This is a study of the development of Barcelona's cotton industry from its origins in calico-printing in 1728 to its introduction of steampower in 1832. It thus describes the experiences of the leading industry of the city, and one which provides the only Mediterranean exception to the tendency of early industrialization to be concentrated in northern Europe. The book bridges the 'pre-industrial' and early 'industrial' periods, offering answers to such questions as: what caused 'merchant capital' to move into industrial investment? what were the links between 'pre-industrial' industrial activity and industrialization proper? is it apt to refer to the economic changes of these years as an 'industrial revolution'? should industrialization be studied on a regional or a national basis? A further purpose is to provide an interpretation of the characteristics of the Catalan economy and of its relationship to that of Spain as a whole thereby contributing to the understanding of the 'Catalan question'.
'The part played by Barcelona and Catalonia in Spain's development has always been distinctive, and continues to be so; but there is virtually nothing in English on the subject, and J. K. J. Thomson's detailed study is a substantial and original contribution ... Thomson's monograph provides a well-balanced, long-term perspective constructed on a solid basis of fact: it is an exemplary study.' The Times Literary Supplement 'Among its other qualities, this work constitutes an exemplary history of business activity. The wealth of detail on the financial and operational structure of firms, the behaviour of entrepreneurs, the evolution of managerial skills and the nature of the work process is woven into the story with an awesome assurance. The range of themes illuminated is impressive. The deft employment of diverse source material is equally laudable.' Business History 'It is curious that the pioneering region in Spain's industrialization, Catalonia, has lacked a modern, comprehensive study of its early industrial growth ... J. K. J. Thomson has stepped in to fill this gap with a systematic survey of the force behind eighteenth-century Catalan industrial production, cotton textiles. The results are impressive.' James Amelang, American Historical Review 'Thomson's fascinating account is largely descriptive and chronological ... although there are constant references to what he sees as the four major conditioning factors on the industry's growth ... I found his scholarship impeccable, his style highly readable, and his knowledge of complex historiography amost unrivalled.' Joseph Harrison, Economic History Review 'Professor Thomson combines painstaking attention to archival data with strong collegial recognition of the excellent work which has advanced Catalan historiography about this period' Gary W McDonogh, Journal of Social History 'J. K. J. Thomson's book, which synthesizes his own work over many years and those of several other scholars, clearly aims at filling the void left Vilar, and will in all probability become the definitive book on the premodern stage of the industry for the foreseeable future...an excellent piece of research and intelligent interpretation.' Gabriel Tortella, Journal of Economic History ' ... the book will appeal to a broad range of scholars interested in various aspects of the industrialization process.' Pamela Radcliff, Journal of Modern History