The Mercantilist Mind in Seventeenth-Century Portugal

  • Carl A. Hanson


Portuguese mercantilist thought usually ran parallel to, if somewhat behind, that of the rest of western Europe. During the seventeenth century, Portuguese writers joined in the general movement away from so-called bullionism toward attempts at describing how a favorable balance of trade could be created through appropriate commercial policy.1 (Bullionism was the simplistic belief that national wealth could be increased merely by accumulating precious metals and maintained by preventing their export.) During the last third of that century, Portuguese mercantilist writers and policy makers gave increased attention to improving the balance of trade by encouraging domestic manufacturing. This effort was primarily inspired by the example of French manufacturing. The aim of preserving and increasing the supply of bullion, however, had not changed. The approaches to this end only became more sophisticated. Though the mercantilist mind in Portugal was in the mainstream of European economic thought, its thinking was quite naturally conditioned by the problems, limitations, and potentialities of the Portuguese economy.


Internal Development Precious Metal Seventeenth Century Trading Company National Wealth 
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© University of Minnesota 1981

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  • Carl A. Hanson

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