Cities of Commerce was written by Oscar Gelderblom. It focuses on the institutional trade in the low countries during the medieval period and early modern Europe.

The book explores the Political and legal fragmentation of sovereigns that allowed cities to adopt a Free market economy. Due to this, Leadership in commerce shifted from one city to another, there were no predetermined winners of this competition because many cities had commercial potentials as a result of institutional changes.

City merchants adopted Private Order Solutions to decentralized trading activities from the central government which mitigated opportunism, violence and promote an inclusive access. As a result of this, there were arrangements for merchant guilds, flexible tax system, dispute resolution, standardized stock exchange, insurance coverage, debt financing and created public goods without the support of the home government.

This work reveals that despite the dysfunction and belligerence facing sovereigns, commerce can thrive through institutional framework that allow entrepreneurial initiatives to ease economic activities.

Furthermore, the book explains that free market enterprise open cities to compete for resources and talent with one another. Cities can adopt constant changes in Institutional arrangement to stay competitive economically.

Gelderblom argued that the very problem of Europe’s political and legal fragmentation also produced its solution which was an economic rivalry between these cities in the form of competition between urban governments that tried to attract trade through the continued adaptation of their legal, commercial, and financial institutions.

Cities adapted their legal, financial and commercial infrastructure to attract merchants and secure their continuous presence.

Creators of zones and Societies will find this book intriguing.

This book is practically applicable to city building and there are best practices found in Chapter 2, 4, 5

Policy makers and analysts will find great insights in this book. Chapter 2,3,4,5 is relevant because It explains the ideas of building strong institutions and allowing free enterprises to fill govenment gaps and facilitate economic growth.

Scholars will enjoy the book especially for historical studies. Chapter 1 and 6 focuses on the Political and Economic history of trade activities in late medieval and early modern Europe.

70% entrepreneurial, 80% policy and 40% academic



Institute for Competitive Governance

The Institute for Competitive Governance is a nonprofit institution which studies special jurisdictions throughout the world.