Mercantilism is a kind of economic philosophy which is committed to enriching the country and strengthening the army. From the end of the 15th century to the second half of the 18th century, in nearly 300 years, it has always appeared as a strategy of enriching the country and strengthening the army. Its policy recommendations are always trying to increase gold and silver currency for the country and enhance the national wealth capacity.
The mercantilist theory and policy of enriching the country and strengthening the army mainly include seven aspects.
1、 Money (precious metals) is the only measure of wealth.
Mercantilism equates wealth with gold, silver and other precious metals. It holds that money (precious metals) is the only standard to measure wealth. Wealth is money, and money is gold and silver naturally. Only gold and silver is the only wealth. Mercantilism holds that gold and silver can be exchanged directly for any commodity, so it is the best wealth. Therefore, the purpose and significance of a country’s economic activities is to expand its monetary holdings. All economic policies and activities can be summed up as the grabbing of gold and silver. The more gold and silver a country has, the richer and stronger it will be.
This view of mercantilism is mainly reflected in the early mercantilist ideological system from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th century. It advocates the inflow of gold and silver and restricts the outflow of gold and silver in order to achieve the purpose of accumulating domestic wealth. Therefore, the early mercantilism is also known as “mercantilism” or “money balance theory”.
Under the influence of mercantilism thought and policy, the European royal family attached great importance to the accumulation of gold and silver currency wealth. The art works at that time fully described people’s attention and worship to gold and silver currency.
According to the traditional view of economic history, mercantilism can be divided into two stages: the early stage and the late stage according to the change of theoretical content, which respectively experienced two periods of “currency balance theory” and “trade balance theory”. Early mercantilism was popular from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th century. The main representatives were John HELLES of England (unknown birth, died in 1571), de montcletian of France (1575-1622); Late mercantilism prevailed from the second half of the 16th century to the second half of the 18th century. The main representatives were Thomas Meng of England (1571-1641) and Colbert of France (1619-1683).