Brokering Commerce, Brokering Culture in Medieval Europe. The Low Countries and the German Hanse
(Peter Stabel) The Low Countries - 2007, № 15, pp. 36-43
Because the traditional trading mechanisms in medieval Europe collapsed in the first half of the fourteenth century, the overland routes and the Champagne fairs, which connected two very different systems of trade in Southern and Western Europe, were abandoned. Instead maritime trade took over. Italian and later Iberian merchants entered the Northern seas, while Flemish active trade disappeared from the British Isles, France, the Mediterranean and also the Baltic region. However, the growth of maritime trade also created new possibilities. In particular, Hanseatic trade profited. In trading cities such as Bruges and London, Hanseatic traders could meet with other merchants and develop close ties with the manufacturing capacity of North-West Europe (textiles, in particular Flemish and Brabant cloth). The concentration of international trade in a few cities reduced transaction costs and eased the development of and access to banking facilities. It also allowed a dramatic change in the structure of commercial firms, as merchants became more sedentary and started to rely more and more on agents.
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