the Mediterranean Basin, 1200-1600: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Comparative Advantages in Overland and Maritime Trade Routes," Working Papers munro-99-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:munro-99-01
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lane, Frederic C., 1969. "The crossbow in the nautical revolution of the middle ages," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-2), pages 161-171.
    2. Patrick Chorley, 1987. "The cloth exports of Flanders and northern France during the thirteenth century: a luxury trade?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(3), pages 349-379, August.
    3. Munro, John H., 1998. "The symbiosis of towns and textiles: urban institutions and the changing fortunes of cloth manufacturing in the Low Countries and England, 1270 - 1570," MPRA Paper 11266, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 1998.
    4. Herman Van Der Wee, 1975. "Structural Changes and Specialization in the Industry of the Southern Netherlands, 1100–1600," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 28(2), pages 203-221, May.
    5. North, Douglass C., 1984. "Government and the Cost of Exchange in History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 255-264, June.
    6. R. S. Lopez & H. A. Miskimin, 1962. "The Economic Depression of the Renaissance," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 14(3), pages 408-426, April.
    7. Reed, Clyde G., 1973. "Transactions Costs and Differential Growth in Seventeenth Century Western Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(01), pages 177-190, March.
    8. James Masschaele, 1993. "Transport costs in medieval England," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 46(2), pages 266-279, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Munro, John H., 2007. "Hanseatic commerce in textiles from the Low Countries and England during the Later Middle Ages: changing trends in textiles, markets, prices, and values, 1290 - 1570," MPRA Paper 11199, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2008.
    2. Munro, John H., 2002. "The medieval origins of the 'Financial Revolution': usury, rentes, and negotiablity," MPRA Paper 10925, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2002.
    3. Edwards, Jeremy & Ogilvie, Sheilagh, 2012. "What lessons for economic development can we draw from the Champagne fairs?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 131-148.
    4. John H. Munro, 2008. "Necessities and Luxuries in Early-Modern Textile Consumption: Real Values of Worsted Says and Fine Woollens in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries," Working Papers tecipa-323, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    5. Munro, John H., 2006. "South German silver, European textiles, and Venetian trade with the Levant and Ottoman Empire, c. 1370 to c. 1720: a non-Mercantilist approach to the balance of payments problem, in Relazione economic," MPRA Paper 11013, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2006.
    6. Munro, John H., 2005. "I panni di lana: Nascita, espansione e declino dell’industria tessile di lana italiana, 1100-1730
      [The woollen cloth industry in Italy: The rise, expansion, and decline of the Italian cloth industr
      ," MPRA Paper 11038, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2006.
    7. Munro, John H., 2002. "Industrial energy from water-mills in the European economy, 5th to 18th Centuries: the limitations of power," MPRA Paper 11027, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2002.
    8. Guha, Brishti, 2012. "Who will monitor the monitors? Informal law enforcement and collusion at Champagne," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 261-277.
    9. Munro, John H., 2000. "The 'New Institutional Economics' and the Changing Fortunes of Fairs in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: the Textile Trades, Warfare, and Transaction Costs," MPRA Paper 11029, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Feb 2001.
    10. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • N6 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction
    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services

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