In what way, the European and Eastern Merchant Community were different from each other? To what extent this difference was responsible for European colonialism in East? Discuss.

Published: June 29, 2020

The influence of the merchant class in European affairs led to the growth of mercantilism. Linked directly with capitalism, the mercantilist theory was based on the idea that money is the only form of wealth and that the object of trade is to export goods at the highest prices.

The rise of the merchant community in Europe was inextricably linked with the on-going process of colonialism. In most of Europe, the merchants were patronised by monarchs and the merchant class gradually won social prestige and state backing that was unequalled elsewhere in the world. It would be interesting to observe that in, China and India merchants were looked down as inferior and undesirable, whereas in north and Western Europe they had status and as, time passed, growing wealth and political power. Unlike as in China, Japan or India where governments were controlled by scholars, soldiers and local nobility respectively, merchants controlled governments in major parts of Europe. In short, there was a lust and opportunity for profit which was lacking elsewhere in the world and there was an impelling dynamism in Europe which others could not rival.

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