The historical framework of the emergence of capitalism



Considerations on the decomposition of European feudalism.

The decomposition of European feudalism released the elements for the emergence of capital as the dominant social relationship. Karl Marx summed it up this way: “The rise of the capitalist represents a victory over masters and lords, against corporations and manors. Man could now be freely exploited. The process that produced the wage-earner and the capitalist has its roots in the subjection of the worker. The expropriation of the rural producer, the peasant, who was thus deprived of his land, formed the basis of the entire process. By the end of the fourteenth century, serfdom had virtually disappeared from England.[I] Once this condition was fulfilled, the way was paved for others. The growth of a social group that depended entirely on its salary, reduced and miserable, provoked the first confrontations of this group with the bourgeoisie, the most dynamic sector of the new economy in progress.

The revolt of those exploited by the new production system, which manifested itself early on, however, failed to open up its own societal perspective. In medieval Florence, in 1344, the most impoverished sector of society, the ciompi, led by Ciuto Brandini, staged a rebellion to establish a corporation to represent them. Called “thin people”, they were a social layer composed of small ruined merchants and agrarian workers, who had come from the countryside to the cities to satisfy the need for cheap labor. With the failure of his first rebellion, the Florentine social situation was aggravated by the “war of the eight saints”, begun in 1375, in which Florence and several Italian cities confronted each other against the Papal States, a war that resulted in the defeat of the cities and a fine against Florence, where the guild of artisans rebelled against the bankers and large merchants who held power in the city, a revolt that received the support of the ciompi, who took control of the situation.

In July 1378, the ciompi occupied the Palazzo Vecchio to demand the right of association and participation in public life, achieving the recognition of three new corporations, which came to represent the popular classes (the “people of God”): that of the ciompi, tailors and dyers. The government headed by Di Lando, main leadership ciompi, saw growing demands from the popular strata, such as the cancellation of debts, and, on the other hand, the resistance of the richest. The city's new leader aligned himself with the richest to repress popular protests. A fierce battle ensued between the ciompi and the larger guilds, led by the butcher guild: the ciompi and their allies were massacred by the other corporations, in a bloody journey.[ii]

According to Karl Marx, this and similar revolts failed "not only because of the embryonic state of the proletariat itself, but also because of the absence of the material conditions for its emancipation, which only arise as a product of the bourgeois epoch".[iii] These conditions were generated surprisingly quickly.

The secret of original capitalist accumulation consisted in the fact that “money and merchandise are not capital from the outset, any more than are the means of production and subsistence. They require to be transformed into capital. But this transformation could only take place under coincidental circumstances: it was necessary for two very different classes of commodity owners to come into contact with each other; on the one hand, the owners of money, means of production and subsistence, who are responsible for valuing, through the acquisition of someone else's labor power, the sum of value which they have appropriated; on the other hand, free workers, sellers of their own labor power and, therefore, sellers of labor”. The original accumulation of capital was the birth of capitalist society at the same time as a process of dissolution of pre-capitalist relations of production.

The ways of the dissolution of the Old Regime, and of the original accumulation of capital, that is, the historical premises of capitalism, were constituted by the ruin and compulsory expropriation of peasants and artisans, which created the free labor force, and by the accumulation of monetary capital on the part of the urban bourgeoisie, the possession of “large amounts of capital” by a differentiated and minority sector of society, whatever its prior origin. It was from England, where this process advanced most rapidly, that the economic trends of capitalism spread to other countries. For this, however, it was necessary that primitive accumulation, based on state-organized violence, theft, commercial deceit and usurious finance, be transformed into full capitalist accumulation, based on the universal exchange of equivalent values ​​and on the accumulation and reproduction increased capital. Let us see the opportunity for this process, simultaneously economic and political.

The first bourgeoisie, who rebelled against the Church in the cities in the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, did not decisively alter Europe's mode of production, as they were still part of the reproduction parameters of the feudal system.[iv] The fights for urban autonomies against the ecclesiastical authorities exhibited and gave rise to a wide repertoire of movements that brought them closer to religious heresies. Things changed in successive centuries. After a transitory economic retreat in Europe in the 1347th century, the continent's commercial recovery experienced a spectacular leap from the middle of the XNUMXth century. The destructive Black Death was a dynamic factor in the economy and in mercantile relations. The plague entered Europe via Sicily in XNUMX, brought by Genoese merchants fleeing a siege by Hungarian-Mongol troops (carriers of the disease) in Crimea, quickly eliminating half the population of the Italian island.

It spread across Northern Italy in 1348, when it also reached North Africa. At the end of that year, the plague reached France and the Iberian countries. In 1349, progressing at the rate of ten kilometers a day, it reached Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and England: “Numerous cities adopted strict quarantine measures. Not only Lucca and Pisa were infected, neighboring Pistoia forbade all its citizens who were visiting or on business in affected cities to return home, and also banned the importation of wool and linen”.[v]

The plague decimated between a quarter and a half of the European population, that is, between 25 and 40 million people. Half of European agricultural workers died: “Survivors saw a huge increase in their wages, as they now had the possibility to bargain for services with city dwellers, who desperately needed the food that only serfs produced… The disease killed people, but did not damage the property. Everything the dead had owned now belonged to others. The survivors' newfound wealth launched them into one of the greatest spending rages in history.

The last 25 years of the XNUMXth century were a time of prosperity. The excessive consumerism was fueled by the relaxation of morals that followed the epidemic. When we are surrounded by death, it is not easy to impose rules on family, neighbors, or subjects.”[vi] Whoever says consumption says trade, therefore money and therefore precious metals. At this stage, capitalism was still identified with commercial capital, dominant in Europe from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century, a period in which the European merchant bourgeoisie systematically began to seek wealth outside Europe.

Merchants were looking for gold, silver, spices and raw materials not found on European soil: financed by kings, nobles and bankers, they began a cycle of exploration whose main objective was enrichment through the accumulation of capital, the search for commercial profits ; there was, for this, increasing use of salaried labor, with currency replacing the old system of exchanges, banking and financial relations, strengthening the economic power of the bourgeoisie. It was in the XNUMXth century that the process of primitive accumulation of capital accelerated in England, where there was legislation that froze the value of the lands of the nobility: the nobility weakened economically, since the price of what they consumed rose, while their income remained the same .

Between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, the urban movements of revolt continued, now led by wealthy sectors that tried to obtain a place in the patriciate to participate in the government of the cities. Alongside these struggles, social upheavals of a different nature emerged which, for the first time, questioned the dominant feudalism. They were led by primitive entrepreneurs and paralleled peasant struggles. The final takeoff of the new mode of production took place in the second half of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth century, mainly in England and the Low Countries.

In the south of England, the progressive 'gentry', the gentleman,[vii] did not engage in the parasitism of the State and began to dedicate itself to the production of wool for the new and auspicious fabric industry aimed at the internal and external market, which was at the root of the land enclosures, enclosures, to guarantee land for the growing herds that supply the industry's raw material. The formation process of a capitalist bourgeoisie with national presence and dimensions required other conditions. The intertwining of the economic interests of this nobility from the South with the manufacturing and commercial bourgeoisie from the North was due to the bourgeois origin of the fraction that had entered the gentleman through the purchase of confiscated lands and titles of nobility. The enclosures of the XNUMXth century were accompanied by the spread of large textile manufacturing in the rural area, far from the obstacles to its expansion inherent to the rigid rules of craft corporations in the cities. Thus, the so-called “domestic system” of textile manufacturing flourished..

In England, in addition to this, the availability and possibility of a profitable exploitation of monetary capital coincided with an initial state impetus for the larger scale use of innovations and technical discoveries. Along with this, England now has a more complete, comprehensive and connected financial system, with the creation of the Bank of England, in London - a bank founded in 1694 by the Scotsman William Paterson, initially as a private bank - which started to centralize national finances , translating the advance of the English bourgeoisie after the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688.

English commercial capital, the great protagonist of this process, originated less in the growth of external demand and in trade with the colonies than in the expansion of internal trade. In the countryside, in turn, the changes in property relations were preceded by the agrarian revolution, the “revolution of the rich against the poor”, and by the growth of the peasant population, caused by the exploitation of available land through more intensive cultivation methods. The Netherlands, on the other hand, became a crossroads maritime and commercial activity of continental reach with the sacking of the Belgian port of Anvers by the Spaniards. As a result, Amsterdam became the “shop of Europe”, with the first “modern” merchandise and stock exchanges.

The period between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries was called the “era of mercantilism”, a concept associated with the worldwide geographical exploration of the “Age of Discoveries” and the exploration of new territories by merchants, especially from England and the Netherlands; also with the European colonization of the coasts of Africa and the Americas and with the rapid growth in the foreign trade of European countries. Mercantilism was “a number of economic theories applied by the state at one time or another in an effort to acquire wealth and power.

Spain was the richest and most powerful country in the world in the XNUMXth century. The explanation for this lay in the exploitation of gold and silver”.[viii] It was a system based on the defense of profit-making trade, although goods were still produced based on a non-capitalist mode of production; O bullying stressed the importance of accumulating precious metals. The term derives from the English bullion: gold in small ingots; also called metalism, by the economic theory that quantified and hierarchized wealth through the amount of precious metals owned.

Mercantilists argued that the state should export more goods than it imported, so that foreign countries would have to pay the difference in precious metals: only raw materials that could not be extracted at home should be imported. Mercantilism promoted subsidies and the concession of commercial monopolies to groups of entrepreneurs, as well as protective tariffs, to encourage the national production of manufactured goods. European businessmen, supported by state controls, subsidies, and monopolies, made most of their profits from buying and selling goods.

According to Francis Bacon, the aim of mercantilism was “the openness and balance of commerce, the appreciation of manufacturers, the banishment of idleness, the repression of waste and excess of law, the improvement and management of the soil; price regulation.[ix] During this period, the reborn state replaced local corporations as the regulator of the economy. Schumpeter reduced mercantilist propositions to three main concerns: exchange control, export monopoly and trade balance. These processes had Western Europe as their fundamental stage, especially England, the center of primitive capitalist accumulation and, later, a worldwide irradiation point for the new mode of production. Let's see its main reasons.

Primitive capitalist accumulation in England developed from two linked assumptions: the concentration of a large amount of resources (mainly money and land) in the hands of a small sector of society; and the formation of a contingent of individuals who were compulsorily dispossessed of communally owned land (through dispossession and enclosures, carried out by the alliance of the nascent bourgeoisie with the gentleman and with the English absolutist state) who, therefore, were forced to sell their labor power to survive.

The realization of these conditions had nothing of automatism or economic rationalization: “Classical political economists were unwilling to rely on market forces to determine the social division of labor because they found the tenacity of traditional rural producers to be very unpleasant. Rather than advocating that market forces should determine the fate of these small-scale producers, classical political economy called for state interventions of one kind or another to undermine these people's ability to produce in response to their own needs.

Its policy recommendations amount to a flagrant manipulation of the social division of labor. We cannot justify such policies in terms of efficiency. If efficiency were of great importance to them, classical political economists would not have ignored the law that allowed nobles ('gentry') to cross small farmers' fields in pursuit of foxes, while forbidding farmers to rid their lands of wildlife. wild able to eat the crops. These laws destroyed a huge portion of agricultural production”.[X]

Exchange of goods, markets, technological progress, existed before capitalism, and were as developed or more than in Europe in other parts of the world. Modern capitalism expanded, however, in sixteenth-century Europe, starting from a country that was neither especially rich nor densely populated, England. Its beginnings were located in the countryside, specifically in the changes in social property relations and the loss of political power of the nobility, which led to a new type of market. Markets have existed almost forever, but pre-capitalist markets did not depend on extracting surplus value from producers: they depended on the movement of goods, especially luxury goods, from one region to another. They offered enrichment opportunities for Dutch or Florentine merchants; did not, however, drive any or almost no increase in productivity, not conditioning production.

English agrarian capital was the creator of modern landed property, responsible for promoting the dissolution of relationships of honor, tradition and “personal” bond with the land, replaced by mere economic interest and transforming it into merchandise. Economic interest in land occurs when it is possible to earn land rent. It was in sixteenth-century England that a market began to emerge that inexorably imposed an increase in land productivity. In that country, land ownership was in the hands of great lords, who rented it to sharecroppers and partners.

The political power of the nobility had diminished, to the benefit of the monarchy, which prevented landlords from extracting new benefits from exploiting peasants by force or by imposing taxes. Land ownership, however, gave them economic power. Traditional fixed rents were being replaced by rents determined by the market, based on what peasants could pay, or what they could pay by improving their productivity.

These new relations between lords and peasants created a unique situation in England. The economic and social formation of Portugal, the sesmaria, for example, was not typically feudal, as its roots were not linked to an archaic past or a result of servile relationships. The Crown concentrated a large part of the land and granted its domain conditional on use, without, however, opening gaps for the process of creating modern territorial property as a prerequisite for the formation of the labor market, stimulating the transition to capitalism.

In England, on the other hand, the usurpation of land was conducted by the landed nobility, supported by the capitalists, who aimed to transform the land into a commodity, making it possible to expand the area of ​​agricultural exploitation and intensify the process of proletarianization of the peasants. In that country, land concentration was legitimized by the State; the Crown was responsible for the alienation of state lands to private individuals. The process of expropriation of peasants and land concentration was sanctioned using the law and the force and violence of the State.

The formation of the bourgeois pole of English society was possible thanks to the riches accumulated by traders from the African slave trade, from colonial looting, from the private appropriation of common peasant lands, from the protection of national manufactures, and from the confiscation and /or sell Church land at a low price. Original accumulation thus intertwined internal and external processes of economies in a state of spasmodic expansion.

Classical economists did not see original accumulation from this angle, as they could not go beyond appearances: they identified capital with money and, in other cases, with the means of production (fixed capital): hence they thought that capitalism ( whatever they called it) had existed since man managed to make the first instruments of work. Adam Smith, when he studied the previous accumulation he referred exclusively to the accumulation of money and instruments of work in the hands of the capitalists, without paying attention to the compulsory expropriation of the majority of the population. Now, at other times in history, it was possible to accumulate large amounts of money in a few hands, but this did not give rise to capitalism, a system in which the accumulation of money was based on a new type of production relations.

Manufacturing, a growing substitute for handicrafts in the cities, was a consequence of the expansion of consumption, which led the producer to increase production, and the merchant to dedicate himself to industrial production as well. It also resulted from increased trade in base money, replacing direct exchange. With manufacturing, there was an increase in labor productivity, due to the technical division of production in the industrial establishment, where each worker performed a step in the manufacture of a single product. The expansion of the consumer market was directly related to the expansion of trade, both internally and towards the East or America.

Another feature was the emergence of direct interference by the trader in the production process, starting to buy raw materials and determine the pace of production. The process that created the capitalist system consisted in transforming the social means of subsistence and production into capital, and converting direct producers into wage earners. This already happened, to a limited extent, in the Italian coastal cities, in Flanders and in England; in the early fourteenth century, however, the benefits of the capitalist sector of the economy still came mostly from trade and finance, not manufacturing or industry.

The genesis of the agrarian capitalist went through a metamorphosis that started with the serf foreman, passing through the “free tenant” and the “sharecropper”, until concluding in the “tenant proper”, who already had his own capital, hired salaried workers and paid rent, in cash or in kind, to the landowner. The genesis of the tenant developed in England from its primitive stage in the bailiff (of lease: contract), still a serf, undergoing its replacement, during the second half of the XNUMXth century, by the colonist.

The settler soon became a partner, who also disappeared to make way for the tenant, who sought to expand his capital by employing wage laborers and handed over to the landlord a part of the surplus product, in money or in products, as ground rent. The English capitalist tenant farmer thus emerged from the serf ranks of the Middle Ages. Maurice Dobb accentuated this aspect, when he stated that the embryos of capital were in the small mercantile production of agrarian base that still existed in feudalism, in the economy of small separate and relatively autonomous producers, still submitted by extra economic mechanisms (mainly religious and military) to the lords feudal. As the peasants achieved emancipation from feudal exploitation, through revolts against the lords and conditions that favored them (such as the plagues that made the workforce scarce, and therefore more valued), they could keep for themselves larger shares of their production, amass a small surplus, use their profits to improve cultivation, and accumulate some capital.[xi]

Some of these peasants became rich and began to use the labor of others to accumulate capital and, progressively, to pay their servile obligations to the feudal lords in cash, in the form of a rent for the use of the land. Thus, capitalist tenant farmers (who leased land from the rural aristocracy and passed on a portion of their profits to them in the form of rent for their use) were consolidating at the same time as the multiplication of salaried rural workers, who made up a market for workforce as well as an expanding consumer market, accelerating the move to a general money economy.

The English sixteenth century marked the rise of the capitalist tenant farmer, who grew rich as quickly as the rural population became poor. The usurpation of pastures, long-term leases, inflation and continuous depreciation of precious metals (the “price revolution” of the XNUMXth century), the lowering of wages, the continuous rise in prices of agricultural products, and that had to be paid to landlord, fixed by the old monetary value, were the factors responsible for the emergence of the tenant class that was strengthened by the increase in monetary circulation.

Price inflation favored new economic and social relations, intensified the dispute between merchants and lords and provided new functions for the State: “In the XNUMXth century, gold and silver circulating in Europe increased as a result of the discovery in America of more rich and easy to explore. The value of gold and silver fell relative to other commodities. Workers continued to receive the same sum of money in metal as payment for their work force; the price of their labor in money remained stable, but their wages fell, as they received a smaller sum of goods in return for the same money. This was one of the circumstances that favored the increase of capital and the rise of the bourgeoisie in the sixteenth century”.[xii]

The currency and its circulation became a field of dispute between competing economic sectors. In 1558, Thomas Gresham, financial agent to Queen Elizabeth I, wrote that "bad money drives out good", and noted that if two coins had identical legal value but different metal content, those with a higher density of noble metal would be treasured. , which would harm commercial circulation.

The new commercial bourgeoisie and the money changers and bankers were the embryonic elements of the new economic system, based simultaneously on profit, on the accumulation of wealth, on the control of production systems and on the permanent expansion of business. Parallel and complementary, violent conflicts eliminated the communitarian elements of European rural life: “The implementation of the 'market society' emerged as a confrontation between classes, between those whose interests were expressed in the new political economy of the market and those who contested it, placing the right to subsistence above the imperatives of profit”.[xiii]

The expropriation of the peasants from their means of subsistence brought about the ruin of rural domestic industry, giving rise to urban industry and with it the industrial capitalist. For these, an internal market emerged due to the ruin of domestic industry, linked to rural production. Thus, with the dissociation of workers from their means of production, capitalism also guaranteed the existence of industry.

The capitalist revolution, which would obtain its definitive victory with urban industry, thus had its origin in economic and social changes in the countryside: “A general increase in agricultural [monetary] incomes represents an increase in the incomes of the majority of the population; technological change in agriculture affects most producers; a drop in the price of agricultural products tends to lower the cost of raw materials for non-agricultural sectors and of foodstuffs for wage earners in general”.[xiv] The agricultural revolution, accompanied by the growth of capitalist industry, brought with it an increase in the exploitation of labor and a rise in the number of people excluded from property, providing the reserve of labor that modern industry needed for its existence and expansion.

The origin of the industrial capitalist, on the other hand, was not restricted to guild masters, craftsmen and salaried workers who became capitalists through the expanded exploitation of wage labor: it also encompassed rural capitalists and merchants transformed into industrial entrepreneurs. The structuring center of the bourgeois pole of the new society in gestation constituted the genesis of the industrial capitalist. The gradual and progressive transformation of masters, independent craftsmen, former serfs of the land, into capitalists, however, was too slow a method for capital accumulation. The methods used in the original accumulation skipped steps, driven by the comprehensive character of the new economic process. English merchants invested capital in the East India Companies and other overseas ventures, promoted and protected by the state.

The fundamental economic changes, however, were internal. England was the first country to break with non-commercial agricultural production systems, reducing subsistence culture and doing away with common lands (commons). The first capitalists helped transform land into an article of commerce: “The violence that seizes common lands, followed as a rule by the transformation of crops into pastures, begins at the end of the XNUMXth century and continues into the XNUMXth century. The progress of the eighteenth century consists in having made law the vehicle for the theft of land belonging to the people. Robbery takes the parliamentary form given to it by the laws relating to the enclosure of common lands, which are decrees of expropriation of the people”. Land ceased to be a natural condition for production and became a commodity.

In the same country, a parliamentary coup was necessary to turn common lands into private property: “The systematic theft of common lands, combined with the theft of Crown lands, contributed to increasing those large leases, called, in the eighteenth century, farms of capital or commercial farms”. Workers were expelled from their lands and forced to look for jobs in cities. As Marx recalled: “In the nineteenth century, memory of the connection that existed between agriculture and common land was naturally lost. The last major process of expropriation of peasants is finally the so-called land clearing, which consists of sweeping away human beings. All English methods culminated in this cleansing.”

The land, previously populated by workers, was now pasture for sheep: “A human being is worth less than a sheepskin”, said a popular saying. The “cleansing of property” spread across Europe: “The theft of church property, the fraudulent alienation of state domains, the theft of common lands, and the transformation of feudal and clan property into modern private property, carried out with implacable terrorism, are among the idyllic methods of primitive accumulation”.[xv] These methods incorporated land into capital and provided the city's industry with the necessary supply of proletarians (those who only had their offspring).[xvi] The formation process of the dispossessed classes, future proletarians of the capitalist industry, was violent and compulsory, and for nothing “natural”.

The men who were expelled from the lands with the dissolution of feudal vassalages were not absorbed, in the same proportion and with the same speed, by industrial, domestic or commercial work. In this process, and in the struggles between artisans and their guilds, some artisans became rich at the expense of others who lost their means of work. Those who “lost” only kept their workforce and became proletarians, those who won managed to accumulate resources for new investments.

In this unstable and violent social framework, in England in the XNUMXth century, production techniques evolved, wool production expanded and the country prepared itself for the process that, two centuries later, would culminate in the Industrial Revolution. International trade induced the expansion of sheep farming and, with the expropriation of land, the lords expanded their creation on a large scale, which only needed a few people employed in the vast pastures of the large properties. Wool was used in manufactures, in the manufacture of fabrics and other textile products. With the growth of the wool market, the sheep herds also grew, initially limited by the royal authorities, which determined a maximum of two thousand heads per breeder.

With the expulsion of the serf-peasants, they went to the cities in search of work: the cities could not employ all the newly unemployed, who were thus driven to theft and begging. The flourishing of Flemish wool manufacture, and the consequent rise in prices, encouraged the transformation of crops into sheep pasture, creating the need to expel most peasants from their lands.

To “remedy” unemployment and its consequences, the “poor laws” were enacted, which appeared in England at the end of the XNUMXth century and during the XNUMXth century, and later in other countries. They were a direct consequence of the social transformations resulting from the exploitation of natural resources in the “New World” and the opening of new consumer markets, which favored the expansion of trade and manufacturing industry. The English rural population, expropriated and expelled from their lands, compelled to vagrancy, was framed in the discipline demanded by the new system of work through a legalized terrorism that used the whip, the red-hot iron and the torture.

Many agricultural areas, formerly cultivated ensuring the subsistence of numerous peasant families, were fenced off and transformed into pastures. Unable to adapt to the rigid discipline of manufacturing or even urban life, many displaced peasants became beggars; Laws and decrees followed to reduce this category of inhabitants. The laws prohibited the existence of unemployed people, punishing them with severe penalties. Henry VIII established by law that “the sick and disabled old people are entitled to a license to beg, but healthy vagabonds will be flagellated and imprisoned” (the recidivists also had half of their ears cut off). The first English “poor law”, under the reign of Elizabeth I, prepared, under the pretext of compulsory poverty relief, the future “workhouses”, workhouses, where the poor were compulsorily placed at the disposal of the industrial capitalist.

The latter prospered because markets expanded, both internally and externally, pressuring a constant and accelerated increase in production. The structuring of a world market, however, did not happen suddenly. It represented a leap forward in relation to previous “globalization” processes: the expansion of the Chinese Empire's suzerainties in the Far East, the commercial expansion of Islamic civilization in the era of its splendor, the resumption of internal and, above all, external trade routes, of the Christian Europe from the XNUMXth century onwards, which led countless merchants (especially Italians) to establish permanent commercial connections with the centers of production of fine fabrics (silk) and spices from the East.

Illustrating the scope of this process, Janet Abu-Lughod postulated the existence, between 1250 and 1350, of eight articulated economic circuits, in which trade and the division of labor configured self-sufficient developed economic systems.[xvii] Of these eight circuits, six were located in areas dominated by Islam which was, at the time, along with imperial China, the most developed economic area (Europe was less economically developed, its commercial contacts with the rest of the world were not continuous).

With the formation of the first national states in the “Old Continent”, the Arabs were being expelled from part of their domains, and the European expansion began, which would dominate the world, as the most important and paradoxical event in its history. As noted, Europe “isn't even a continent—it's just a subcontinental annex of Asia. All of Europe (excluding Russia and Turkey) comprises no more than 5,5 million square kilometers: less than two-thirds the area of ​​Brazil, little more than half the area of ​​China or the United States. It is dwarfed by Russia, which covers 17 million square kilometers”.[xviii] The countries located in this small territory, however, were able, thanks to the accumulation of capital, to dominate the world.

This poses a larger question: why did the broad non-European economic circuits not originate, unlike European expansion, a world market? In a recent hypothesis, Immanuel Wallerstein denied the character of “world economies” to the Arab-Islamic economic circuits of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, a category that, for this author, would only be achieved with the destruction of these circuits by European expansion. The largest economic circuits, in that period, were in China, until economic stagnation, accompanied by recurrent famine epidemics, was followed by a self-centered destruction and closure of the Chinese Empire, provoked by external onslaughts, events that were slowly preparing the ground for social changes in the Celeste Empire.

In contrast to the Arab setback and Chinese stagnation, the expansion of European activities by radio was inscribed in internal economic motives, in the logic that led to the gradual dissolution of manorial ties, the expansion of the radio of commerce and the impulse of mercantile production, accompanied by scientific, technical and ideological renewal. Fritz Rörig even proposed the existence of a “worldwide medieval economy”, including in this phenomenon the intercontinental trips made by medieval European merchants, from the XNUMXth century onwards.[xx]

It is in this context that Europeans won the “[undeclared] race to America”. From the end of the 1424th century, European interoceanic voyages took place in the context of “the freedom of ideas about the Atlantic shared by cartographers, cosmographers and explorers of Latin Christendom during the 1402th century. Against this background, Columbus' project to cross the ocean seems intelligible and even predictable. The Atlantic space exerted a powerful attraction on the imaginations of Latin Christendom. Cartographers seeded their representations of the ocean with speculative landmasses and, from 1439 onwards, left empty spaces to be filled with new discoveries. As interest in this space grew, so did the awareness of the possibility of exploring it. The first lasting European colonies were founded in the Canary Islands in XNUMX and in the Azores in XNUMX. The pace of efforts accelerated in the second half of the century”.[xx] And they concluded, as is well known.

With the worldwide expansion of Europe, the internationalization of the economy became a fact to be considered by its absolutist governments. The decrease in distances was accompanied by the specialization of countries and regions and the reorganization of local economies, caused by the opening of new markets, which caused some sectors of the economy to prosper and others to fail.

In the XNUMXth century, the impact of the American overseas discoveries, and the new route to the East, on the European economy was verified. For its external expansion, Europe took advantage of knowledge and maritime routes traced by the Chinese: the post-medieval European West created, based on these and other appropriations, a new society, based on an economic-social system in which mercantile relations took over the productive sphere , as did not happen in other societies in which internal and external trade had reached important dimensions, as well as scientific and technological development.

In short, the roots of European capitalism had their origin in the revival of internal trade, changes in agrarian production, the rise of international trade and the opening of lines of circulation of goods to/from the East and, finally, to/from Europe. America. As Earl J. Hamilton summarized: “Although there were other forces that contributed to the birth of modern capitalism, the phenomena associated with the discovery of America and the Cape route were the main factors in this development. Long distance voyages increased the size of ships and the technique of navigation. The expansion of the market facilitated the division of labor, and led to technical improvements. The introduction of new agricultural commodities from America and new agricultural and manufactured goods, especially oriental luxury goods, spurred industrial activity to obtain the counterpart to pay for them.

Emigration to the colonies of the New World and to establishments in the East lessened the pressure of population on metropolitan soil and increased the surplus, the excess of production in relation to national subsistence, from which savings could be drawn. The opening up of distant markets and sources of raw materials was an important factor in the transfer of control of industry and commerce from guilds to capitalist entrepreneurs. The old union organization, incapable of dealing with the new problems of purchase, production and sale, began to disintegrate and finally gave way to the capitalist enterprise, a more efficient means of management”.[xxx]

The interoceanic voyages of Christopher Columbus and Bartolomeu Dias were the culmination of this process and, above all, gave rise to another, of worldwide scope. They were followed by the expedition of Fernando de Magalhães (1480–1521), a Portuguese navigator in the service of Spain, who made the first voyage around the globe, which began in 1519 and ended in 1521. world maritime routes, but also at the pace of the colonizing enterprise, whether this took the form of a commercial enclave, trading post or territorial occupation. Seeking an alternative route to China, Europeans “discovered” a new continent, America, which they conquered and colonized, initially as a subsidiary function of their search for and penetration of the Chinese and Far Eastern markets. The first cartographies of the new continent were prepared to determine the most suitable crossing point for the Far East.

Intercontinental journeys formed a historical unity with the processes that, in Europe, accelerated social transformations; demographic increase, overcoming famines and plagues of the fourteenth century, resumption of wars and modernization of armies in the second half of the fifteenth century: “This internal impulse was finally sustained, from the end of the fifteenth century, by an injection of external wealth due to the maritime and colonial expansion. The circumnavigation of Africa, the discovery of the route to the Indies by Vasco da Gama, that of America by Columbus, and Magellan's voyage around the world, raised the scientific level and expanded the conception of the world in Europe.

At the same time, and this was the true objective of the 'discoverers', the great trade in exotic products, slaves and precious metals, opened up again, extraordinarily expanded. A new era was opening up for mercantile capital, more fertile than that of the Mediterranean republics of the Middle Ages, because a world market was constituted, whose impulse affected the entire European productive system, at the same time that large States (no longer simple cities) , they were going to take advantage of it to constitute themselves”.[xxiii]

Thus, European expansion finally unified the planet geographically and economically. Immanuel Wallerstein proposed, as the basis of the origin of the “modern world system” in the European sixteenth century, a slight superiority of capital accumulation in the United Kingdom and France, due to circumstances inherent to the end of feudalism in these countries, which triggered an economic expansion- culminating in a global system of exchanges that, in the XNUMXth century, incorporated almost all territories on the planet. The statement that it was a “Europeanization” of the world forgets that it was this process that created “Europe” in the modern sense:[xxiii] “Today, we imagine that Africa and Europe are two completely different continents, separated by an abyss of civilization, but until recently this distinction made no sense. For many centuries, goods and men moved more easily on water than on land, and trade and empire brought the peoples of the Mediterranean together.”[xxv]

Modern Europe, the initial cradle of capitalism, thus arose simultaneously from a split, a differentiation and a contrast. Because it was not, in short, Europe that created the world mercantile expansion, but this expansion that created the modern concept of Europe; this expansion, on the other hand, was not purely commercial, and was therefore also called “Europeanization”: “The construction of the modern world-system involved an expansion of Europe, which was simultaneously military, political, economic and religious. Within this context, Christian missionaries spanned the globe, but were notably more successful in parts of the world that were not dominated by so-called world religions. The number of converts in largely Islamic countries, Buddhist, Hindu and Confucian-Taoist areas, were relatively few, and particularly few in Islamic areas”.[xxiv]

European expansion was based on the expansion of manufacturing and industrial production, which required a constant expansion of the market; because of this, it reached all regions of the planet, creating conditions for “the intertwining of all peoples in the network of the world market and, with that, the international character of the capitalist regime”.[xxv] This expansion did not automatically create, on the other hand, the hegemony or economic superiority of Europe over the rest of the world. In China, still hegemonic in the Far East and resistant to European advances, in 1645 there was the conquest of power by the Manchu dynasty, which subjected the traditional peoples of Central China (the Manchus came from the northern region of China, Manchuria).

The maximum expansion of Chinese civilization was reached in the 600th century, when the vast interior regions of Mongolia, Sinkiang and Tibet were conquered. Subsequently, the “Middle Empire” (Chi'In) gradually lost its dominant position: the Chinese annual GDP per capita remained stable (1280 dollars) between 1700 and 500, while the European, in the same period, rose from 870 to XNUMX dollars.[xxviii] At the beginning of the 96th century, however, the estimated GDP of the Chinese economy was still the first in the world (74,25 billion “Geary Khamis dollars”), followed by that of India (15,6 billion) and, in third place, France (XNUMX billion).[xxviii]

European maritime expansion had strong internal repercussions, accelerating economic and social transformations in European states, when it intertwined with the colonization and exploration of “new territories”. A factor that increased the gains of capitalist tenants was the “revolution (increase) of prices” of the XNUMXth century, linked to the monetary expansion derived from the exploration of the New World, an inflationary phenomenon motivated by the influx of precious metals, following the colonization and conquest of Europe. America.

As the economy was not yet prepared to adjust all incomes in line with inflation, those who sold their goods (salaried workers and capitalists) profited unequally; those who mainly bought, lost (consumers in general, and partly the same wage earners and capitalists, only they gained much more and lost much less). Those who lived on fixed incomes and only shopped were ruined (basically, the landed gentry).

In order to survive economically, the State was forced to create other forms of revenue (sale of public debt securities, and sale of positions and titles, which were previously monopolized by the nobility by birth). The enormous entry of precious metals of American origin into Europe constituted a major episode in its economic and social history: “It was this fact that triggered the price crisis of the XNUMXth century, and saved Europe from a new Middle Ages, allowing the reconstitution of its metallic stock”.[xxix] He unleashed much more than that, as he anticipated the “(in)human climate” of a new society, through “the astonishment of these men over a century that begins before 1500 and during which prices do not stop rising .

They had the impression of living an unprecedented experience. The good old days when everything was given for nothing, was succeeded by the inhuman time of famines that never receded”,[xxx] for the poorest, and profits that did not stop increasing, for the nouveau riche. In western Europe, the average price of wheat quadrupled in the second half of the sixteenth century. Prices quadrupled in Spain in that century; in Italy, the price of wheat multiplied by 3,3; by 2,6 in England, and by 2,2 in France.[xxxii]

The crisis provoked by the “price revolution” (which, on average, quadrupled in Europe throughout the 1500th century) contributed, through inflation, to the ruin of countless craftsmen or small owners, creating new social conditions, susceptible of facilitating the passage to a new economic system: the emergence of free workers, dispossessed of any property other than their workforce. The total amount of gold circulating in Europe between 1650 and 180 increased from 16 to 60 tons, and that of silver from XNUMX to XNUMX tons.[xxxi]

An important part of the new and expanding monetary surplus was diverted to import goods from the East, but another part fed the budget of the States that spent it on armies and navies, borrowing from bankers and creating the fiscal deficit (public debt), which Marx called “capital's credo”: “It infuses unproductive money with creative force and thus transforms it into capital, without, for that, having to expose itself to the efforts and risks inseparable from industrial and even usurious application… Hence, it is entirely consistent the modern doctrine that a people become richer the more they are in debt. Public credit becomes the creed of capital. And when the indebtedness of the State appears, the sin against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness, gives way to the lack of faith in the public debt”.[xxxii] The primitive public debt generated the modern state's chronic dependence on financial capital. Accompanied by, and propitiated by, an inflationary phenomenon of unprecedented dimensions, which boosted it.

The inflation route followed the route of entry and transport of American precious metals in Europe: [xxxv] “The discovery and conquest set in motion an enormous flow of precious metal from America to Europe, and the result was a great rise in prices - an inflation occasioned by an increased supply of the best kind of money of good quality. Hardly anyone in Europe was so far removed from the influences of the market as not to feel some effect on his wages, on what he sold, or on any small object he wanted to buy. Price increases initially took place in Spain, where metals came in first; then, as they were carried by trade (or, perhaps to a lesser extent, by smuggling or conquest) to France, the Low Countries, and England, inflation followed. In Andalusia, between 1500 and 1600, prices rose five times. In England, if we took the prices of the last half of the 100th century to be 250, that is, before the voyages of Columbus, the height of the last decade of the 1673th century would be 1682; eighty years later, that is, in the decade from 350 to 1680, they would be at XNUMX, three and a half times more than they had reached before Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro. After XNUMX they stabilized and remained so, as they had fallen much earlier in Spain. These prices, not the conquerors' reports, represented the news that America had been discovered, for the vast majority of Europeans.[xxxiv]

If the importance of the sixteenth-century price revolution is beyond dispute, neither are its causes. Was the inflationary surge due to the increased circulation of precious metals, or did other factors also play a decisive role? For Licher Van Bath, a general rise in prices would have preceded the arrival and flow of precious metals in Europe from the United States. The prices of agricultural products rose earlier than those of manufactured goods, and also more than wages.[xxxiv] The triggering factor of the “price revolution” would have been, for this author, the population explosion: the population increase would have led to an increase in demand for subsistence products and, consequently, to an increase in prices. With the growth of the population there was a greater supply of labor, which led to a depreciation of wages. There would also have been a strong stimulus to subsistence agricultural production, evidenced by the increase in the cultivated area, and also by the increase in agronomic knowledge.

The rise in prices was directly reflected in the increase in urban trade and in the growth of cities. For Pierre Vilar, similarly, the price revolution was not caused exclusively by the increase in the circulation of metals from America: since the mid-XNUMXth century, a tendency for prices to rise was configured through demographic and agricultural expansion, technical advances in the extraction of silver in Europe, of financial, monetary, commercial and, finally, political innovations.

Inflation in the XNUMXth century was a crucial turning point in the European economy. Thanks to her, the crisis of the XNUMXth century, with the agricultural crisis, the population stagnation, gave rise to the final decline of feudalism, the rise of commercial capital and proto-industrialization, which were the heralding symptoms of a new mode of production.[xxxviii] The feudal lords already received the serfs' annual contributions in coin, a fixed rate per person. By doubling the amount of gold, with little change in production, prices doubled, halving the real income of the feudal lords: “The economic crisis of the feudal nobility gave rise to a great transfer of wealth, the macroscopic example of which was the sale of manors . To worsen the economic condition of the aristocracy and increase the speculative gains of the commercial bourgeoisie, a very particular circumstance had arisen: the rapid increase in the mass of circulating capital, which followed the massive importation of precious metals, determining a broad phenomenon of price inflation that had a negative impact on feudal land values”.[xxxviii]

The “price revolution” did not produce, but accelerated, the transition to a new mode of production. The general increase in prices produced a transfer of income from the feudal lords to the emerging commercial class, which did not fail to notice the political potential of the popular rebellion against the lords as an heralding sign of a new social regime: “At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the order established seemed threatened in Europe. The old pressure from the nobility and the renewed pressure from some sovereigns who demanded more taxes and more soldiers weighed heavily on the popular strata, especially on the peasants. His malaise expressed itself in more and more frequent riots, almost one a year.

These revolts were increasingly conscious and radical, often outlining demands for social reform. It doesn't matter that they claimed an illusory 'moral economy' that they supposed the lords had made vulnerable, or that they invoked divine law and that they made an egalitarian reading of the gospels, which gave a 'traditional' character to their discourse. Behind these arguments lay the hope of a new society in which men would be equal in rights, elected authorities, and religion would not be an instrument of social control in the hands of the clergy”.[xxxix] A revolution, not only economic, but also social, was on the way, based on the rebellion in the countryside.

In economic terms, Paul Mantoux, especially,[xl] accentuated the role of commerce and cities in the gestation period of capitalism. The great urban markets arose from the routes traveled by merchants. The transition to continuous buying and selling, however, did not start in European cities until the end of the XNUMXth century. This new commercial form was influenced by and also led to the development of new means of transport and steam navigation; the great obstacle that prevented the expansion of the mercantile economy was the lack of communication. The new flow of trade demanded that it be conducted through more efficient channels.

With the development of transport, fairs and occasional markets would become obsolete in Western Europe (Eastern Europe fairs retained their importance longer). Business methods have changed. Product exchanges gradually took the place of fairs, working daily and permanently. Large purchases and sales were made by samples: trade became more speculative.

As a necessary complement, the sale of securities and insurance terms or transactions emerged, whereby the producer was guaranteed against any loss he might suffer through fluctuations in the price of raw materials. Insurance guaranteed the payment of a pre-established fine if the price fell; the buyer, in turn, guarantees coverage for the possibly altered value of the product he wanted to buy. There was a growing confidence in commercial commitments and in the honesty of business.

The market, moreover, was diversified, there was a greater quantity of supplies. With the modification of transport, the variety of products coming from different places was much greater. Merchants began to dedicate themselves only to sales, specializing in certain sectors. Product exchanges used new methods of communication to relate to other exchanges: this led to the tendency to create a single international price, whose fluctuation was notified to all markets. Commercial travelers used new modes of transportation to seek out buyers. The stores became more varied, they started to be managed by a specialized articles merchant: they became commercial companies. Initially small and specialized, they would later become large and multiple, with branches.

The accelerated circulation of goods was a condition for the valorization of capital in industry and commerce. With the dissolution of the vassalages, the feudal system in the countryside and the corporative organization in the city progressively collapsed: capital from commerce was installed in the manufactures, taking advantage of the urban system and the corporative organization, seeking economies of scale through the centralization of productive resources . Marx summarized the process: “The transformation of individually dispersed means of production into socially concentrated means, from the minuscule ownership of the many to the gigantic ownership of the few; the expropriation of the great mass of the population, stripped of their lands, their means of subsistence and their instruments of work, that terrible and difficult expropriation, constituted the prehistory of capital”.[xi]

In this new economic framework, feudal survivals became an obstacle to development, the failure of which would return Europe to the productive and social levels of the Middle Ages: “Only a radical transformation could bring about the necessary change to consolidate the agrarian revolution that had begun in Europe. England… The premise for the expansion of manufacturing production was the internal and external expansion of the demand for goods. The demand for consumer goods increased as the population increased. The repercussions of population growth on demand were, however, limited, as real wages fell due to rising food prices.

As the purchasing power of agrarian products increased, the share of peasant income that could be added to the demand for manufactured products grew. Demand from the urban middle classes also gained weight. Thanks to the incipient commercialization of agriculture, proto-industrialization, and the disproportionate growth of cities, the number of households dependent on the market increased extraordinarily rapidly. The domestic economies for which the market was peripheral gradually declined. The domestic market expanded. Because of agricultural improvements and the reduction of supply crises, the crises of underconsumption of manufactures lost strength”.[xliii] Another type of crisis would take its place. The age of manufactures and the age of cities were born in parallel.

In the first great financial centers of Europe, especially in Amsterdam, the beginnings of capitalist accumulation were accompanied by crises of a new type. Initially, they were attributed to random phenomena, as was the case of the “tulip crisis”, the first recorded modern economic crisis, which took place between 1636 and 1637, caused by speculation about the increase in prices, and their subsequent collapse, in this way. exotic flower used in garden decoration and also in medicine in the Netherlands.

It was the first “overproduction crisis” to be recorded in historical annals: merchants were crammed with tulip bulbs, and they broke: the Dutch Court did not enforce payment on these contracts, when the “price bubble” burst. Smaller but similar versions of “tulipamania” also occurred in other parts of Europe. One of its effects was the sophistication of the financial system (through insurance contracts) and the creation of new commercial exchange mechanisms, such as the options market.[xiii]

The European economic center of gravity shifted to the North Sea: with the entry of England, Holland and France in the colonial expansion, Fernand Braudel dated in 1650 the passage of the history of the “Mediterranean world” to the world history.[xiv] Thus, it was with the neighboring territories of the North Sea as the initial center, in a process of much broader economic scope, that the conditions that made possible the birth of capitalism and its institutions were created in Western Europe. Its launch bases were social and political violence in Europe, and the general violence derived from colonization in America and Africa – the first crises of overaccumulation of goods, in turn, were the heralding sign of its painful birth.

*Osvaldo Coggiola He is a professor at the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Marxist economic theory: an introduction (boitempo).


[I] Karl Marx. The capital, Book I, vol. 1.

[ii] Samuel K. Cohn. The Laboring Classes in Renaissance Florence. New York, Academic, 1980.

[iii] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Communist Manifesto. São Paulo, City of Man, 1980 [1848].

[iv] Cf. Carlos Astarita. Social conflict in feudalism. History & Class Struggle nº 14, Cândido Rondon, University of West Paraná, September 2012.

[v] Barbara W. Tuchman. Uno Specchio Lontano. A section of adventure and calamità: il Trecento. Milan, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1992.

[vi] Charles Van Doren. A Brief History of Knowledge. Rio de Janeiro, House of the Word, 2012.

[vii] Name derived from Old French people, the term designated the rural possessing class that, although devoid of noble titles, had aspirations to transform itself into a landed aristocracy.

[viii] Leo Huberman. History of the Wealth of Man. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar, 1974.

[ix] Francis Bacon. The Essays. London, Penguin, 1986 [c. 1625].

[X] Michael Perelman. The secret history of primitive accumulation and classical political economy. the commoner nº 26, Lisbon, March 2018..

[xi] Maurice Dobb. The Evolution of Capitalism. Rio de Janeiro, Guanabara, 1987 [1947].

[xii] Karl Marx. Salaried Work and Capital. Beijing, Ediciones en Lenguas Extranjeras, 1976 [1847].

[xiii] Ellen Meiskins Wood. The Origins of Capitalism. A longer view. London, Verse Books, 2002.

[xiv] Phyllis Deane. The Industrial Revolution. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar, 1982.

[xv] Karl Marx. The capital, Book I, vol. 1, as well as the preceding quotes.

[xvi] The expression came from in ancient Rome, where it designated the citizen of the last and lowest social class, who did not pay taxes and was considered useful only by the children (offspring) he generated.

[xvii] Janet L. Abu-Lughod. Before European Hegemony. The world system 1250-1350. New York, Oxford University Press, 1989.

[xviii] Tony Judt. Post War. A history of Europe since 1945. Rio de Janeiro, Objetiva, 2011.

[xx] Fritz Rorig. The Medieval Town. Batsford, University of California Press, 1967 [1932].

[xx] Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. Christopher Columbus. Barcelona, ​​Folio, 2004.

[xxx] Earl J. Hamilton. The Flowering of Capitalism. Madrid, Alianza Universidad, 1984.

[xxiii] Pierre Vilar. La transition du feodalisme au capitalisme. In: CERM (Centre d'Études et Recherches Marxistes). Sur le Féodalisme. Paris, Editions Sociales, 1971.

[xxiii] Defenders of “eternal Europe” based themselves on the lines of geographic division drawn by the classical Greeks who, naturally Greco-centric, named the lands to the East as Asia, those to the South as Africa, and the rest as Europe, a notion that, however, , encompassed part of Africa and extended to the borders of Egypt on the Nile, that is, as far as the Hellenic civilization reached, excluding the Iberian peninsula. The Greek geo-civilization division, which fell into disuse in the Christian Era, was resumed (distorted) in the modern era, intending to establish a direct historical continuity line between the Greek “Europe” with the modern Western Europe; the Mediterranean would always have separated the “civilized West” from the “barbaric East”. Thus, “Eurocentrism” was born.

[xxv] Nigel Cliff. Holy war. How Vasco da Gama's travels transformed the world. Sao Paulo, Globo, 2012.

[xxiv] Immanuel Wallerstein. Islam, the West, and the World. Lecture in series “Islam and World System,” Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, October 1998.

[xxv] Karl Marx. The capital. Book I, Vol. 1.

[xxviii] Angus Madison. Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run. Paris, OECD, 1998.

[xxviii] The Geary-Khamis dollar is a fictitious unit of account, which has the same purchasing power in a given country as the US dollar in the United States at a given time.

[xxix] Pierre Chaunu. History of Latin America. São Paulo, European Book Diffusion, 1981.

[xxx] Fernand Braudel. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. São Paulo, Edusp, 2016, vol. 1.

[xxxii] John H. Munro. Money, prices wages and profit inflation in Spain, the Southern Netherlands and England during the price revolution: 1520-1650. History and Economy vol. 4 nº 1, São Paulo, 1st half of 2008.

[xxxi] Earl J. Hamilton. The American Treasury and the Precious Revolution in Spain 1501-1650. Barcelona, ​​Criticism, 2000.

[xxxii] Karl Marx. The capital. Book I, Section VII.

[xxxv] See Fernand Braudel. Il tesoro americano e la rivoluzione dei prezzi. In: Ciro Manca (ed.). Formazione e Transformazione dei Sistemi Economici in Europa dal Feudalesimo al Capitalismo. Padua, CEDAM, 1995.

[xxxiv] John K. Galbraith. Currency. Where did it come from, where did it go. São Paulo, Pioneer, 1977.

[xxxiv] H. Licher Van Bath. Agrarian History of Western Europe (500-1850). Lisbon, Presence, 1984.

[xxxviii] Eric J. Hobsbawn. The general crisis of the European economy in the seventeenth century. In: Charles Parain et al. The Feudalism. Madrid, SARPE, 1985.

[xxxviii] Giuliano Conte. From the Crisis of Feudalism to the Birth of Capitalism. Lisbon, Presence, 1979.

[xxxix] Joseph Fontana. Europe in front of the Mirror. Bauru, Edusc, 2005.

[xl] Paul Mantoux. The Industrial Revolution in the XNUMXth Century. Sao Paulo, Hucitec, 1988.

[xi] Karl Marx. The capital. Book I, Vol. 1.

[xliii] Peter Kriedte. Late Feudalism and Mercantile Capital. Master lines of European economic history from the 1982th century to the end of the XNUMXth century. Barcelona, ​​Critica, XNUMX.

[xiii] Osvaldo Coggiola. In the XNUMXth century: the tulip crisis. Living History nº 62, São Paulo, November 2008.

[xiv] Fernand Braudel. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, cit.

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