a merchant is someone who buys something. The noun mercantilism came from the Latin mercans, or "buyer." It was a system that encouraged the idea of government trade regulation to gain wealth, a move away from agriculture system as an economic base. Although largely rejected today, it was the main school of economic thought from the 15th through the 18th Centuries, and was the push behind much of the exploration and colonization of other lands and many of the wars that happened during that time.
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