17th Century Industrial Policy

Mark Kishlansky’s A Monarchy Transformed offers the following on Stuart England’s efforts to move up the value chain:

In truth, schemes like the Cockayne Project, in which a syndicate of London merchants was given the right to export coloured cloth while the export of undyed cloth was inhibited, were unmitigated disasters.

What’s more, at the time there was no special legal distinction between a patent and the king’s general power to create monopolies.

We also learn this about occupational licensing:

He would rather ‘his child were baptized by an ape as by a woman’ he concluded in dismissing the custom of allowing midwives to baptize dying infants, which many, including the King, believed was a cover for witches to steal babies for satanic rituals.

Any time you read a well-written history of any subject you don’t know much about, you wind up learning surprising things and getting some interesting ideas.