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Mercantilist Policy
Mercantilist ideas were the dominant economic ideology of all of Europe in the early modern period, and most states embraced it to a certain degree. Mercantilism was centered in England and France, and it was in these states that mercantilist polices were most often enacted. Mercantilism arose in France in the early 16th century, soon after the monarchy had become the dominant force in French politics. In 1539, an important decree banned the importation of woolen goods from Spain and some parts of Flanders. The next year, a number of restrictions were imposed on the export of bullion. Over the rest of the sixteenth century further protectionist measures were introduced. The height of French mercantilism is closely associated with Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister for 22 years in the 17th century, to the extent that French mercantilism is sometimes called "Colbertism". Under Colbert, the French government became deeply involved in the economy in order to increase exports. Protectionist policies were enacted that limited imports and favored exports. Industries were organized into guilds and monopolies, and production was regulated by the state through a series of over a thousand directives outlining how different products should be produced. To encourage industry, foreign artisans and craftsmen were imported. Colbert also worked to decrease internal barriers to trade, reducing internal tariffs and building an extensive network of roads and canals. Colbert's policies were quite successful, and France's industrial output and economy grew considerably during this period, as France became the dominant European power. He was less successful in turning France into a major trading power, and Britain and the Netherlands remained supreme in this field. In England, mercantilism reached its peak during the Long Parliament government (1640–1660). Mercantilist policies were also embraced throughout much of the Tudor and Stuart periods, with Robert...
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