The Merchant Republics (Lindemann)Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz
Our #retroconflictinspirations often link to our project’s big conceptual themes, from Zwierlein on ignorance, to Lantschner on logic, to Druckner and Olekalns on negotiation. But sometimes a concrete case can be just as illuminating. This morning’s #microreview is The Merchant Republics by Mary Lindemann. It traces the early modern histories of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Hamburg through the lens of the changing idea of the ‘merchant republic’.
The term derives from historical discourse, and it stretches back into our own late medieval period. The book explores how it came to intuitively denote a particular kind of polity. Not always economically reliant on its merchants but still led and culturally defined by them. Early modern (and medieval!) citizens of Antwerp, Hamburg, and Amsterdam fretted about their urban liberties and the decline of ‘burgher values'. Worries which offer key intellectual background for their conflict management strategies and other political behaviour. Lindemann’s study of the merchant republic concept through a delicate balance of the particular and the universal is compelling, and the book ends with the tantalizing question of why some cities kept identifying with Merchant Republican ideal so much longer than others.
You can get the book here