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The Textile Trade: A Tradition in Decay?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter confirms that the textiles available to eighteenth-century consumers in the Austrian Netherlands, as in other Western European regions, still ranged from the traditional to the highly innovative. Most of these textiles were products of the dynamic domestic textile industry, which, in the eighteenth century, remained the country's most important manufacturing sector. The domestic textile industry continued to hold this standing, despite the deficiency of the Habsburg industrial policy (with its many monopolies) and the fact that it had lost its position as a leading export sector, owing to some of its products no longer being sought after abroad. Nonetheless, the final conclusion concerning the impact of international trade on the textile sector hardly casts the sector in a grim light. The chapter presents evidence that international competition exerted more than just negative pressure on the region.

Keywords: Austrian Netherlands; eighteenth-century textile sector; Habsburg industrial policy; international trade; Western European regions



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