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The Widening Gate

Bristol and the Atlantic Economy, 1450-1700

David Harris Sacks (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 450 pages
ISBN: 9780520084490
December 1993
$39.95, £29.95
From the Preface: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. 
David Harris Sacks is Associate Professor of History and Humanities at Reed College and the author of Trade, Society, and Politics in Bristol, 1500-1640.
"[A] remarkable study of Bristol."--Lawrence Stone, Past and Present "A major achievement, not least in its synthesis of the various spheres of history."--Jonathan Barry, Times Higher Education Supplement "[A] handsomely produced masterwork. . . . [It is] nothing less than an account of the local history of capitalism across three centuries, poised in the complex cultural setting of English provincial life. . . . Sacks skillfully open numerous vistas on the changing world of early modern England, and he puts all students of its culture and economy in his debt."--Henry Roseveare, William and Mary Quarterly "A well-written integration of economic, social, political, and religious themes. . . . This thoroughly researched, many faceted, and rewarding study is a model of modern scholarship unshackled from specialization."--Ian K. Steele, American Historical Review "A fascinating account of the transformation of Bristol from a small, medieval, commerical town to a major city dominating its region, 'an entrepot of early modern capitalism'"--Joseph E. Bettey, International History Review "[An] important book. Sacks shows in convincing detail how religion is mixed up with economics, foreign trade with sectarian religion, local with international politics."--Christopher Hill, in The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution "No short summary can do justice to the intricacy of the argument or the scholarly labour that has gone into the book."--K.G. Davies, Times Literary Supplement

John Ben Snow Foundation Prize in History and the Social Sciences, John Ben Snow Foundation

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