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From: Peter Wilson <>
Subject: [London-Companys] Amsterdam Guilds
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 06:37:48 +0000
In-Reply-To: <200008250600.e7P60bD09106@lists5.rootsweb.com>


Comparison with Amsterdam guilds in 1688

Simply knowing the statistics of London does not give one a sense of scale.
One must compare London with other times and places to understand what makes
it unique. Comparative urban sociology and economics have grown as academic
disciplines in the past 30 years. It is natural to compare London with
parallel Dutch, German, French, Italian (including ancient Roman), Spanish,
Ottoman, Persian, Mughal and Chinese urban economies 1300-1750 C. E...
Please forgive me if the relevance to your own ancestors seems remote, and
the "end date" 1750 arbitrary. Readers from Australia and India can pick
up the story of London emigrants after 1750, and help us understand the
sort of mercantile companies which their British forebears created in the
Far East. Let us know how they balanced their military, commercial, social
and spiritual lives.

The obvious continental city to compare with 17th century London is not
Bordeaux, Paris or Antwerp, as in previous centuries, but with the
Protestant, republican emporium of Amsterdam. Amsterdam was the most
densely populated and richest city in Europe, despite the 80 year war
(1566-1648) with Spain. Hapsburg armies created havoc in the eastern
Netherlands, Brabant and Flanders, and finally humbled the great medieval
Flemish emporium of Antwerp in 1587. Amsterdam was spared, and became a
haven for Flemish and other displaced craftsmen, yet the population of
Amsterdam reached a high of 240,000 in the 1720's and declined to 217,024
after 1790. (Other Flemings fled, particularly in 1568, to East Anglia and
Essex, where name "Cornelius" became popular for a few generations.)

The Dutch republic had a smaller area and population than England. De Vries
estimates the Dutch population by year: 1500= 1,000,000; 1550= 1,300,000;
1600= 1,600,000; 1650= 1,900,000; 1700= 1,950,000; 1750= 1,950,000,
showing little increase but reaching about 2,100,000 by 1800. (p. 572) Not
only was Amsterdam smaller than London, but it did not dominate the Dutch
economy as London dominated the English economy. 45% of the population of
Holland lived in towns. Many of Amsterdam's fellow cities were comparable
in size and productivity to England's "second city" of Bristol. De Vries
estimates populations of the 10 largest Dutch cities in 1622 (p.64):

Amsterdam ................104,932
Leiden ....................44,745
Haarlem ...................39,455
Delft & Defshaven..........22,769
Enkhuizen .................20,967
Rotterdam .................19,532
Dordrecht .................18,270
The Hague .................15,825
Gouda .....................14,627
Hoorn .....................14,139

Amsterdam magistrates encouraged the formation of guilds in previously
unorganized occupations to regulate commerce, and maintain public order.
Consequently the number of guilds doubled in the century after the Revolt,
and a third of the adult males became guild members.

DeVries shows the importance of various sectors of the economy by the
average income of workers earning over 600 guilders in 16 Dutch cities
during the year 1742. He does not chart every guild contributing to each of
these sectors of the economy. (p. 573)

1024 government workers averaged .........4746 guilders
2802 wholesale traders averaged ..........3080 guilders
4336 Rentiers etc. averaged ..............2222 guilders
852 manufacturers averaged ...............1981 guilders
614 administrators averaged .............1660 guilders
726 medical workers averaged .............1364 guilders
4084 retail traders averaged .............1062 guilders
613 construction workers average ..........996 guilders
520 transportation workers averaged .......970 guilders

DeVries does, however, average the 1742 income of seven specific professions
in his 16 cities:

94 Lawyers averaged ......................2741 guilders
84 bankers averaged ......................1979 guilders
174 clergymen averaged ...................1979 guilders
158 millers averaged .....................1125 guilders
(wind-powered mills handled lumber, grain and other materials)
223 butchers averaged ....................1864 guilders
113 schoolmasters averaged ................896 guilders
145 tailors averaged ......................806 guilders

The orphanage (Burgerweeshuis) of Amsterdam was supported by part of fees
paid by merchants and craftsmen to become citizens. Like the freedom of
London, citizenship could also be obtained by marrying the daughter of a
burgher. The fee rose as high as 50 guilders during the 1650's but was
lowered to 28 stuivers in 1668 because the higher fee hindered useful
crafts, and the laws regarding burgher rights (poorterschap) were difficult
to administer and easily evaded. If fees were evaded, orphanage officials
lost revenue and demanded their enforcement. As a result 37 guilds had to
submit lists of their members in 1688, indicating which members were native
to Amsterdam and which had to purchase citizenship. Amsterdam had fewer
than the 80+ guilds of London, because several Dutch trades were represented
by each guild. A sample from Murray (pp. 78-80):

members .................associated guilds
881.............................tailors & merchants in new & used clothing
658.............................cobblers, including 94 who made wooden shoes
645.............................ribbon & lace makers
604.............................glass, pottery & tankard makers
600.............................house carpenters & furniture makers*
521.............................hatters, who could hire unlimited help**
400.............................master ship carpenters
362.............................coopers & wine cask makers
343.............................shoemakers & tanners (huidenkoopers)***
334.............................gold & silversmiths
238.............................metalworkers, with 7 specialties****
165.............................plasterers (metselaars) & stone masons*****
164.............................cloth preparers
(lakenbereidersgildebroeders)
87................................tinsmiths, tinkers & spoon makers
36................................furriers

* Carpenters included makers of furniture, chairs, stocks for muskets and
pistols, chests, wooden gears for looms, yardsticks, woodworkers, wood
planers and ebony workers.
** Prior to 1687 hatters could employ only 8 workmen.
*** The number includes 45 basket weavers.
****St. Eloyengilde included locksmiths, coppersmiths, cutlers, ship
chandlers and sword makers.
***** Stone masons also worked in wood.

>From the orphanage's list one can deduce much about the economic priorities
of Amsterdam, but just as much is concealed. The St. Lucas Guild, for
instance, included house painters, glass makers & artists, for instance, and
it is estimated that perhaps 10% of its members were fine artists, carvers &
sculptors. This mixing of trades in nearby Delft led to a revolutionary
exchange between Van Leeuwenhoek and Vermeer, using new optical devices and
theories & the camera obscura. Over a thousand fine artists worked in 17th
century Amsterdam, patronized by the rich merchants. (See Hoogenwerff in
bibliography)

Membership in the military guilds, or schutterij, made famous by Rembrandt's
"Night Watch," did not admit one to the governing burgomaster elite. The
schutterij were comparable to a city police force and national guard.
"Armed with pike and musket they guarded the city's walls, gates, and
bridges, went on campaigns outside the city, and stood watch against natural
catastrophes such as flood and fire", and loved to parade their feathered
finery. (Murray, p. 23)

The Amsterdam shipbuilding industry, like London's industries with bulk
input, faced competition from the countryside. About 5% of the industrial
labor force of Holland depended on building, repairing and replacing a fleet
of over 2000 vessels. Technical innovations after 1550 included fast,
maneuverable "flyboats" of shallow draught and low center of gravity, with
small, easily handled square sails which could tack against the wind,
suitable for small Baltic ports. Such boats were exported to England,
France and even Spain. This craft enabled William the Silent's "sea
beggars" to resist the bulky Spanish vessels. Another innovation was the
large "heringbus," with crews that stayed at sea for months and processed
the herring on board.

Economic development had periods of reverse also. The volume of Dutch
shipping in the 1730's was over 400,000 tons, more than that of France or
England. By the 1780's Dutch builders fell behind due to lagging
innovation, and innovators made it possible for French and British fleets to
increase their carrying capacity to 700,000 tons and 1,000,000 tons.

Sawyers' guilds in Amsterdam and other cities resisted the introduction
technical innovations, including windmill-driven saws, so the sawmills moved
to the countryside, where land for storage of bulky timber and labor where
cheaper, transport less crowded, and access to wind available in unobscured
lines along the dikes and rivers.

Ministers and scholars had no guilds, but many were influential in public
life. Diamond cutters and setters began to work in Amsterdam about 1600,
too late to be included in an existing guild. Lesser trades outside the
guild system are recalled in the names of alleys where their trades were
practiced or their stalls placed. We still find shoelacemakers street,
pencilmakers street, threadmakers street, skullcapmakers lane, shuttlemakers
lane, razormakers lane, sievemakers lane, drummakers lane, corkcutters lane,
crocheters lane, combmakers lane, claspmakers lane, and diamond street.
Many of these minor trades did not attract enough outside journeyman,
hoping to become citizens, to justify pursuit by the orphanage fee
collectors.

Certainly there was plenty of craft work. 360 categories of merchandise
were included in a listing of current prices in 1635. By 1686 there were
505 categories of merchandise. (Murray, p. 75)

Amsterdam was also THE northern emporium for munitions manufacture (based on
Dutch-owned iron mines and works in Sweden), textiles and bulk trade in fish
(herring, whales etc.), grain, drugs and many other commodities. The
textile production of Amsterdam, dependent upon the supply of English wool,
rose after the humbling of Antwerp. But capital-intensive industrial
windmills, refineries, ship construction and wharves provided more steady
employment than the textile industry.

Hanseatic cities connecting Italy with the Baltic via German rivers
declined after the discovery of America. Two Atlantic ports, Amsterdam and
Hamburg, soon controlled more than 80% of the Baltic trade. For historic
reasons, including the 80 year war for independence from Spain, Protestant,
republican Amsterdam became the banking center of northern Europe,
especially after the seizure of the Spanish bullion fleet in 1628. It also
excelled in cartography and printing books. In 17th century Amsterdam more
than 40 printers published some 80,000 titles (many devotional, of all
denominations) in all written European languages, including Arabic.
British scholars such as Matthew Slade, Hugh Broughton, John Robinson, Henry
Ainsworth and John Paget studied and published in Amsterdam.

Hugo Grotius was forced by frequent conflicts (including three wars with
England) of Amsterdam's explorer-traders in the 17th century to formulate
an "international law." Only after the Stewarts were bribed by Louis XIV to
abandon the traditional Dutch alliance of Henry VIII, Cromwell and de Witt,
did London begin to wrest northern European trade from Amsterdam.

English income per capita did not exceed Dutch income per capita until after
1780. Dutch income was distributed differently then from now. In 1742 the
top 20% of Dutch workers claimed 56% of total personal income. In 1990 the
top 20% of Dutch workers claimed only 37% of net personal income today. In
comparison with England, Peter Lindert and Jeffery Williamson estimate that
in 1688, 1759 & 1801 the top 10% of English workers claimed a larger share
of total personal income than their Dutch counterparts, but that the second
10% of English workers earned a smaller share of total personal income than
their Dutch brethren.

------------------------------------------------------
Sources:
John J. Murray, "Amsterdam in the age of Rembrandt," pub. 1967 by University
of Oklahoma Press, pp. 48-90.

Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, "The First Modern Economy" pub. 1997 by
Cambridge University Press. This volume summarizes modern research
thoroughly, insightfully and succinctly and has an excellent bibliography.

See also:
Violet Barbour, "Capitalism in Amsterdam in the 17th Century," pub. 1950 by
Johns Hopkins Press.

Herbert Bloom, "The Economic Activities of the Jews in Amsterdam in the 17th
and 18th Centuries," pub 1937 by Bayard Press.

Charles Boxer, "The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600-1800," pub. 1965 by Alfred
Knopf and by Hutchinson.

Alice Carter, "The English Reformed Church in Amsterdam," pub 1964 by
Scheltema and Holkema.

Johan Elias, "De Vroedschap [burgomasters] van Amsterdam 1578-1795," pub
1905 by V. Loosjes.

Pieter Geyl, "The Netherlands in the 17th Century," pub. 1964 by Ernest
Benn.

Lodovico Guiccardini, "Description of the Low Countries," pub. 1593 in
London.

G. J. Hoogenwerff, "De Geschiedenis van de St. Lucasgilden in Nederland,"
pub 1947 by P. N. van Campen. The author traces the development of the
artist's guild from the construction crafts' Lieve Vrouwegilde.

Henri Pirenne, "Early Democracies in the Low Countries [1000-1500]," pub.
1915 by Manchester University Press. Pirenne gives an excellent overview of
the development of the guilds, and urban economic policy.

G. D. Ramsay, "The Queen's Merchants and the Revolt of the Netherlands,"
pub. 1986 by Manchester University Press.

Simon Schama, "The embarrassment of Riches, An Interpretation of Dutch
Culture in the Golden Age [1600-1720?]," pub. 1988 by University of CA.

Johannes van Dillen [1883-1969], "Bronnen tot de geschiedenis van het
bedrijfslevn en hat gildewezen van Amsterdam [1512-1672]," v. 1-3 pub. by M.
Nijhoff [1929-1974]. Many pages were uncut (and unseen) in my university
library copy, and the transcriptions are lengthy, but the indexes help one
locate individuals.

Arthur van Schendel, "John Company," a novel about Dutch traders in
Indonesia, pub. 1983 by University of MA press.

Jan Wagenaar, "Amsterdam, in Zijne Opkomst, Aanwas, Gescheidenissen,
Voorregten, Koophandel, Gebouwen, Kerkenstraat, Schoolen, Schutterije,
GILDEN en Regeeringen," pub. 1765 by I. Tiron in Amsterdam.

CORRECTIONS? ADDITIONS? COMMENTS?

Who has worked with Dutch records? The Dutch revolt was the 'seminary' of
English soldiers, from Philip Sidney to John Smith, throughout the reign of
Elizabeth I, an experience Jacobeans brought with them to America.


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