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The Beginnings of Capitalism in Central Europe

Edited By Cyril Levitt

This book focuses on the beginnings of capitalism in Central Europe with emphasis on the German-speaking areas from the 14th to the 17th century. It also reviews and assesses the writings on the topic by the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. At the center of the presentation are the developments in mining, metallurgy, smelting, book publishing, clock making, ship building and advances in trade, commerce and finance. This book will be of interest to students of medieval and early modern European history, the so-called transition debate of feudalism to capitalism, social scientists and historians who are interested in the various transitions in human history, and philosophers who follow developments in the changing issues regarding freedom and bondage over the course of human development. Anthropologists who are familiar with Krader’s writings on the development of the Asiatic mode of production will be interested to see how Krader treats this transition from feudalism to capitalism by way of comparison and contrast.

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Table of Contents

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

About the Author and This Book by Cyril Levitt

Preface: Krader in Context by David Levine

Reply to Krader in Context by Cyril Levitt

Translator’s Foreword


Author’s Foreword

Author’s Introduction

Part I

Chapter One: The Beginnings of Modern Bourgeois Society in Central Europe: The Bourgeois Revolution from the 15th–17th Centuries

Chapter Two: Theoretical Conceptions of the Transition from Feudalism to the Modern Era in the History of Central Europe: Marx, Weber and Troeltsch, Sombart and Kulischer, Schumpeter

2.1 General Remarks

2.2 The Transition from Feudalism to Modern Bourgeois Society According to Karl Marx

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2.3 Max Weber and the Spirit of Capitalism

2.4 Sombart, Kulischer, von Below, Strieder, Brentano, Janssen, Pareto, Braudel

2.5 Schumpeter

2.6 The Capitalist System and Modern Bourgeois Society

2.7 Social Form and Substance

2.7a Form and Substance of Freedom: Faust’s Last Words

2.8 On the Theory of Labour and Technique as Part of the Labour Process in the Period of Early Capitalism

Part II

Chapter Three: Labour Processes in Central Europe, 15th–17th Centuries

3.1 The Population and Its Numbers

3.2 The Condition of the Peasants

3.3 Labour Processes in the City General Considerations Concerning Harmony and Struggle

3.4 The Guild System, the Putting-Out System and Manufacture

3.5 Merchants, Trade and Calculating Skills [Rechenkunst]

3.5.1 Arithmetic, Calculating Skills [Rechenkunst]

3.5.2 Merchants and Trade

Part III

Chapter Four: Machines, Mechanics, Time and Geometry

4.1 Mechanical Clocks and the Consciousness of Time

4.1.1 Mechanical Clocks

4.1.2 The Measurement and Consciousness of Time

4.2 Wage Labour and Wage Policy in the Early Capitalist Period

4.3 Labour and Society, Public and Private Interests

Chapter Five: Mining and Metallurgy

5.1 Mining Freedom

5.2 Structuring of Labour in Mining During the 14th and 15th Centuries

5.3 Labour and Processing in Mining

5.4 The Iron Industry in Central Europe in the 15th and 16th Centuries

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Europe in the World

Capitalism and Developed Culture

From the Social Contract to the Concept of Society




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