Sixteenth-century Europe was powered by commerce. Whilst mercantile groups from many areas prospered, those from the Low Countries were particularly successful. This study, based on extensive archival research, charts the ascent of the merchants established around Antwerp. Puttevils explores the unique factors that account for their success, and places them within the social and economic context of their time. This ground-breaking study re-evaluates Antwerp as the crucible of European commercial institutions.