This chapter examines the role played by local magistrates in the governance of cross-border trade in Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam. To organize cross-border transactions, international traders relied on relatives and friends who either traded on a commission basis or became their formal partners. Merchants instructed these foreign agents using extensive correspondence and keeping private accounts to monitor their operations. The chapter first considers the commission trade in Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam, with particular emphasis on the writing of commenda contracts, before discussing the merchants' creation of specific purpose partnerships to limit their liability and their use of double-entry bookkeeping for their business. It shows that urban magistrates always lent support to the network-based trade of international merchants and promoted the central position of their own city in the European economy.
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