Abstract: From the Baltic to the Atlantic: Merchant Networks and Economic Integration in the Northern Seas in the Eighteenth Century

Chris Evans and Gören Rydén


At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Baltic and the Atlantic, hitherto distinct commercial zones, were drawn closer together, becoming interlinked parts of a British commercial empire. This was the work of British merchants who established networks that extended both east and west, stretching from the Gulf of Finland to the New World. We propose to examine this process through a case study of one exceptionally well-documented economic actor of the time, a Bristol merchant named Graffin Prankard who imported bar iron from Sweden and Russia and marketed rice and other colonial staples in northern Europe in return. This paper will use business archives in Sweden and the United Kingdom to illuminate the connections between entrepreneurial activity, trading networks, changing forms of production, and imperial ambition.