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The Dutch Miracle, Modified. Hugo Grotius's Mare Liberum, Commercial Governance and Imperial War in the Early-Seventeenth Century

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This paper examines the reception of Dutch commercial ideas and institutions in continental Europe during the first half of the seventeenth century. Using printed and archival sources from France, Sweden and Denmark, it argues that it is more useful to examine how statesmen and thinkers adapted Dutch material to different local circumstances and changing political conditions than to search for a mercantilist approach to political economy. Dutch arguments were particularly important, because they focused attentions upon the just and expedient relations between sovereignty and commerce. Replacing Hugo Grotius's Mare liberum in the contexts of the broader debate about the governance of commerce and of the politics of the Thirty Years War allows us to recover part of its further significance, for its polemical clarity allowed statesmen and scholars to refine more sharply their notion of commerce's relation to the state.


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