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Title: Companies, commerce and politics : the Hudson's Bay, Levant and Russia Companies, 1714-1763
Author: Wagner, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 6084
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The operations of the chartered trading companies in the eighteenth century have long been regarded as a mere afterthought to their activities in the previous two centuries. Recently, however, there has been renewed interest in the Royal African and East India companies, and this thesis concerns the three other major chartered companies which survived as trading entities in the eighteenth century - the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), the Levant Company and the Russia Company. The thesis re-examines, for the period 1714-63, the commercial operations of the three companies as well as the relationship between their commercial operations and politics. The hundreds of merchants in these three companies represent a broad and important sample of London merchant enterprise. The companies had different organizational structures and employed different strategies, but a common attribute of the three companies was that they were in the vanguard of change in terms of their use of financial services to manage their operations and the involvement of their members on the boards of joint stock companies. An inability to match French cloth prices was the principal reason for the decline of the Levant Company during this period. The HBC also lost significant market share to their French rivals, but was able to consistently produce strong financial results because of rising prices for beaver fur in London. Strong demand for its imports allowed the Russia Company to become one of the great success stories of eighteenth-century commerce. The mid-century parliamentary attacks on the Levant Company and the HBC were fundamentally motivated by the economic impact of French competition on key stakeholders in their businesses. The companies were able to call on support from a range of sources, which crucially included the government, and they skilfully used the parliamentary process to counter a popular prejudice against monopoly companies.
Supervisor: Gauci, Perry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; History of Britain and Europe ; History