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Causal Pattern Analysis of Economic Sovereignty



CaPANES is an ERC funded international project (ERC Consolidator Grant nr 101044356), hosted at Tilburg University, which studies economic sovereignty of cities in the period of c. 1450-c. 1650, with a view on the present day. The project is embedded within the I-HILT research group and the Department of Public Law and Governance. It starts in January 2023.


The project analyzes sovereignty from an economic angle, both in history and today. The legal concept of sovereignty does not capture foreign trade relations, networks or economic clout. This shortcoming has resulted from a historical reduction of its meaning since the 1600s. Therefore, the CaPANES team studies legal concepts of sovereignty, as legal thinking related thereto, dating before this time. 

In the period of c. 1450-1620 legal concepts of sovereignty were crafted bottom-up and were more encompassing than the present-day legal concept of sovereignty, also for economic relations. These concepts absorbed changes within the cities and in the economic relations between cities.


The dynamism of conceptual change at the level of individual cities related to commercial, political and social developments, which will be assessed with agent-based modelling. These developments influenced institutional set-ups, constitutional approaches, the organization of trade and policies of access toward foreigners.


At the level of networks between cities, dynamics impacting on sovereignty concepts related to foreign relations and yielded features different to developments within cities. Network analysis will make it possible to detect the dispersal and weight of sovereignty concepts and whether some concepts underpinned a transnational field of sovereignty.


Causal patterns underlying change will be the outcome of this research into the cities and their networks, and these patterns will be used to reflect on an updated legal concept of economic sovereignty.


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