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Freedom and trade: from Corporate Freedom and Jealousy of Trade to a Natural Liberty
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2013 (English)In: Keio Economic Studies, ISSN 0022-9709, Vol. 49, 19-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper is to discuss the transformation of the concept of "free" or "freedom of trade" from its Republican corporate version to its emphasis on personal liberty against the backbone of Eighteenth century enlightenment ideas. Hence the meaning of "liberty" or "freedom of trade" was radically transcended during the period of the rise of absolute monarchies with the emergence of fierce trade competition described by David Hume and others as "jealousy of trade", especially during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century. Until the Seventeenth century when somebody spoke of "freedom", or "liberty", of trade, it generally referred to what has been called "city" or "town policy" common during the Medieval period in Western Europe at least back to the Thirteenth century. Over time this interpretation however became increasingly challenged. The reasons for this are complex. The introduction of absolutist monarchies implied a powerful challenge to city freedom with dire consequences. Moreover monopolies held by powerful exclusive trading corporation and guilds led to protest and even rebellion by those excluded. Thus "freedom of trade" slowly changed from being a defence for "free" cities against the princely ruler or king to a slogan directed against the monopolies of rich and powerful exclusive merchant corporations. Instead "freedom of trade" became an integral part of state trade policies in the context of international rivalry for trade and markets in the 18th century. However, also this understanding of the concept became challenged during the same century by writers inspired by Natural rights discourse. Increasingly "freedom of trade" was regarded as a part of a natural system of individual liberty.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 49, 19-30 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-214637OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-214637DiVA: diva2:685205
Available from: 2014-01-09 Created: 2014-01-09 Last updated: 2014-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Magnusson, Lars

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