Merchantilist Law and Legal Definition
Mercantilism was the dominant economic theory in Europe throughout the late Renaissance and early modern period (from the 15th-18th century). Mercantilism encouraged many intra-European conflicts and fueled European expansion and imperialism until the 19th century or early 20th century. The policies during this period promoted export of products and limiting imports through tariffs, etc. The mercantilists argued that a large population was a form of wealth, making it possible to create bigger markets and armies, as opposed to the doctrine of physiocracy that predicted that mankind would outgrow its resources.
Adam Smith and David Hume are considered to be the founding fathers of anti-mercantilist thought. A number of scholars were critical of mercantilism long before Adam Smith developed an ideology that could fully replace it. The word "mercantilist" remains a pejorative term, often used to attack various forms of protectionism.