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Productivity In English Atlantic Shipping In The Seventeenth Century: Evidence From The Navigation Acts

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Chapter Summary

Dutch ambitions to engross all the trade 'not only of Christendom but of the entire known world' were a central theme of seventeenth century discourse. The innovation was to 'enumerate' the most valuable export commodities and require that they should be shipped direct to English or colonial port whatever the final destination. Anecdotal evidence has been used by Lawrence Harper and others to suggest that throughout the late seventeenth century Dutch shipping costs were around 30 per cent lower than those of the English and that the legislation forced trade into more expensive channels. In the decades after the Restoration, England went a long way towards meeting the aspirations of the Navigation Acts in creating a sealed self-contained English Atlantic system. English designs were well suited to Atlantic conditions and were produced at competitive cost.

Keywords: Dutch shipping costs; English Atlantic system; Navigation Acts; seventeenth century



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