2009 年 118 巻 12 号 p. 2132-2156
The purpose of this article is to show the connection that existed between state organization and merchant society and describe the commercial strategy of elite merchants in early modern France, by focusing on the Chamber of Commerce of Guyenne, Bordeaux. The C of C was formed by a decision of the State Council in 1705. The French government at the end of the reign of Louis XIV allowed bourgeois merchants to participate in state political institutions, where they could engage in discussions concerning national and regional economic policy. According to one American historian, D. K. Smith, the activity of the C of C was an example of the new political culture of the time. The city of Bordeaux during this period was experiencing initial development through the colonial trade; and the city's merchants would at times need to negotiate with the government in order to achieve commercial success in their enterprises. This article investigates the questions of how the merchants of Bordeaux participated in the C of C and what function the institution performed within the city's merchant society. To begin with, the elite merchants of Bordeaux, who had been old members of the Tribunal of Commerce, were supportive of the C of C and decided to govern it by themselves until 1704. Then from 1705 on, they undertook to elect the directors of the Chamber from among their own and consequently monopolized the directorship throughout the eighteenth century. Although the C of C's directors were limited to the bourgeois merchants who were natives of Bordeaux, they maintained their links with both protestant and foreign merchants. Within this process, the elite merchants of Bordeaux took control of the C of C, as the, institution took root within the city's merchant society. Secondly, the Chamber of Commerce was the space not only where merchants could formulate and juxtapose their opinions against state policy, but also where merchants could acquire advice regarding their own problems. It is true that the directors were linked in a political network with the Council of Commerce of Paris, which they provided with commercial information; but when merchants in Bordeaux made inquiries about commercial affairs to the Chamber, the directors did discuss them and offered their expert opinions. Therefore, the Chamber was also an institution for promoting the activities of the bourse, forcing the researcher to reconsider this institution in the context of the long-term history of the bourse in the Western world. Finally, the Chamber of Commerce was the centre of commercial strategy in Bordeaux. Under state policy formulated to deal with the War of the Spanish Succession, the directors allowed the Dutch and ships of neutral countries entry into the port to purchase wine, while they, monopolized the colonial trade. As for regional commerce, the directors concentrated their attention to the route between Bordeaux and Agde of Languedoc, in addition to transportation along the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers. While considering the problems and the demands of the city's merchants, there is no doubt that the Chamber governed the merchant society of Bordeaux.