The Business Community of Seventeenth-Century England

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This uniquely comprehensive study explores all aspects of the English business community as it developed between 1590 and 1720. Drawing on largely untapped records of private firms as well as on institutional archives, Richard Grassby describes and explains the economic and technical structure of business in a pre-industrial economy and examines the ways in which social values, demographic factors, the family, the state and religion distributed talent, trained and motivated businessmen and determined their life style. The important conclusion which emerges from his study is that individual initiative and a fluid social structure largely account for differences in response to economic opportunities between England and other pre-industrial societies. His book offers an empirically based analysis of why men entered business, how they lived and worked and what they achieved, and it will appeal to all who wish to understand the dynamics of pre-industrial growth and the interaction between business and society.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Grassby, author of important articles and a recent biography of Sir Dudley North, has produced a masterwork. He has read in astonishing breadth (from sources that require 175 pages to list) and reconstructs 17th-century life in all its detail....the book immediately becomes the standard source for specialist and student alike....[Grassby's] research on this topic may never be equaled....Essential for graduate libraries and those serving upper-division undergraduates." Choice

"...this book offers useful and often insightful discussions of the socioeconomic status of commercial and industrial enterprise, of the character and patterns of business as a career, and of the various styles of life lived by businessmen in the period. On these subjects, it is filled with valuable information and much common sense." David Harris Sacks, The Journal Economic History

"...Grassby's is an argument that all students of seventeenth-century society will have to read." James M. Rosenheim, Albion

"In this monumental book, Grassby has fashioned no less than a total history...of the business community of early modern England. ...those historians who deplore the congratulatory mode...will benefit from the enormous amount of research in which Grassby has engaged. Nevertheless, this volume constitutes the best description and analysis of an English business community yet written." Douglas R. Bisson, The Historian

"...the book is engaging and enjoyable to read and should convert anyone who still believes business is boring." Nuala Zahedieh, Jrnl of Modern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521434508
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2014
  • Pages: 645
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations
Explanatory notes
Introduction: Questions and sources 1
Pt. 1 Business as a career
1 The status of business 29
2 Obstacles to entry 53
3 Funding and risk 82
4 Necessity and choice 108
Pt. 2 Paths to fortune
5 The pattern of recruitment 139
6 Skills and motivation 171
7 Politics and government 204
8 The measure of success 234
Pt. 3 Life styles
9 Religion and ethics 271
10 Family structure 302
11 Consumption and leisure 334
12 A symbiotic culture 364
Conclusion: Private enterprise in a pre-industrial economy 395
Bibliography 419
Index 595
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