Becoming a correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820)

Abstract : This article discusses the relational and rhetorical foundations of more than 300 first letters sent in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by merchant or banking houses based in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Americas to two prominent French firms: Roux Brothers and Greffulhe Montz & Cie. We used a quantitative analysis of qualitative aspects of first letters to go beyond the standard opposition between premodern personal exchanges and modern impersonal transactions. The expansion of commercial networks during the period under analysis is often believed to have relied on families and ethnic networks and on explicit recommendations worded in the formulas prescribed in merchant manuals. However, most first letters did not use such resources. In many cases, commercial operations began thanks to a mutual acquaintance but without a formal recommendation. This was in fact the norm in the eighteenth century—and an underestimated foundation of the expansion of European commercial networks. In the early nineteenth century, this norm became less prevalent: it was replaced by diverse relational and rhetorical strategies, from recommendations to prospective letters dispensing with any mention of relationships. Whether before or after 1800, the relational and rhetorical resources displayed in letters did not systematically influence the sender’s chances of becoming a correspondent; instead, they depended on the receiving firm’s commercial strategy.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [41 references]  Display  Hide  Download

https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01685251
Contributor : Spire Sciences Po Institutional Repository <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 4:56:43 PM
Last modification on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 12:17:23 PM
Long-term archiving on: Friday, January 11, 2019 - 5:43:26 PM

File

becoming-a-correspondent.pdf
Files produced by the author(s)

Identifiers

Citation

Arnaud Bartolomei, Claire Lemercier, Viera Rebolledo-Dhuin, Nadège Sougy. Becoming a correspondent: The Foundations of New Merchant Relationships in Early Modern French Trade (1730–1820). Enterprise and Society, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2019, 20 (3), pp.533-577. ⟨10.1017/eso.2018.88⟩. ⟨hal-01685251v2⟩

Share

Metrics

Record views

160

Files downloads

158