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Market Integration

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Chapter Summary

This chapter assesses instances of market integration in high and late medieval Europe. Its examination of the Sicilian-Maltese grain trade in the fifteenth century challenges the assumption that royal policies necessarily facilitated regional market integration. The chapter suggests that the extent to which urban demand in the late Middle Ages was responsible for opening commodity markets and lowering the costs of trade was in part limited by conflicts of interests within individual towns. It invokes the economic geographers’ concept of “central place” to sharpen one’s understanding of the function of thirteenth-century Ypres as a credit market integrated into wider economic flows in Flanders, northern France and at the Champagne fairs. The chapter reviews the economic factors at play in the southern Low Countries during the fifteenth century, arguing that the high degree of market integration observed by historians in the sixteenth century was by no means an inevitable outcome.

Keywords: commercial credit; commodity market; Flanders; late medieval Europe; market integration; Sicilian-Maltese grain trade; southern low country; thirteenth-century Ypres



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