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The History of Commerce in Europe


THE chief defect of this little book is that the author does not bring into sufficient prominence the geographical element in commercial history. What are the geographical conditions which have favoured the growth of particular industries in special localities? And in what ways have such conditions affected the interchange of commodities between one part of the world and another? Mr. Gibbins has not, of course, neglected these questions, but he scarcely seems to have realized that they are of vital importance for the scientific presentation of his subject. On the other hand, his appreciation of the action of historical causes in the development of commerce is excellent; and for a general view of commercial progress his manual will be of much service to students. After an introductory chapter he considers “ancient commerce,” by which he means the commerce of the Phœnicians, the Carthaginians, and the Greek colonies. He then deals with the ancient Greek States and Rome as trading communities. Next comes “mediæval commerce,” in connection with which he has much that is interesting to say about the Italian cities, the Hansa towns, mediæval trade routes and fairs, the manufacturing centres of Europe, and other topics. Under “modern commerce he treats of the commercial empires in the East, the commercial empires in the West, English commerce from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, European commerce in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the industrial revolution in England and the Continental wars (1793), modern English commerce, and the development of commerce in France, Germany, Holland, Russia, and the other European States. The maps are very good, and add considerably to the value of the text. We may also note that the volume includes a useful series of questions on the various chapters, and two appendices, in one of which there is a list of British produce and manufactures in 1840 and 1889, while the other consists of a table showing the present colonial empires of European Powers.

The History of Commerce in Europe.

By H. de B. Gibbins. With Maps. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891.)

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The History of Commerce in Europe. Nature 44, 222 (1891).

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