Urban fortunes in Early Modern Period

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 25-05-18 10:37
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  • Urban fortunes in Early Modern Period (according to Penny Roberts)
    • Economic activity differed enormously between towns
      • according to size, location and type of trade or manufacture
      • Local, regional and national economies all had a part to play
        • Increasingly, national networks too
      • With opening up of trade routes with Africa, Asia and newly discovered Americas
        • Europe experienced shift of emphasis and prosperity away from Mediterranean towards Atlantic
          • some towns in positioned to benefit from trend
          • some towns declined because of trend
      • Other factors which affected urban fortunes:
        • growth of administrative centres
        • impact of war
    • While we see exponential urban growth overall throughout period, it is misleading to perceive this as a general, even usual, trend
      • estimated population of towns doubled between 1500 and 1800
      • De Vries and other scholars propose
        • different regional characteristic
      • Prak and other scholars argue:
        • stagnation was more characteristic
      • England and northern Netherlands were thus exceptional and precocious in their development
      • According to Epstein
        • Contrary to common perception, urbanisation can be seen as poor indicator of economic development
          • if we compare Castile and England for instance, suggesting political protection rather than market pressure was decisive factor in growth (and decline) of many an early modern town
      • Continuing significance of certain hindrances to urban growth prevented towns from realising their full potential
        • except in Dutch case
        • poor infrastructure
        • especially slow and cumbersome transport of goods by water or road
        • high transaction and customs costs in between (and especially within) countries
    • Ports, overseas trade and dominant economies
      • beginning of period witnessed growth of Iberian port cities of Lisbon and Seville
        • due to burgeoning trade with Asia and with the Americas
      • Rise of French Atlantic ports, and later, Bristol and Liverpool with increase in slave trade
      • Mediterranean trade did not dry up
        • Italian ports
          • especially Venice and Genoa
          • still prosperous at least through C16th
          • supplemented by important Italian banking houses
      • French ports
        • southern port of Marseille
          • increasingly active in commerce
        • city of Lyon (not a port)
          • thrived due to its position at hub of European trade  and development of its banking facilities
      • Italy, cities of Lisbon and Antwerp
        • economy (of Italy) and prosperity (of cities) in clear decline in C17th
          • due to being eclipsed by growing economic dominance of Dutch
      • growing economy of Dutch
        • Spectacular rise of Amsterdam
          • population of over 200,000 c. 1650
          • as entrepot or storehouse through which goods from all over known world would flow
        • Dutch increasingly dominated trade routes
          • through Mediterranean
          • out to Atlantic
          • lucrative carrying trade into Baltic
        • established financial dominance with founding of first national bank in 1609
          • London bank was not est. until 1690s with Hamburg only other competitor at that point
        • Dutch only displaced later in C17th
          • Principally by England but also by France
            • they became dominant economic and political powers of Europe
    • More subtle developments within regions
      • Hanseatic League
        • confederation of North European town such as Lubeck
        • towns in their heyday had dominated Baltic trade
        • began to decline by 1500
      • shift of economic prosperity south towards centres like Augsburg and Nuremberg
        • followed by further readjustments due to impact of Thirty Years War (1618-48)
      • After Thirty Years War
        • imperial success stories were strategically placed towns of Hamburg and Danzig, alongside growing administrative centres like Berlin
      • Being strategically placed and administrative centre also contributed to rapid growth of Madrid
        • established seat of government in Spain in mid-C16th
          • displaced older centres in Castile
      • Hague in Netherlands
        • new administrative rather than commercial centre
      • In Paris. France
        • population of Paris more than doubled to over 500,000
        • creation of Versailles from 1680s
          • Louis XIV's court was great consumer, encouraging urban (and rural) growth in vicinity
      • decline of Prague
        • as Bohemia was absorbed into Hasburg Austrian orbit
      • Growth of Rome
        • greater focus on town planning as period proceeded led to demolition of medieval walls and opening up of boulevards
      • In other, declining towns, populations retreated within their walls

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