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The term “merchant” has undergone an evolution in meaning through three distinct phases since the early Middle Ages. According to Charles Gross,

At first it embraced all who, in their trade, were in any way concerned with buying and selling, including petty shopkeepers and many handicraftsmen. During the fifteenth and the greater part of the sixteenth century, it applied preeminently to all who made a business of buying and selling for resale—retailers as well as wholesalers—manual craftsmen not included. It then came to have its present meaning of an extensive dealer.[75]


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