two patterns of city development took place. Firstly, there were the capitals which
represented authority and grandness. Secondly, there were the merchants' towns
which owed their origin to the spread of mercantilism. The spatial expansion of trade
necessitated the enlargement of trading facilities which existing medieval structures
could not support. Importance was attached to transportation networks which
became the lifeline of urban existence. Amsterdam and London are among the
prominent cities associated with the mercantile period. Hence, this lesson examines
these two cities.
The Netherlands' importance was limited during the Roman period due to its remote
location and the fact that the Romans preferred land, rather than sea, routes.
However, the Netherlands became of increasing importance during the Middle Ages.
Amsterdam, which had existed as a medieval port, entered into trade during the
16th Century. The dikes, dwelling characteristics, occupational segregation, and
canals of Amsterdam played important roles in its growth and development.
London, on the other hand, was built as a Roman settlement in 43 AD. Its location
on the Thames River and function as a centre of communications and administration
helped London to grow as an important trading centre. The town continued to be
centred around its port during the Medieval Period. Growth in mercantile trade was
responsible for the spatial, economic, and social aspects of urban development in the
England, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden were involved
in the process of trade expansion during the 17th and 18th Centuries. At the initial
stages, the primary motive was to establish trade connections. This was followed by
political control over the colonies and finally the establishment of cities. The
discovery of the new resource areas, use of sea routes, and extension of colonial
trade to North America and Asia brought major changes within Europe.
Overseas trade was responsible for the development of many Atlantic and North Sea
ports such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Hamburg. European trade expansion may
be divided into two stages. In the first stage, Spain and Portugal were Europe's
major suppliers of commodities. During the second stage, a number of other western
European countries gradually became involved in the development of plantations and
slave trade. Some of the major trade commodities included sugar, tobacco, cotton,