The Cosmopolitan Businessman: World and Worldview of Greek Merchant-Entrepreneurs


Series: Political Science and History

BISAC: POL000000

Ariadni Moutafidou, a well-known historian who wrote extensively about the history of Greece in modern times, focuses in her newest book, The Cosmopolitan Businessman, on the nineteenth century history of the Greek mercantile diaspora in its time of prominence. Drawing on a wide range and variety of research Moutafidou examines entrepreneurial networks formed across geographic boundaries in land and sea relating cultures, ideology and mentalities with economic practice and business performance.

The author investigates cases of distinguished personalities and prominent Greek merchant-entrepreneurs and shipowners shedding light on their activities and ideas, and on how they appraised their business and their competitors. Vikelas, the first President of the International Olympic Committee, along with the Melas, Mavros and Basileiou families, Malta-based broker Pappaffy, an influential businessman of the British and Mediterranean economic world and a celebrated philanthropist, the Rallis, Petrocochinos and Salvagos, Syngros and the Zarifis, are only few of the many captivating figures appearing in the book.

Moutafidou thoroughly looks into sources such as memoirs, literature, archives, commercial trade books, the press as well as family records and references made by rival businessmen. She compares various historical times, regions and ethnic groups, and draws useful parallels and/or differences with the Greek case. In the process, she investigates the relations between distinct, ethnic mercantile communities, using the Greek case in particular and the paradigm of leading Jewish merchant-bankers West and East, such as the Bischoffsheims, Oppenheims, or Camondos, and exploring the themes of internationalization, competition and cooperation, risk and innovation. Her method allows her to enrich our knowledge about early globalization, about the importance of liberalism, and the operation of capitalist activity.

An original book, unique in its field. Historians, their students, and an interested public as well, will greatly appreciate this significant contribution to the study of economic, social and cultural history of the Greek mercantile diaspora, Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Table of Contents


Explanatory Notes


Chapter 1. Commerce, the Merchant, and Morality in Seventeenth Century Europe and in the Nineteenth Century Levant

Chapter 2. World and Worldview of Greek Merchant Families: The Testimony of Demetrius Vikelas

Chapter 3.The Mediterranean Merchant: Identities and Charities of Giovanni di Niccolo Pappaffy

Chapter 4. Greek Merchant-Entrepreneurs and Jewish Bankers in Nineteenth Century Europe and the Levant: Connections, Cooperation and Perceptions

Concluding Remarks

Sources and Bibliography



“Professor Ariadni Moutafidou, a renowned historian and expert in the field of Modern Greek socio-economic history, explores in her innovative superb and sophisticated book on the Greek ‘big’ merchant-entrepreneurs, not only their mercantile operations, but mainly their thoughts, views, ideas, notions and beliefs within their own and the ‘outer’ world. Her broadened research encompasses the remarkable rise of Greek long-distance trade and shipping in the Mediterranean followed by their significant entrance into the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans during their golden era from the mid-eighteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. Based on various rare autobiographical accounts, ego documents and commercial guidebooks as well as complementary archival documents and oral history preserved in second and third generation family accounts, the author firstly outlines the commercial culture of these businessmen. Ariadni Moutafidou then argues that the Greek merchant-entrepreneurs’ world and operations with extended international, economic and socio-economic networks, serve not only as a paradigm, but also constitute an integral, constitutive part of the merchant-entrepreneurs’ cosmopolitan world within the broader European-Mediterranean milieu during the nineteenth century. The Cosmopolitan Businessman broadened the research on the economic, social and cultural worldview of merchant-entrepreneurs, as well as on the interrelations between the ethnic mercantile communities. This rich, in-depth oeuvre offers a welcome challenge and contribution to the cultural, social and economic history of trading Diasporas including the interaction between them and their Jewish counterparts as described by the Greek merchants. Therefore, I strongly recommend publication of the manuscript.” – Orly C. Meron, PhD, Associate Professor, Former Head of the Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Author of Jewish Entrepreneurship in Salonica, 1912-1940: An Ethnic Economy in Transition, Sussex Academic Press, 2011/2013

“I have been acquainted with Dr. Ariadni Moutafidou’s research for many years and am delighted to recommend her book for publication. Dr. Moutafidou is a highly regarded historian whose research presents a fine combination of substantial use of archival material and behavioral theories and models. Her articles have been published in respected journals and in collected volumes. The present book is an original investigation of the social and cultural world of Greek big merchant-entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century. It is the product of an exhaustive and wide-ranging research, based on an impressive collection of primary sources, autobiographical accounts of businessmen, personal papers and commercial reports and other relevant archival documents. This group of businessmen had a great impact in various areas on the development of Greek economy and society. The results of their activities were felt in many important urban centers in the Near and Middle East. This research is a significant contribution to Greek economic history in particular and to nineteenth century history of entrepreneurship in general. It will constitute an important source of documentation for historians in this field as well as for economists specializing in international trade and business networks. On these grounds, I warmly recommend the publication of this excellent manuscript.” -Prof. Jeannine Horowitz, Head Program of Hellenic Studies, University of Haifa

“I have known Dr. Ariadni Moutafidou for almost two decades and held her and her historical research in great esteem. I have read the manuscript of her latest work, The Cosmopolitan Businessman, with interest and I think it is minutely researched, carefully argued, and elegantly presented. It brings to life the complex world of Greek merchant entrepreneurs in the nineteenth century, seen in the broader context of historical developments in the Near and Middle East. It will definitely be of interest to specialists in the field but its informative and narrative virtues will also be appreciated by any reader with broader historical interests. I therefore have no hesitation in recommending its publication.” -Pantelis Lekkas BA (Sussex) PhD (Cantab), Professor of Political Sociology, Faculty of Political Science & Public Administration, University of Athens, Greece

“Building upon a profound historical knowledge, from which my own studies on European Philhellenism have very much profited, Moutafidou’s scholarship embarks on new explorations of the factors shaping the physiognomy of the 19th century Mediterranean world. The cosmopolitan Businessman offers a vivid account of and an erudite study on the trajectories of entrepreneurial action in intercultural spirit. The book maps persuasively the contribution of Greek merchants to the formation of the First Globalisation. An indispensable reading.” -Dr. Dr. Konstadinos Maras, Research Fellow Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI), Essen University of Duisburg-Essen

“This original study opens new avenues to our understanding of the social and cultural world of Greek entrepreneurs of the modern era. It offers fascinating insights into the ideas and concepts of rising entrepreneurs in a traditional economy that has undergone processes of modernization. Historians of Greek economic and social history as well as economists specializing in international trade and business networks will certainly be delighted to read this book.” -Prof. Gad Gilbar, University of Haifa

“This innovative book of Ariadni Moutafidou is an original investigation of the economic, social and cultural world of Greek merchant-entrepreneurs in their time of prominence. Moutafidou, a highly regarded historian who wrote extensively about the history of Greece in modern times, explores the mercantile operations of prominent Greek businessmen and their entrepreneurial networks extended across geographic boundaries connecting culture, ideology and mentalities with economic practice and business performance. The world and worldview of Greek merchant-entrepreneurs, the author argues, do not just serve as a paradigm, but constitute an integral part of the merchant-entrepreneurs’ cosmopolitan world within the broader European-Mediterranean milieu during the nineteenth century. Exploring the complex ways in which traditional societies / international business communities go through complex processes of modernization, adopting, resisting or negotiating with the West or rather with modernity, Moutafidou offers fascinating views in their ideas, concepts and understandings…READ MORE HERE>>>” – Alexandros Dagkas, Emeritus Professor in Social History, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Faculty of Educational Sciences, GR – 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece

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