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Chapter Summary

When Brazil began to produce sugar for European markets after 1550, sugar was already a proven moneymaker for merchants who had been shipping it for decades. In the subsequent eight decades, Brazilian sugar would come to dominate the market, and although production in Brazil rose steadily during this time, markets grew as well, evidenced by the high profitability of sugar throughout these years in wholesale markets. The early modern European states that benefited from the sugar trade taxed it, but generally left it free. The greatest demand for sugar was in the Low Countries, and the political rebellions that broke out there in the 1550s could not help but affect the rhythms of the trade. During a pause in the Eighty Year War, free trade blossomed between Portugal and the Dutch Republic. This book suggests that mercantilism in the creation of the Atlantic world was generally more normative than descriptive.

Keywords: Atlantic world; Brazilian sugar; Dutch Republic; European markets; mercantilism; Portugal



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