SACKS, David Harris
Title: The Widening Gate : Bristol and the Atlantic Economy, 1450-1700. First Edition in dustjacket
Publisher:  University of California Press, 1991, 1991
ISBN Number: 0520071484 / 9780520071483
Seller ID: 29350
SACKS, David Harris. The Widening Gate : Bristol and the Atlantic Economy, 1450-1700. Berkeley: University of California Press, (1991). First Printing. Pp (10),xi-xxxvii,,(1),1-464,(4). Many tables in the text. 8vo, tan cloth, metallic red lettering to spine.
No. 15 in The New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics series.
A subtle analysis of the role played by Bristol shipping in the transformation from a medieval commercial economy to a modern capitalist one.
"The history of capitalism is not to be explained in mere economic terms. David Harris Sacks here demonstrates that the modern Western economy was ushered in by broad processes of social, political, and cultural change. His study of Bristol as it opened its gates to national politics and the Atlantic economy reveals capitalism to be not just a species of economic order but a distinct form of life, governed by its own ethical norms and cultural practices.
Availing himself of the methods of 'thick description,' socio-economic analysis, and political theory, Sacks examines the dynamics by which early modern Bristol moved from a medieval commercial economy to a modern capitalist one. Throughout the period, the life of the city depended heavily on the successes of its great overseas merchants. But their quest for a monopoly of trade with the outside world, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Levant, came into conflict with the concerns of Bristol's artisans and retail shopkeepers. The battles of the two factions conditioned social and cultural developments in Bristol for two centuries. Locally, the conflict set the terms for developing conceptions of justice and authority. On a larger scale, it drew the community firmly into the great affairs of the realm and the wider world of expanding markets beyond." - from the dj.
"Bristol is the city that John Cabot sailed from and Thomas Chatterton dreamed, that Hugh Latimer preached to and Oliver Cromwell seized, that entertained Parliaments in the Middle Ages and rioted for Reform in the nineteenth century. Since the Norman Conquest, it has always had an important place in English history, experiencing events and contributing to developments that stirred the nation. What follows is an account of its connection with one small piece of that history, the rise of the Atlantic economy in the early modern period and the accompanying transformation of English economic ideas and practices. But this book is not about economics alone. It is grounded on the belief that we can no more abstract the economy from politics, culture, and society than we can separate intentional human action from thought and judgment. It also rejects the notion that the life of a city like Bristol could ever be treated as a self-contained whole. Instead it views such cities as social organisms living in close relationship with their surroundings. What gives them their structure is the set of internal codes they carry. And what enables them to survive is their ability to adapt to or transform their environment, which itself is always changing. - from the Preface, p.xv.
Introduction: The Closed Arena and the Open Gate.
Part I. Opening the Way, 1450–1650.
1. Feats of Merchandise
2. Mere Merchants
3. Organizing the Society.
Part II. In a Worshipful State, 1450–1650.
4. The Navel of the World
5. The Sanctification of Power
6. Little Businesses
7. Looking Backward.
Part III. The Capitalism of the Spirit, 1650–1700.
8. A Shoemakers’ Holiday
9. Registering the Pilgrimage
10. The Spirit World
Conclusion: The Widening Gate of Capitalism
With notes and index.
Very good in dustjacket. 50.00