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A declining economy: Central and northern Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

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Chapter Summary

Italy’s economy continued to prevail on the European scene at least until the end of sixteenth century. Only at the beginning of the seventeenth century did a crisis striking first of all industrial and commercial urban activities the advanced Italian economic sectors set the peninsula in a backward position relative to the rapidly developing, more dynamic economies of Northern Europe. This chapter outlines the Italian economy during the Spanish centuries. It looks at the economy in the age of the Spanish hegemony and will neglect the theme, dear to past historians, of the economic influence of this hegemony. The chapter examines demographic movement, the cities and urban activity, the trend of production and productivity in the countryside, and prices and labor incomes. From these measures, it will be possible to confront, in the end, the problem of per capita product and to propose a general explanation for movement of the Italian economy.

Keywords: demographic movement; Italian economy; labor incomes; production trend; Spanish hegemony; urban activity



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