Most of the seventeenth century was marked by a worldwide depression: the “decline of Spain,” the decline of Italy and of the Ottoman Empire, the Thirty Years War in Germany. These developments, long treated as isolated phenomena and variously attributed to one or another specific and often noneconomic cause, are now being increasingly recognized by modern historiography to have been the mutually related processes of a single global crisis (Hobsbawm 1960). What is more, the crises and depression of the seventeenth century may—and should—be traced and related to the earlier economic expansion: the development of capital accumulation in the sixteenth century. It is clear that the depression of the seventeenth century followed the growth of the sixteenth century and brought the latter temporarily to a halt, but it has not yet generally been accepted that the general crisis of the seventeenth century must be interpreted as a necessary economic and political development—the consequence of the economic limitations of growth and accumulation in the previous sixteenth-century upswing.
KeywordsCapital Accumulation Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Economic Decline Overseas Trade
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