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C. Lesger

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Response, Clé Lesger
In my book I have linked Amsterdam's remarkable trade expansion to the radical reorientation of the spatial economy in the Low Countries and the collapse of the gateway-system that had been in operation for the greater part of the sixteenth century. The shock that triggered this change was the Revolt and the politico-military schism of the north (the Republic) and the south (the Spanish Low Countries). During the reorientation process, Amsterdam was able to get hold of the flow of commodities and information previously shared between a number of different key sites in the Low Countries, and this did not remain confined to the existing flow of goods and information. With its expansion towards Asia and the Atlantic area, Amsterdam's commercial network grew to unprecedented proportions, and this too was fundamentally different to the situation in Antwerp prior to 1585.


With reference to Veluwenkamp's second discussion point, I wish to emphasize that it was never my intention to undermine the importance of Amsterdam's intermediate trade. Instead, I was trying to make it clear that far from having the same features as staple trade, the intermediate trade of the early modern period bore a much closer resemblance to modern intermediate trade. Furthermore, in concordance with modern literature, I do not attribute the industry-related import and export flows to intermediate trade. Goods that were traded by the merchants of Amsterdam, but which never crossed the Republic's borders, of course fell under the category of intermediate trade. However, it has proved impossible to establish just how extensive this flow of goods and information actually was, and this is why I have been deliberately cautious about commenting on its importance to Amsterdam's intermediate trade.


Contrary to what Gelderblom appears to suggest, I am not of the opinion that the merchantmigrants from the Southern Low Countries, particularly Antwerp, were the root cause of Amsterdam's commercial heyday (see above). However, my analysis of the archive of the Bank of Amsterdam does clearly show that the Southern Low Countries merchant-migrants were certainly more active and successful than average. In addition, when recalculated, the figures in Table 1 of Gelderblom's review also support this conclusion. I searched for the key to the successful business acumen of the Southern Low Countries migrants in different areas, including: their participation in existing and newly established trading networks set up by their fellow kinsmen; their capital; and, the knowledge possessed by several prominent merchants who originally hailed from Antwerp, as well as in the isolated position occupied by Southern-Low Countries migrant-merchants in Amsterdam society. Up until about 1630 they were exempted from many social functions in their new locality and so invested relatively more time and energy in trade.


This response is part of the discussion forum 'Handel in Amsterdam' (Clé Lesger).

How to Cite: Lesger, C., 2003. Repliek. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 118(1), pp.58–63. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2003.


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