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To Trade or Not to Trade?: The Grain Trade

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Chapter Summary

The Austrian Netherlands, despite the relative success of various domestic manufacturing sectors (such as salt and cotton) and of the country's coal mining industry, remained an agrarian region during the eighteenth century. As grain has not always been the most popular topic amongst economic historians, it is worthwhile to set out a few facts about the use of grain in the eighteenth-century Southern Netherlands. Grain remained by far the primary source of nourishment for the inhabitants of the region. The sources' general discourse clearly emphasizes the importance of domestic food security. Every department was required to send annual reports concerning the success of the grain harvest and the level of grain prices. Grain exports played a leading role in international trade, though this role was less uniform or consistent than that of linen. Whereas export flows of linen were generally unwavering, those for grains shifted markedly from year to year.

Keywords: coal mining industry; domestic food security; eighteenth-century Southern Netherlands; grain trade; international trade



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