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Distant TyrannyMarkets, Power, and Backwardness in Spain, 1650-1800$
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Regina Grafe

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144849

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144849.001.0001

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The Tyranny of Distance

The Tyranny of Distance

Transport and Markets in Spain

(p.80) Chapter 4 The Tyranny of Distance
Distant Tyranny

Regina Grafe

Princeton University Press

This chapter describes how Spain suffers from a particularly unforgiving geography by European standards. In terms of landmass it is smaller than France, but it has only two navigable rivers, the Ebro and the Guadalquivir, and even these become unnavigable barely 100 kilometers from the sea. To complicate things further, the central high plateau is separated from the coastlines in every direction by mountain ranges. It is thus hardly surprising that market integration in Spain was haphazard, slow, and regionally diverse in the early modern period. The chapter argues that Spain was just unlucky; its geography did not lend itself easily to the technologically available means of improving transport either on water or land. However, the extent to which unfavorable transport conditions contributed to Spain's overall predicament and restricted market integration is poorly understood.

Keywords:   Spain, geography, Ebro, Guadalquivir, mountain ranges, market integration, transport conditions

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