Blanchard I. (1986) The 16th-century European cattle trade

March 14, 2009

Blanchard, Ian (1986) “The Continental European Cattle Trades, 1400-1600”, The Economic History Review, 39/3, 427-460.



The European international cattle trade arose in the 1470s out of a “context of a network of regional markets” for locally grazed animals (p.428). Antwerp for instance drew its supplies mostly from Zealand and Holland. The diminutive livestock trade was limited to the Hungarian exports to Venice and some Rhenish towns (Frankfurt, Cologne; p.429). “As gold production recovered in Hungary during the second quarter of the 15th century, […] the economy was subject to the dual pressures of a hard exchange and an excessive money supply which caused its export products to be overpriced on international market and turned a previously strong balance of trade into a decidedly weak one” (p.430). The northern Polish (Breslau, Poznan, Gniezno) products partly replaced the Hungarian cattle after the 1420s, they were exported through the fair of Leipzig. The Hungarian solely retained the south European markets. Read the rest of this entry »

Cheesy business

March 12, 2009


I am presently in Morocco for research purposes. As the things were getting a bit slow in the last few days due to the public holiday meant to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet, I decided to indulge in my geekiness and I undertook a micro research. I am fascinated by the elegance of economic geography; I enjoy watching the market spread in space as much as others like to watch birds; so that’s just what I did, my Excel sheet in one hand and my binoculars in the other (for the birds, you never know). Read the rest of this entry »

Ó Gráda, C. (2005) Market and famines in pre-industrial Europe

February 7, 2009

Ó Gráda, Cormac (2005) “Market and famines in pre-industrial Europe”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 36/2, 143-166.


This article is available online


What caused famines during the premodern period? According to Adam Smith, the government involvement in the grain trade did. Today, many tend to blame the shortcomings of the market (poverty, speculation) for the pre-industrial dearths (p.143). Read the rest of this entry »

McCants A. (2008) The diffusion of tea and coffee drinking in the 18th-century Netherlands

January 26, 2009

McCants Anne E.C. (2008) “Poor consumers as global consumers: the diffusion of tea and coffee drinking in the eighteenth century”, Economic History Review, 61/S1, 172-200.



The 17th century saw the introduction of “foods would entirely eclipse the centrality of bread in the rituals of western sociability” (p.172). The idea of a consumer revolution may sound far fetched since the industry lacked the power to reshape the structure of demand and the colonial trade only accounted for 17% of the Dutch international trade at its peak in the 18th century (or 1% of GNP of western Europe and 10% of gross investment; p.173). So were colonial goods (tea, coffee, chocolate, tobacco and sugar), generally considered a significant part of the Industrious Revolution, as important as they are commonly thought to be? Read the rest of this entry »

Stouff L. (1969) Meat consumption in 15th century Provence

March 9, 2008

Stouff Louis (1969) “La viande. Ravitaillement et consommation à Carpentras au XVe siècle”, Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 24/6, 1431-1448.


Historians have shown that despite the image of the Middle Ages as a time of constant hunger, some regions at some periods avaided famine and even manage to feed their population regularly with meat. Germany in the 14th and 15th centuries for instance was under-populated, the best way to use the Wüstungen (deserted lands) was to have cattle grazing on them (in many places consumption close to 100kg per caput per year). This guaranteed a steady supply of meat. During the 16th century, on the other hand, inflation and demographic growth diminished the access the lower strata of the population had to a meat-based-diet. Read the rest of this entry »