Cataloguing Customs of Trade: Looking Behind the Labels (Amsterdam and Lyon, 1700-1730)

Project Details


The project aims at solving an old question: what were the informal rules of trade? Scholarship on the history of commercial law and trade customs has been disappointing in this regard, in that inductive approaches have not often been pursued and because assumptions and conclusions are commonly blended together. How to move beyond the current state of things? Citations of mercantile normative practices in court-related documents (pareres, attestations of customs, and pleadings) are the most fruitful for getting to know what merchants considered as binding themselves.

This approach has proven successful with regard to sixteenth-century Antwerp. The mentioned documents phrase the views of merchants, and the procedural context in which they were created, guarantees objectivity as to their reflecting of merchant-made rules. Court-related documents will be analysed that were produced before tribunals of two cities of commerce: Amsterdam and Lyon, and this for the period of the first three decades of the eighteenth century. The novelty of the project lies in considering them in their own right, against the background of several variables, and in comparing the references to customs for different cities of commerce.
Effective start/end date1/01/1631/12/19


  • Trade
  • Customs
  • metajuridica

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Modern and contemporary history


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