This concluding chapter summarizes the book's main findings about the ways that urban competition influenced the organization of international trade in the Low Countries. In particular, the book has shown how urban competition gives rise to inclusive institutions that facilitate exchange and help merchants deal with conflicts as well as losses from violent assaults. It has also discussed how Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam supported a variety of institutions for conflict resolution to help merchants address any kind of agency problem. The chapter considers three conditions that enabled Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam to transform an extremely heterogeneous institutional framework into a widely shared body of open access institutions: access to domestic and foreign markets, footloose merchants, and urban autonomy. Finally, it examines the implications of the history of Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam for current theories of institutional change.
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