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The Coal Trade: A Motor for Development?

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Chapter Summary

In the Austrian Netherlands as well, the coal sector provides an exciting case study, especially because during the second half of the eighteenth century the commodity not only became intertwined with myriad other manufacturing activities in Western Europe but also developed into a hugely important sector in its own. Understanding the coal trade facilitates valuable new insights into trade in general and allows for a further broadened view on the economic transformations during the eighteenth century and the possible motors behind it. Great Britain, in the second half of the eighteenth century, was the first country to witness the nascent signs of the process that historians now label the Industrial Revolution. The Habsburg trade statistics offer significant assistance in determining the impact of coal on the eighteenth-century balance of trade. The author encounters considerable resemblances between the respective histories of the salt and the coal sectors in the Southern Netherlands.

Keywords: Austrian Netherlands; coal trade; Great Britain; Habsburg trade statistics; industrial revolution; salt sectors



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