The original land-holding aristocracy, which had probably initiated and for a time monopolized commerce, was partly supplanted by prosperous upstarts, and with the general increase of prosperity began to lose its hold upon the community of artisans.
Abroad its navigators monopolized the commerce of the world, and explored unknown seas; at home the Dutch school of painting reached its acme in Rembrandt (1607-1669); and the philological reputation of the country was sustained by Grotius, Vossius and the elder Heinsius.
As the equites practically monopolized the farming of the taxes, they came to be regarded as identical with the publicani, not, as Pliny remarks, because any particular rank was necessary to obtain the farming of the taxes, but because such occupation was beyond the reach of all except those who were possessed of considerable means.
A great quantity of tobacco is also grown; it is wholly monopolized by the crown.
As early as the beginning of the 17th century Havana depended on this supply to furnish the fleets of royal ships which monopolized trade between Spain and America.
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