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A painting of the French seaport of Claude Lorrain from 1638, at the height of mercantilism

Mercantilism is a kind of economic system that was present in most parts of Europe between the 16th and the 18th century.

The term was first used by Marquis de Mirabeau in 1794. Adam Smith made it known to a wider audience in 1776. At that time, absolutism was the main form of government in Europe. These regimes needed money to finance a large military, the many people who worked in the government. The monarchs and princes also needed money in order to finance their lifestyle. These governments were also very nationalistic. For this reason, mercantilism is seen as a form of economic nationalism. view more...