The_Necessity_and_Consequences_of_Intern

The_Necessity_and_Consequences_of_Intern - The Necessity...

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1 The Necessity and Consequences of Internationalisation: Maritime Work in the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Jelle van Lottum, University of Birmingham Introduction In his essay ‘Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands’ (1694) Sir William Temple, the renowned English diplomat and essayist, wrote that the Dutch Republic was ‘the envy of some, the fear of others, and the wonder of all their neighbours’. 1 Having travelled through Continental Europe, Temple had spent considerable time in the Dutch Republic and had been involved in Anglo-Dutch diplomacy. He would surely have been aware of the remarkable position this relatively small seafaring nation had achieved. And though by the time the essay was published the Dutch Golden Age had lost much of its lustre, the Dutch Republic’s demise was very much a relative decline. By the end of the eighteenth century it was no longer Europe’s principle commercial and naval nation, but economically it was still among Europe’s front- runners. 2 Various explanations have been offered to account for the economic success of the Dutch Republic. Jan de Vries emphasised the importance of agricultural specialisation as well as a strong internal transport network; 3 the availability of cheap energy in the form of peat has also been highlighted as a possible explanatory factor. 4 The Dutch Republic was, however, first and foremost a ‘Seaborne Empire’, 5 and its maritime endeavours, and by extension its colonial 1 The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations , Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 4. 2 D E V RIES J. AND V AN DER W OUDE , A., The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500–1815 , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997. 3 D E V RIES J., The Dutch Rural Economy in the Golden Age, 1500–1700 , New Haven, Yale University Press, 1974; D E V RIES , J., Barges and Capitalism: Passenger Transportation in the Dutch Economy, 1632–1839 , Wageningen, A.A.G. Bijdragen no. 21, 1978. 4 D E V RIES , J. AND V AN DER W OUDE , A., The First Modern Economy. 5 B OXER , C.R., The Dutch Seaborne Empire , 1600–1800, Hammondsworth, Pelican Penguin, 1973.
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2 expansion, have been widely regarded as key drivers behind its economic success. 6 Even during the eighteenth century, a period of stagnation for the Dutch economy, the maritime sector was still one of the most dynamic sectors on the continent. 7 The Dutch Republic’s success is all the more remarkable given its small population. Around 1700 England had a population of a little more than five million inhabitants (though its population would mushroom in the century that followed and also, England became part of the larger political entity Great Britain, uniting with Scotland in 1707), Spain had a population of around eight million and France circa twenty-two million.
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