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Sources for the History of Eighteenth-Century International Trade

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Chapter Summary

The Habsburg rulers were extremely keen on gathering economic data; eventually preserving a huge amount of highly detailed and often standardized statistical and contextual information. This chapter determines how government policy was shaped by customs legislation and vice versa, and how different groups in society could advance their interests. Most of the sources on the international trade of the Austrian Netherlands are in the archive fund of the Finance Council, but important pieces are located in the funds of the Secretariat of State and War, of the auditor's office and within the collection of manuscripts. Nonetheless, combining the data from the customs statistics with those from the contextual sources facilitates an in-depth analysis of the evolutions of imports, exports and transit, of the influence of administrative measures in the individual sectors, and, more importantly, on the differentiated impact of international trade on all parties involved.

Keywords: Austrian Netherlands; customs legislation; eighteenth-century international trade; Habsburg customs statistics; trade policy



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