Souterius over de plichten van kooplieden

SouteriusThis article discusses De officiis mercatorum (On Duties of Merchants), the first Dutch eulogy on trade, published in 1615 by Daniël Souterius (1571-1634). The Counter-Remonstrant minister Souterius is seen as predecessor of the Further Reformation. A trained humanist, Souterius adopted the method of Lipsius. A whole range of quotations, mainly taken from classical (Christian as well as pagan) authors, substantiates his argument. The book’s premise is that commerce is a gift of God to man. In order to use it properly, the merchant should adopt nine rules of conduct, most importantly to have a good conscience. The duties as described by Souterius apply to every Christian merchant and are not specific for a confession. The second part of this articles outlines the intellectual context of the booklet, by comparing it with other economic treatises such as Udemans’s ‘t Geestelyck roer van’t coopmans schip and Barlaeus’s Mercator sapiens. The conclusion is that Souterius’s Officiis dedicated to the VOC (Dutch East India Company) displays Dutch self-consciousness, early-modern trade ethics and late humanist erudition all in one.

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