Originally published in the early s, Civilization traces the social and economic history of the world from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution, although his primary focus is Europe He died in Civilization and Capitalism, 15thth Century, Vol. II : The Wheels of Commerce. Fernand Braudel.
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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The subject of The Wheels of Commerce is the development of mechanisms of exchange—shops, markets, trade networks, and banking—in the pre-industrial stages of capitalism. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published December 23rd by University of California Press first published More Details Original Title.
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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Oct 22, Jan-Maat added it Shelves: 20th-century , early-modern-history , economic-history , read-in-translation. I bought Braudel's trilogy Civilisation and Capitalism years ago when I was a student through a book club a sure way to win friends among the postmen.
The cost of it would have been a small fortune to me at the time, but all the same it was something that I only raided rather than read for writing essays.
Which misses the point, because although you can dip in and out of the text the discussion develops slowly and rolls out like the tide. All three volumes are richly illustrated. The graphs ar I bought Braudel's trilogy Civilisation and Capitalism years ago when I was a student through a book club a sure way to win friends among the postmen. The graphs are my particular delight seeing as they were drawn up by hand in pre-computer days view spoiler [ I imagine, in truth I don't know hide spoiler ].
The experience of reading this volume is like standing on an elevation and looking out over a landscape while Braudel points out to you the ebb and flow of capitalism across it. There are Capitalist style modes of works like the extreme division of labour of the migrant labourers who would flood the countryside south of Rome every few years to sow a crop and then harvest lands which where otherwise turned over to pasture.
But that mode of production isn't consistent across time or space it was highly specific to the needs of how one very particular locality was managed. One way of thinking about this is colonialism. Patterns of work and finance colonised regions or sections of society. The agricultural produce of Poland or Portugal become exploited hinterlands, creating wealth for middlemen but serving the hunger and thirst of Amsterdam or London a geographical division of labour familiar to us today.
Nor was the spread of specialisation of production creating a modern looking, integrated economy accompanied by a less restricted social structure.
Quite the opposite. North of Venice and east of the Elbe landowners imposed serfdom, clamping down on individual liberties, obliging people to work to produce food stuffs, or to work in mines for export rather than for self-sufficiency again still familiar, our greater liberty obtained at the cost of some other persons unfreedom -truly there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Braudel, taking a longer view sees the transmission of bills of exchange, customs, forward selling and forms of commercial association from the Islamic world to Italy and then pulsing out into western and northern Europe.
From that elevation you see the fine lines of a world economy functioning at a high level with merchants connected from Antwerp to the far east dealing in small amounts of high value products like spices, silks and porcelain while much of the domestic market economy was much more simple.
Dealing in bulk products on the other hand mostly took place over shorter distances view spoiler [ the weight of bulk products ate up profits over distance hide spoiler ].
A good part of the study of history is unlearning the casual assumptions that we make about the world. It is easy to think that because in an atlas each country is clearly defined with a black border and blocked out in a single colour that each one is just as uniform and consistent within those borders as that chance colour and border imply.
The richness of details in this book that builds up from the ground corrects that. Braudel builds up a picture of a world of extreme depreciation. The wooden cog teeth in mills wear down fast. If a ship lasts for as long as twenty years it is doing well. It is also a world that was barely governed. As a schoolboy I wrote confidently about the annual incomes of the Kings of Spain little realising that my knowledge of the subject was more precise than theirs!
Successive rulers pushed the administration of southern Italy to produce budget forecasts which eventually they succeeded in doing - the only problem was that it took them about six years to complete the work because of the irregularities of the cash flows one problem was that each tax ran on its own financial year.
The pre-modern world was not uniform but a mess of local particularities. The difficulty of this book is looking out over this richly detailed landscape it is easy too lose sight of the argument, particular as this is something developing over three long volumes. There are key points that define the argument, perhaps ideally this is the kind of book that should be read with a dozen bookmarks or a notepad view spoiler [ here I was thinking of the paper thing, and spiral bound, no doubt a labour saving gadget notebook - the product of various people's unfreedom will do the job too hide spoiler ].
The discussion engages with economists and historians. It does occur to me that Braudel would have had a better understanding of the 18th century economy than Adam Smith, but in a dog in the forest way the perspectives developed by the economists still have to be engaged with. I'm also left with a desire to read Henri Pirenne. One book leads to the next. In this case though on to the final volume in the series The Perspective of the World.
Certainly one of the great books of our times. View all 17 comments. Aug 18, Sean Sullivan rated it liked it Shelves: economics , worldhistory. After a somewhat tedious first volume, where Braudel sets the stage for life and commerce in the period under discussion, volume two of Civilization and Capitalism really gets the ball rolling.
Or as much as anything ever gets rolling in a Braudel book. This is fascinating stuff, but it is not easy going. The language is straight forward, but Braudel wanders around his subject, giving us mountains of specifics and following various side currents to their ends. The basic point of the volume is to After a somewhat tedious first volume, where Braudel sets the stage for life and commerce in the period under discussion, volume two of Civilization and Capitalism really gets the ball rolling.
The basic point of the volume is to outline, first the difference between the market and capitalism, and then to trace the creation of capitalism in the markets centers of Europe between the 15th and 18th centuries. Unlike many historian of this period, Braudel is more concerned with the world of finance than the world of production, which I find fascinating and very useful for the thinking I am doing currently around the role of finance in the global economy of today.
If you care to know how the financiers of Amsterdam dealt with getting a ship in the ocean and bound for America or India, this is the place to look. While not being an economic determinist, economics is at the center of this book. Unlike many other economic historians, Braudel does take the time to deal with how culture there a section on fashion in the first volume!
They did not have the erudition he exhibits when taking about Western Europe. I found the book fascinating, and am looking forward now to starting the final volume, but I think Braudel could have done with some editing. This book is not going to lay out point by point the creation of capitalism for you. Aug 23, Brian rated it liked it Shelves: fall , owned-and-read.
I find this volume the most interesting, but I think this series as a whole could be very helpful to keep around as a reference. Pretty much any detail of life during this long time period is described and put in the context of the changes in socio-economic inequalities that constituted the emergence in capitalism.
Though in some ways Eurocentric, this is still more of a history of the whole world than just a history of Europe. Jan 23, AC rated it it was amazing Shelves: markets , early-modern , braudel-annales , great-divergence-world-system , 16thth-centuries. II, pp. Indeed, astonishingly, though the word appears in the s and in Proudhon, Marx never uses it; the word only gains currency after the Werner Sombert's use of it in Indeed, "capitalism was what it was only in relation to a non-capitalism of immense proportions", and not "in relation to new capitalist forms which were only to emerge in later times".
I don't deny that this book is difficult to read - not all of it is thrilling. But it is a book of such profound seriousness and depth that the interested reader will tackle it View all 3 comments. Feb 06, Jeanne Thornton rated it it was amazing. Exceedingly worth one's time. We build up from basic coats-for-gold economic exchanges to trade routes, fairs, corporate structures, sea voyages, bills of exchange, on into class mobility, the changing role of the quality of "nobility" over time, conditions under which capitalism can arise, and a clear key distinction between market economies and capitalism.
Excited and apprehensive about the third book, which I started today: so far the first two books have been mostly extended nonchronological Exceedingly worth one's time. Excited and apprehensive about the third book, which I started today: so far the first two books have been mostly extended nonchronological descriptions. Now Braudel moves into chronological narrative!
Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century: The Wheels of Commerce v. 2
Civilization and Capitalism. Volume Two. By Fernand Braudel. Translated by Sian Reynolds. In "The Wheels of Commerce," the second volume of his trilogy "Civilization and Capitalism," the noted French historian Fernand Braudel continues his examination of the background and nature of capitalism in its early, largely preindustrial stages. The first volume, "The Structures of Everyday Life," a wonderfully imaginative exploration of the worlds of rural production, housing, energy sources, fashion and money, was published in English in The third volume, which has not been translated, focuses on the growth of a world economy and its true begetters, the commercial centers of Venice and Amsterd am.
The Roots of Modern Capitalism
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