- 1 A. Wegener Sleeswyk, 2003; R.W. Unger, 1978, 1997.
- 2 C.A. Davids, 1985.
- 3 G.V. Scammell, 1981; J.D. Tracy, 1990.
- 4 H. Van der Wee, 1990, p. 14-33; N. Steensgaard, 1990, p. 102-152; W. Barrett, 1990, p. 224-254.
- 5 P.E. Steinberg, 2001, Ch. 3: Ocean-space and merchant capitalism and Ch. 4: Ocean-space and indus (...)
1It is commonly acknowledged that maritime transport was the foremost important engine of economic growth in the Early Modern world. Improved techniques in shipbuilding1 and navigation2 facilitated discoveries3, but also lead to change in the structure of international trade4 and to a shift in the focus of diplomacy and international politics5. From the late Middle Ages and throughout the Early Modern period, maritime transport emerged as an economic activity of great importance, which is reflected in the continuous efforts of cities, regions, and nations to expand and secure their interests through various kinds of economic partnerships, diplomatic agreements and – when deemed necessary – warfare.
- 6 H.J. Den Heijer, 2005, p. 64-68.
- 7 J.D. Tracy, 1990.
- 8 S. Hart, 1977, p. 106-125; F.J.A. Broeze, 1977, p. 106-116; R.S. WegenerSleeswyk, 1996, p. 52-72; (...)
- 9 S. Hart, 1977, p. 106.
2In long-distance trade, transportation services were often an integrated part of commercial exchange, and were either the responsibility of chartered companies exerting exclusive rights on colonial routes to the East- and West-Indies6, or of “specialist” merchant firms who controlled trade at specific locations7. On short and relatively safe distances transportation was outsourced to third parties, which often were established and maintained with the financial support of merchants. This was the case in Baltic trade, where joint stock companies (partenrederijen)8 and shipmasters-entrepreneurs (rederij van één reder) were prominent providers of maritime transport services already in the sixteenth century9.
- 10 J.M. Fuchs, 1946, p. 226-251; E. Baasch, 1898; Ordonnantie, 1663.
- 11 M. Morineau, 1983, p. 31-32.
3The integration of trade on a global scale, heralded by monopolistic companies and merchant firms leveraging colonial possessions from the early seventeenth century, was parallelled by the introduction of novel practices in the organisation of short-distance maritime transport. Regular transportation services were established on dense national and international routes, linking centres of trade like Amsterdam, London, Rouen, Hamburg and Bremen10. As Michel Morineau righteously pointed out, Early Modern Baltic trade unfolded on the basis of changes in demand and supply and in accordance with a human and quasi-natural logic that implies nurturing exchanges with exchanges as well as the existence of mutual relations between producers and consumers. Indeed, Baltic commerce is conditioned as much by change West of the Sound as it is influenced by change East of the Sound11. Therefore, any analysis of Baltic commerce would be seriously flawed if either part of the “whole” would be neglected, and this is equally true when Baltic transportation is observed.
- 12 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 4. The term “mother of all trades” was coined for the first time by Joha (...)
4The bulk of European commercial exchange was executed by merchants operating as individuals or in small businesses, far away from monopolies, exclusive rights and privileges. These entrepreneurs exploited family, descent, and religion to establish commercial networks from which they expected to benefit in one way or another. It is in this context that we situate a case-study on grain transportation through the Sound at Elsinore in the eighteenth century. The market for Baltic grain was highly competitive. There was no single producer, and demand varied from year to year. Throughout the Early Modern era, the Dutch Baltic grain trade was known by contemporaries as the “Mother of all trades” or moedernegotie, pointing out its vital importance for the Early Modern Dutch economy12. Still, the role of the maritime transport sector in the Dutch Baltic grain trade has not yet been the subject of thorough analysis.
- 13 J. De Vries, 1959, p. 28-29.
- 14 P.C. Van Royen, 1987, p. 17.
- 15 P.C. Van Royen, 1998, p. 86-87.
5The goal of this paper is to explain trends and fluctuations in the location of the Dutch maritime transport sector in the eighteenth century, focusing primarily on grain transports in the eighteenth century. By adopting a functional approach in which hinterland, foreland and maritime transport are the fundamental components of trade routes, the paper aims to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the maritime transport sector, its structure and its role in the Dutch commercial system of the eighteenth century. Such a contribution is deemed to be relevant for a number of reasons. First of all, in his seminal work on the economic decline of the Dutch Republic in the eighteenth century, Johannes de Vries acknowledges that very little is known and can be said about the development of the Dutch maritime transport sector13. Second, in Dutch historiography, maritime transport organisation is dominated by two viewpoints. One opinion is that shipmasters were not specialized in certain routes or products, but moved randomly across the seas in search for available cargoes14. Elsewhere, it is argued that the opposite was true and that the appearance of new routes coincided with the emergence of new shipmasters’ domiciles in the structure of the maritime economy15. Both viewpoints ignore market entry constraints, path dependence, positive and negative lock-in or access to operational knowledge as relevant to the structure of maritime transport. Third, maritime transportation is a topic that is usually treated in relation to trade streams, good flows and merchant networks, but only rarely receives more profound attention, almost as if transportation can be assumed to be a fully integrated part of these streams, flows and networks, not requiring specific attention. Therefore, in this paper, an attempt is made to show that through analysis of transport routes and the role that local shipping communities played in their exploitation, the development of the Dutch maritime transport sector in the eighteenth century can be addressed and described in an innovative way.
6In this paper, I propose to study the demand for maritime transport from an economic-geographical perspective, arguing that changes in hinterland and foreland had reciprocal effects on the spatial structure of maritime transport. The changing spatial structure of maritime transport can be used to identify and assess changes in maritime business strategies. Market entry constraints, path dependence and access to operational knowledge are important influences on these maritime business strategies, and gaining insight in their structure and evolution is necessary to understand the changing geography of demand for maritime transport in the eighteenth century.
7Using a dynamic geographic information system with semantically enriched data on good flows and ship movements, an attempt will be made to answer the following questions: (1) Who needed maritime transport? And (2) Who fulfilled these needs for maritime transport?
- 16 The Danish Sound toll registers are being digitized in a joint project of the University of Groni (...)
- 17 G.M. Welling, 2009. On line resource: http://www.let.rug.nl/welling/sont/
- 18 The following products constitute the category grain: Grain, unspecified (Da. Korn, unspecf., cod (...)
- 19 W. Scheltjens, 2009.
- 20 The conversion is based on data from H. Doursther, 1965.
- 21 W. Scheltjens, 2009.
8The data set used in this paper is extracted from the ongoing digitization project STR online16 and completed with the database of Sound traffic in the years 1784-1795, created by Hans Christian Johansen and edited by George Welling in 200917. The current stage of execution of this project imposes some limitations to the use of the data set. First of all, the standardization of cargo data has been limited to the items listed by Hans Christian Johansen under the codes 1400 to 1490, which were regrouped in this paper into the broad category grain18. Second, conversion of pre-modern weights and measures did not include local differences between them, as is the case in Werner Scheltjens19. Instead, conversion to metric equivalent values was limited to one value per weight or measure20. Third, some measures could not be conversed to metric equivalents and were omitted in the statistical procedures. This affected less than 2% of all grain cargoes shipped through the Sound in the years 1699-1795. The remaining quantities have been conversed to litres first, and were then indexed to simplify calculations. Fourth, since data input has not yet been double-checked with the original tax records of the Danish customs office at Elsinore, it is inevitable that it contains errors. Nevertheless, the statistics generated on the basis of our data set fully comply with existing statistics, although the estimated volumes transported seem to be significantly lower than earlier estimates21. While it may be possible that not every single grain cargo is part of our data set, the attempt to be exhaustive leaves little doubt about its representativeness.
- 22 Treated extensively in: A.E. Christensen, 1941, p. 241-290; W. Scheltjens, 2011, p. 115-147.
9On the basis of this data set, it will be examined what the effects of change in the geography of trade flows were on the maritime transport sector. Did maritime transporters change directions together with the trade flows? Did maritime transporters continue their business, regardless of the changing trade flows? In either case, when change occurred, who filled the gap? The analysis will be centered around the classical issue of route vs. cargo specialisation22.
10The analysis of grain transportation through the Sound in the eighteenth century comprises a statement about its volume, followed by an introductory survey of the changing spatial structure of the grain trade (§3) and its main routes (§4). Demand for maritime transportation services was strictly speaking a merchant’s issue. He was the one who decided where he would purchase a cargo, and where this cargo would have to go. While there is no doubt that the rationale behind his decisions was subject to change in time and place, our survey will be restricted to the visible results of merchant’s business decisions, in particular: the routes and directions of grain transportation through the Sound in the eighteenth century.
11The central part of the analysis (§5) deals with an aspect of a merchant’s business decisions that is often overlooked. The main question of this part of the analysis is: where did merchants look to fulfill their needs for maritime transport and why precisely there? What is reviewed here is the geography of Dutch maritime transportation services insofar as the transportation of ship loads of grain through the Sound at Elsinore is concerned. We focus on Dutch supply of maritime transport, but take into account both Dutch and non-Dutch demand, thus highlighting a particular topic in the study of early-modern commercial exchange: how does trade affect the maritime transport sector?
- 23 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 50.
- 24 M. Morineau, 1983, p. 36-39; M. VanTielhof, 2002, p. 51.
- 25 For details, see Appendices 1 and 2.
- 26 M. VanTielhof, 2002, p. 57.
- 27 J. DeVries & A. VanderWoude, 1995, Ch. 10.2.1. Similarly, MichelMorineau argued that the importan (...)
12With the heyday of Baltic grain trade situated in the first half of the seventeenth century23, the eighteenth century announced itself as a difficult period, disturbed by war in Western Europe (Spanish War of Succession, 1702-1713) and in the Baltic (Great Northern War, 1700-1721). A period of depression started in the late 1690s, lasted until about 1720 and was followed by a period of stagnation accompanied with great instability between 1720 and 176024. Annual fluctuations were enormous throughout this period, but despite a few peaks in the volume of grain shipped through the Sound (1713, 1729, 1740)25, the average volumes shipped would remain fairly constant until the mid-1760s26 (see Figure 1). The Amsterdam grain market served mostly its internal market during this period of stagnation27.
- 28 Index 100 is set at 652,231 litres of grain, which corresponds to the average volume of grain tra (...)
Figure 1. Total volume of Baltic grain transports, 1699-179528
Source. STR online.
- 29 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 52-54; J. De Vries & A. Van der Woude, 1995,Ch. 10.2.1.
13Three factors have been put forward by Milja Van Tielhof as possible explanations of this enduring state of stagnation in the first half of the eighteenth century. Grain prices declined after 1662, population growth began to slow down or even decline in many regions in Europe, while grain cultivation was intensified, and political and economic issues at the supply side sometimes severely obstructed the grain trade29.
- 30 J. De Vries & A. Van der Woude, 1995, Ch. 10.2.1; D. Ormrod, 2003, Ch. 7: England, Holland and th (...)
- 31 J. De Vries & A. Van der Woude, 1995, Table 10.2. Even so, David Ormrod argues that England’s gra (...)
14The structure of Baltic grain trade in the first half of the eighteenth century is fairly simple (see Figure 2). Demand for Baltic grain was concentrated in the Netherlands, with small shares being distributed to the ports of Bremen and Hamburg, to Norway (primarily Bergen), the Swedish Westcoast and Scotland (Firth of Forth). Demand in England, France and Portugal was subject to external circumstances, like crop failures, and did not have the same regularity as the above-mentioned destinations of Baltic grain. Important is the emergence of England as a grain-exporter in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, which certainly had a negative effect on the size of Amsterdam’s market for Baltic grain30. Between 1710 and 1760, about 50% of all grain imported to Amsterdam came from England31.
Figure 2. The spatial structure of Baltic grain transports in 1740
- 32 For details about the estimated volumes shipped annually to the main demand locations, see Append (...)
15With an average annual share exceeding 70% of all grain shipped through the Sound between 1700 and 1760, the dominance of Amsterdam is overwhelming32. The two moments when Amsterdam’s share dropped suddenly to about 18%, in 1737 and in the 1750s, can be explained by external circumstances. In 1737, crop failure in the Baltic provoked a temporary shift in the direction of grain transportation. In 1756, grain transports were diverted to Bremen, Hamburg, Bergen and Gothenburg, probably under the influence of the Seven Year’s War (1756-1763). This period marked the end of an era for Amsterdam. From 1763 onwards, Amsterdam’s share would never again reach the same heights as in the first half of the eighteenth century. From more than 80% during the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and around 70% between 1720 and the late 1750s, Amsterdam’s share dropped to a mere 40% after 1760 (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Share of Amsterdam in grain traffic through the Sound, 1700-1783
Source. STR online.
- 33 For details about the estimated volumes of grain shipped annually through the Sound from the main (...)
16The supply of grain was dominated by Danzig and Koningsbergen, and completed by Russia’s new possessions on the eastern shore of the Baltic (Riga, Reval, Pernau and Arensburg), two ports in the Kingdom of Prussia (Memel and Pillau), and two ports in the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (Windau and Libau)33.
- 34 M. VanTielhof, 2002, p. 60.
- 35 A. Semenov, 1997, p. 146-148.
- 36 A. Semenov, 1997, p. 147.
- 37 M. VanTielhof, 2002, p. 60.
- 38 A. Semenov, 1997, p. 147-148.
17The participation of Russia’s ports in the Baltic, primarily of Riga and Reval, was the subject of a series of Russian tax regulations and domestic economic policies, which in the long run proved to be beneficial to these ports34. A tax rule of 1731, in which the level of taxation in Riga was equalled to that of Danzig and Koningsbergen marked the breakthrough of Riga as a grain supplier35. The same rule was applied to Pernau and Reval in 1732 and 1733 respectively36. Another reason for the breakthrough of Russian ports were novel practices in agriculture, namely the use of hihgly fertile land in newly settled regions37. Still, the Russian government had to deal with crop failures on various occasions, forcing them to prohibit grain exports in 1742, 1744, 1745-1752 and in 175638.
18A particular position in the supply of grain was held by Swedish Pomerania, which had a relatively large number of small grain exporting ports from where shipments were carried out through the Sound on a regular basis. It is likely that Swedish Pomerania catered the Swedish home-market first and that Sound traffic was only an additional activity.
- 39 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 58-60.
- 40 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 58-59; J.A. Faber, 1988, p. 100-102.
- 41 J.A. Faber, 1988, p. 93-94; J. De Vries, 1959.
- 42 D. Ormrod, 2003, p. 231.
19In the 1760s a period of renewed growth started as a consequence of rising grain prices provoked by renewed population growth39. This relatively steady period was disrupted only by the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) and crop failure in France in 178840. But while in most European countries population grew and prosperity increased in the second half of the eighteenth century, this was not so in the Netherlands41. The total volume of grain transported through the Sound rose quickly after 1760, but the volume of grain transported to the Dutch Republic stayed roughly at the same level as in the first half of the eighteenth century (see Figure 4). This resulted in a declining share of the Dutch Republic in total grain transports from the Baltic after 176042.
Figure 4.The Dutch Republic as destination of grain transports through the Sound, 1699-1795
Source. STR online.
- 43 D. Ormrod, 2003, p. 221-225; K. Sluyterman, 1995; J. Van Riemsdijk, 1916.
20After 1760, the spatial structure of Baltic grain trade started to change rapidly. First of all, the number of cities executing demand for grain increased significantly, with demand spread widely along the Dutch coastline, going as far South as Vlissingen and as far East as Delfzijl. A new concentration of demand for Baltic grain emerged in South-Holland, notably in Schiedam en Rotterdam, where jenever distilleries required more and more grain to fulfill the needs of an increasing number of consumers (see Figure 5)43.
Figure 5. Share of main destinations of Baltic grain in the Dutch Republic, 1760-1795
Source. STR online.
- 44 A.V. Ljungman, 1878, p. 220-239; A. Corten, 2001; S. Lilja, 1995, p. 50-76.
- 45 D. Ormrod, 2003, Ch. 7; J.A., Faber, 1988, p. 88.
- 46 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 61.
- 47 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 61.
21Demand for grain also spread along the East-Frisian coastline, with Emden as its main port. Along the Swedish West Coast and in Southern Norway, demand for Baltic grain became widely spread, most likely as a result of the economic prosperity and related population growth that was provoked by the so-called Bohuslän herring period that had started back in 175244. Demand in England and Scotland started to rise in the late 1760s and grew rapidly to a wide-spread, steady demand by the early 1780s. Not only ports located on the English East Coast were now involved in demand for Baltic grain, Liverpool also started to receive loads of grain from the Baltic (see Figure 6). Clearly, England and Scotland were no longer capable of fulfilling their own demand for grain45. In addition to a process of diversification in the traditional markets for Baltic grain, the emergence of demand concentrations in Southern Europe, mostly along the French Atlantic Coast and in Portugal, but also in the Mediterranean, are evidence of a second structural change on the demand side. A third structural change on the demand side occurred in the Baltic proper, where Sweden emerged as a grain importing country, procuring grain mostly from Pomerania and from the Baltic provinces of Russia46. This reduced the surpluses available for export out of the Baltic sea region47.
Figure 6. The spatial structure of Baltic grain transports in 1783
- 48 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 61.
- 49 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 61.
- 50 M. Van Tielhof, 2002, p. 60.
22On the supply side, a structural change took place in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when the first partition of Poland in 1772 led to the isolation of Danzig from its hinterland48. The ports of Pillau, Koningsbergen and to a lesser degree Memel benefited most from the successful isolation of Danzig; the economic policies of the Prussian government were successful49. Russian ports in the Baltic, like Riga, Pernau, Reval, and St. Petersburg also benefited from isolation of Danzig and from the fact that Russia began to produce grain surpluses on a regular basis50.
- 51 J.A. Faber, 1988, p. 94.
23In general, the evolution of the spatial structure of Baltic grain transport after 1760 has been accurately described by Johannes A. Faber as a process of “enlargement, dispersal and stabilisation of the [European] market” that made it no longer necessary for the staple function to be confined to the Netherlands51. While the Dutch Republic continued to play a major role in Baltic grain transport, their position was no longer one of clear dominance. The shares of England and Scotland and of other European countries increased significantly and, taken together, their volume surpassed that of the Netherlands (see Figure 7).
Figure 7. Geography of grain exports from the Baltic, 1699-1795
Source. STR online.
24Inevitably, the changes in the spatial structure of Baltic grain exports in the eighteenth century had profound effects on the routes that these exports followed. According to the Danish Sound toll registers for the years 1699-1795, grain transportation through the Sound was executed on 3,297 different routes, connecting more than 300 export locations and more than 500 import locations. The lion’s share of grain traffic, however, was concentrated on a relatively small number of routes.
25In 1700, for example, twenty-one routes accounted for almost 90% of all grain transports, the dominant routes being Danzig-Amsterdam, with a share of 43% and Koningsbergen-Amsterdam with a share of 26%. Additionally, the routes Danzig-Harlingen (6%), Reval-Amsterdam (5%) and Libau-Amsterdam (3%) accounted for another 15% of all grain transports in 1700. The total number of different routes in 1700 was 92, the majority of them accounting for very small volumes shipped.
26In the first decades of the eighteenth century contraction resulted in increasing shares of the dominant routes in total grain distribution, however, this was no longer the case after the Great Northern War. In the long run, structural changes at the supply and demand side of the grain market, had reciprocal effects on individual routes. The shares of the traditional routes Danzig-Amsterdam and Koningsbergen-Amsterdam in total grain transportation from the Baltic underwent two phases of decline, one after 1740 and a second, decisive one after 1772. The loss of market share of both routes in a period of renewed growth is yet another indication of the changing spatial structure of Baltic grain transport in the eighteenth century (see Figure 8).
Figure 8. Share of traditional routes in grain transports through the Sound, 1700-1795
Source. STR online.
27In general, the spatial structure of the distribution of Baltic grain had a pattern in which contraction coincided with a smaller number of routes and growth was met by an increasingly diverse distribution pattern. The latter is particularly evident in exceptional years, like 1713, 1729, 1737 and 1740, and obtained a more permanent character during the period of renewed growth after 1760. The total number of different routes of grain transportation reached a peak in the mid-1780s, when in one year, Baltic grain was transported on almost 500 different routes (see Figure 9).
Figure 9. Number of different routes of grain transportation through the Sound, 1700-1795
Source. STR online.
- 52 A.E. Christensen, 1941, p. 246-248.
28A major historiographical issue related to the increasingly complex spatial structure of Baltic grain transport in the course of the eighteenth century is that of the importance of the so-called voorbijlandvaart, by which routes are meant that bypass Amsterdam or other Dutch ports to connect places in Southern Europe directly with places in Northern Europe52. If, indeed, the Dutch maritime transport sector managed to secure its market position by establishing direct connections bypassing the Netherlands, this could be seen as the successful adaptation of the maritime transport sector to new economic circumstances. This issue will be treated in detail in paragraph 5.
- 53 J.A. Faber, 1988, p. 92.
29The growing number of routes involved in Baltic grain transport and the dispersal or decentralisation of Amsterdam’s economic functions53indicate that there is no single route that came in place of formerly dominant Danzig-Amsterdam and Koningsbergen-Amsterdam. Indeed, a comparison of the main routes and their respective average volumes and shares of total grain transports in a number of given years makes clear that the Baltic grain market became an increasingly complex market in which many parties were involved, both at the supply and at the demand side of business (see Table 1).
Table 1. Main and emerging routes of Dutch grain transport from the Baltic, with indexed average volumes and shares
Source. STR online.
30For reasons of clarity, we will refer to the routes from Danzig, Koningsbergen, Riga, Reval, Libau and Windau to Amsterdam as “traditional” routes and to routes from the Baltic ports to Rotterdam and Schiedam as “emerging” routes.
31In this paragraph, we will analyse how the Dutch maritime transport sector reacted to the changes in volume, spatial structure and geography of distribution routes that were described above. To this end, the evolution of turnover and operational patterns on the traditional and emerging routes of Baltic grain transport and the market shares of the Dutch maritime transport sector and its constituent parts (i.e. individual shipmasters’ domiciles) on these routes are examined. Evolving market shares are necessary to gain insight in the demand for Dutch maritime transport on the traditional and emerging routes of Baltic grain, while turnover and operational patterns serve as indicators of the presence and strength of path dependence in the operational patterns of Dutch shipmasters.
- 54 A.M. Van Der Woude, 1972, p. 384; P.C. Van Royen, 1998, p. 86-87.
32The Dutch market for maritime transport in the eighteenth century was concentrated in the Dutch Republic’s main centres of trade, like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and in the provincial areas surrounding these centres of trade, so basically, along the entire Dutch coastline. A concentration of maritime transport services related to the Baltic area is found North and North-East of Amsterdam, in West-Frisia, Frisia and the Province of Groningen, with a predominance of Frisian shipmasters in the first half of the eighteenth century and a shift towards the Province of Groningen in the second half of the eighteenth century (see Figure 10)54.
Figure 10. The spatial structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector in the late eighteenth century
- 55 Unfortunately, a comprehensive survey of all of these routes lies outside the scope of this paper
33For the Dutch communities that were involved in Baltic grain transport, their degree of participation was subject to changes in the spatial structure of the grain trade and the operational strategies adopted by the shipmasters belonging to these communities. A first distinction must be made between routes on which Dutch shipmasters had the dominant share in the transportation of grain, routes on which they were a minority and routes where their share was negligible. The latter were mostly routes that did not have a “Dutch” component, i.e. routes linking places in the Baltic Sea with places along the coastline of the North Sea. Dutch shipmasters had no share whatsoever in routes to England, Scotland, Norway and Bremen. Many of these routes, except those to Norway, were dominated by shipmasters originating from the port of destination of Baltic grain. For example, between 1770 and 1795, when England and Scotland became large importers of Baltic grain, the average share of shipmasters from Newcastle on grain transports between Danzig and Newcastle exceeded 90%. On the other hand, routes that emerged later in the eighteenth century, like Danzig-Liverpool, were dominated by shipmasters from Danzig (average share of 72% of all shipments)55. Similarly, the grain routes on which Dutch shipmasters had a major share linked places in the Baltic Sea to Amsterdam. However, the market share of the Dutch underwent dramatic changes in the course of the eighteenth century, even on the most traditional of its routes (in casu, the six main ports in the Baltic that provided the bulk of grain imports to Amsterdam).
34On the route from Danzig to Amsterdam, the share of Dutch shipmasters in the transportation of grain was exceptionally high until 1772. Then, rapid decline set in. The same happened on the Koningsbergen-Amsterdam route, although the decline after 1772 was slightly less dramatic. On the other traditional routes, the situation was similar: grain transports from Riga to Amsterdam were dominated by Dutch shipmasters until the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War of 1780-1784. Dutch presence on the Reval-Amsterdam, Libau-Amsterdam and Pillau-Amsterdam routes followed the same course of development as the other traditional routes, but their significance was generally smaller. It can be assumed that these routes were complementary to the routes from Danzig and Koningsbergen to Amsterdam; the same shipmasters’ domiciles dominated all of them, with the exception of Pillau-Amsterdam after 1760, where shipmasters from the Province of Groningen obtained a dominant share. However, even in this case, the share of Dutch shipmasters as a whole on the Pillau-Amsterdam route also declined from 1772 onwards. A typical evolution on all traditional routes is the increasing share of shipmasters from the Baltic ports in grain transports to Amsterdam (see Figure 11).
Figure 11. Grain transports by shipmasters from Amsterdam and Danzig on the traditional routes
Source. STR online.
35In general, Dutch dominance on the traditional routes from the Baltic grain outlets to Amsterdam seems to have suffered a great deal from the detoriation of Amsterdam’s staple function in the eighteenth century. Even though the quantitative changes in the volume of grain transports show a positive trend for the Dutch Republic as a whole (see Figure 4), the quantities shipped to Amsterdam declined and the effect of this negative trend was sharpened by a decline in the Dutch share of maritime transport on these traditional routes. This, however, does not mean that the shipmasters involved in grain transport on the traditional routes all dropped out of business once the decline of the staple market set in. On the contrary, as was described above, increasing diversification in the grain market led to the emergence of new routes, especially after 1760. It is the goal of the remainder of this paragraph to gain insight in the ways in which the Dutch maritime transport sector dealt with them.
36Some of the emerging routes were for several reasons inaccessible for Dutch shipmasters, like the previously introduced routes to England, Scotland, Norway and Bremen. Others can righteously be considered a (literal) prolongation of the traditional routes to Amsterdam. These routes bypassed Amsterdam to connect places in the Baltic directly with places along the Atlantic Coast and in the Mediterranean, an operational practice that is better known as voorbijlandvaart in Dutch historiography. Yet other routes were “new” to the Dutch commercial system, connecting the traditional Baltic grain outlets to “new” destinations like Schiedam and Rotterdam.
37Both in the case of the so-called voorbijlandvaart and on the emerging routes it can be observed how these routes attracted more and more attention as the decline of Amsterdam’s staple market continued. However, when the shares and origins of Dutch shipmasters active on these routes are compared with the routes to Amsterdam, it becomes clear that the voorbijlandvaart was not a replacement of the traditional routes to Amsterdam. Clearly, Dutch shipmasters did not manage to stay in business through engagement in voorbijlandvaart. Its character was too sporadic for this strategy to be successful in the long run.
- 56 For details, see Appendix 3.
38In order to establish the relative importance of the voorbijlandvaart and of the emerging routes, it is necessary to look at transportation routes from the perspective of shipping communities. Calculation of respective shares of routes in the overall transportation pattern of one shipping community allows to assess the relative importance of voorbijlandvaart and emerging routes for Dutch shipping communities active in grain transport through the Sound. In the following survey, we will limit ourselves to the routes of the following Dutch shipping communities: Ameland, Amsterdam, Delfzijl, Dokkum, Groningen, Harlingen, Heerenveen, Hindeloopen, Hoorn, Joure, Lemmer, Makkum, Pekela, Rotterdam, Sneek, Stavoren, Terhorne, Terschelling, Texel, Vlieland, Woudsend and Workum. All of these shipping communities were regular participants on the traditional and/or emerging routes introduced above (see Table 1). Using the strength of the correlation coefficient between the participation of individual Dutch shipmasters’ domiciles and the traditional and emerging routes as a first indication of different operational strategies being applied by different shipping communities, a categorisation of shipmasters’ domiciles in three main groups could be established56.
39The first group consists of communities with a very strong positive correlation coefficient, a time-span covering the entire century on the traditional routes, and no or insignificant correlation on the emerging routes. The members of this group are the Wadden Islands, Harlingen, Hindeloopen and Hoorn. The level of engagement of shipmasters from these communities in voorbijlandvaart was limited, both in terms of volume and in terms of duration. Shipmasters from Ameland, for example, shipped grain from Danzig, Koningsbergen and other ports in the Baltic to destinations along the Atlantic Coast on special occasions and – apart from the extraordinary year 1770 – in small amounts.
40To complete this picture, it is necessary to add that on some occasions, shipmasters with a strong positive correlation on the traditional routes to Amsterdam also supplied their transportation services on routes from the main grain outlets to Bremen, Emden and Hamburg. The extent of this diversion was limited to a small number of years and to small quantities of the overall grain transport secured by the communities in question. For example, Bremen, Emden and Hamburg received Baltic grain transported by shipmasters from Ameland in the years 1719-1726, 1728, 1731, 1762-1763, 1767-1768, 1771-1772 and 1775.
41Sporadically, and, again, in small quantities, the shipping communities of the first group were engaged in shipments of grain to other ports in the Dutch Republic than Amsterdam. For example, this was the case for 24,8% of Ameland’s grain transports in 1700, 7,5% in 1702, 7,8% in 1719 and 0,9% in 1726; all grain destined for the Frisian town Harlingen. In 1735, 1,6% of Ameland’s grain transports went from Koningsbergen to Groningen, in 1736, 3,7% went from Riga to Dordrecht and, in 1742, 14,5% went from Koningsbergen to Zaandam. Rotterdam appeared as a destination of grain transports executed by shipmasters from Ameland in 1753 (7,1%) and 1761 (8%).
- 57 Clé Lesger, for example, mentiones that the presence of ships domiciled at Hoorn declined from 150 (...)
- 58 J.A. Faber, 1973, p. 274-281; J.Th. Lindblad, 1997, p. 103-114; S. Lootsma, 1940, p. 218-296; P. (...)
42The changes in the spatial structure after 1760 resorted very little effect on the routes of shipmasters belonging to the first group. The decline of the Amsterdam staple market resulted in an general downturn in the activities of these shipmasters (see Figure 12). Voorbijlandvaart, as we have seen, played a marginal role, other ports in the Dutch Republic were hardly frequented by shipmasters belonging to the first group, and Bremen, Emden and Hamburg were destinations only on rare occasions. On top of that, the size of the shipping communities belonging to the first group seems to have declined in general and was not limited to grain transports alone57. The position of Hindeloopen within the first group may be somewhat surprising: in historiography, the shipping community is known to be specialised in timber transportation rather than in grain transportation58. Nevertheless, on the basis of the formal criteria applied in this survey, Hindeloopen had to be included in the first group.
Figure 12. Turnover and operational patterns of the first group of Dutch shipping communities, 1700-1795
Source. STR online. Note. BEH = Bremen, Emden, Hamburg.
43To complete the survey of turnover and operational patterns of the first group, it is necessary to pay special attention to the activities of the shipping population of Amsterdam. This population behaved like the first group, but its size allowed to participate (be it to a limited extent) in grain transports on the emerging routes without having to abandon the traditional routes to Amsterdam (see Figure 13). Remarkable is that the part of Amsterdam’s shipping community that was involved in Baltic trade participated predominantly, and on various occasions almost exclusively, in grain transports. The Amsterdam shipping community, insofar as it was involved in Baltic trade, was thus characterised by a high degree of cargo specialisation.
Figure 13. Turnover and operational patterns of the shipping community of Amsterdam, 1700-1795
Source. STR online. Note. BEH = Bremen, Emden, Hamburg.
- 59 For details, see Appendix 3.
44The second group of communities comprises those of which the grain shipping population has a relative low positive correlation, an N-count that is relatively low and a time-span that covers (almost) the entire century59. This indicates that the presence of shipmasters from these communities was not continuous on the traditional routes and that – in fact – the traditional routes were replaced by emerging routes in the course of the eighteenth century. A feature that distinguishes the communities of the second group from the other communities in this survey is the presence and importance of the home-market in the shipping routes. The communities of the second group, Rotterdam, Groningen and Delfzijl, have their own portal functions and are not merely domiciles of a population of maritime shipmasters. In the case of Rotterdam, the home-market gained importance in the course of the eighteenth century and led to the abandonement of the traditional routes after 1760. In the case of Groningen and Delfzijl, the home-market had a larger impact on shipping routes of their respective populations before 1760, than it had afterwards (see Figure 14).
Figure 14. Turnover and operational patterns of the second group ofDutch shipping communities, 1700-1795
Source. STR online. Note. BEH = Bremen, Emden, Hamburg.
45For shipmasters from Rotterdam, the home-market was the primary destination for the first time in the years 1738-1744, for the second time in the years 1751-1755 and then continuously after 1760. Voorbijlandvaart was only of marginal importance throughout the entire eighteenth century, as was the case for shipping to Bremen, Emden or Hamburg. In both instances, the diversion from the dominant routes only occurred occasionally, never obtaining a more regular character.
46For shipmasters from Delfzijl, the home-market was very small and therefore never a primary destination. Nearby Emden, on the other hand, was a more important destination for shipmasters from Delfzijl than was Amsterdam. A first period during which shipmasters from Delfzijl were active as grain transporters in the Baltic area lasted from 1725 until 1744. Throughout this period, Danzig and Koningsbergen were the main supply ports and Amsterdam and Emden were the main destinations. During the second period of continuous presence of shipmasters from Delfzijl, after 1760, routes starting from Danzig disappeared almost completely, while routes starting from Koningsbergen, Libau and Pillau gained importance. The share of Amsterdam as a destination for shipmasters from Delfzijl increased, while shipments to Emden were renewed only for a short period of time during the 1760s. The engagement of shipmasters from Delfzijl in serving ports other than Amsterdam after 1760 was low and thus contrary to the developments witnessed in the activities of shipmasters from Rotterdam and from communities of the third group (see below). Delfzijl’s shipping community did not participate in grain shipments on the emerging routes to the Maas area (mainly Schiedam and Rotterdam). Similarly low was the presence of shipmasters from Delfzijl on routes between the Baltic and Bremen or Hamburg and on the voorbijlandvaart.
47The situation for shipmasters from Groningen marks a third way within the second group. The presence of shipmasters from Groningen coincides with that of shipmasters from Delfzijl. During a first period between 1725 and 1744, Danzig-Groningen and Koningsbergen-Groningen were the dominant routes, exceeding Danzig-Amsterdam and Koningsbergen-Amsterdam in terms of volume and regularity. After 1760, Amsterdam gains importance as destination served by shipmasters from Groningen, but the home-market does not cease to exist. Small quantities of grain continue to be shipped from the Baltic ports to Groningen after 1760. As was the case for shipmasters from Delfzijl, routes between the Baltic and Bremen, Emden or Hamburg and routes of the voorbijlandvaart were occasional and never obtained a regular character. More important, however, is that – like Delfzijl – the Groningen shipping community only marginally participated in grain shipments on the emerging routes to the Maas area. Similar to the operational pattern of shipmasters from Groningen is that of the population of shipmaters of the provincial community of Pekela, which participated in grain transports through the Sound for the first time in 1760 and was predominantly involved in grain shipments from Pillau to Amsterdam.
48The case of Pekela is interesting since it coincides with the emergence of the shipping community of Papenburg in East-Frisia on the same route from Pillau to Amsterdam, providing a clear link between the development of peat-bog digging and maritime transport in this region in the second half of the eighteenth century.
- 60 For details, see Appendix 3.
49The third group of communities is characterised by a low positive correlation, low N-count and limited time-span (see Figure 15). The communities belonging to this group were present on both the traditional and the emerging routes. Interestingly, all of the communities belonging to the third group were located in Frisia. The third group consists of the following communities: Dokkum, Joure, Lemmer, Makkum, Sneek, Stavoren, Terhorne, Workum and Woudsend60.
Figure 15. Turnover and operational patterns of the third group of Dutch shipping communities, 1700-1795
Source. STR online. Note. BEH = Bremen, Emden, Hamburg.
50Voorbijlandvaart was a matter of occasion for the third group, like it was for the other shipping communities in this survey. But there is a significant difference: when the opportunity was there, shipmasters belonging to communities of the third group responded amply to this occasional demand, using the majority of their carrying capacity to serve destinations in France, Portugal and Spain. Just as quickly as they appeared on these routes, they moved back into their previous Amsterdam-dominated pattern when the opportunity had passed.
51In the operational patterns of shipmasters from communities of the third group, the spatial change of routes from Danzig-Amsterdam and Koningsbergen-Amsterdam to Libau-Maas area and Riga-Maas area is reflected, indicating the presence of a business attitude quite different from that of he first group, which was marked by lock-in on routes to Amsterdam.
52The changing distribution pattern after 1760, which was in itself a consequence of structural changes in the supply and demand of Baltic grain, led to a recomposition of the spatial structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector in the last quarter of the eighteenth century (see Figure 10), and this spatial evolution is reflected in the involvement of Dutch shipping communities in grain transportation through the Sound. The characteristics of this recomposition were described in the previous paragraph.
53In this paragraph, we will take a closer look at the evolution of the market shares of Dutch shipmasters in grain transportation through the Sound in the eighteenth century. In combination with the preceding analysis of spatial structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector and of its operational patterns, this analysis is deemed to provide us with a comprehensive picture of the changing geography of demand for Dutch maritime transport services in the eighteenth century grain trade.
54At the most general level, it can be witnessed that the share of Dutch shipmasters in grain transports through the Sound declined from around 70% in the period 1700-1740 to around 45% in the period 1740-1780 and to around 15% after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War of 1780-1784 (see Figure 16). In terms of market share, the Dutch maritime transport sector lost its dominance only in 1780, but the decline set in much earlier. When the market position of shipmasters from the Dutch Republic on traditional and emerging routes is now observed, it becomes clear that on both types of routes the rise of a maritime transport sector located in the Baltic coincides with the decline of the Dutch maritime transport sector (see Figure 17).
Figure 16. Share of Dutch shipmasters in grain transports through the Sound, 1700-1795
Source. STR online.
Figure 17. Market position of shipmasters from the Dutch Republic and from the Baltic on traditional routes, 1700-1795
Source. STR online.
55On the Figure 18, it can be seen that the market position of Baltic and Dutch shipmasters alike is fairly constant between 1760 and 1780. It is only after 1784 that the share of Baltic shipmasters surpassed that of the Dutch, bearing witness of the significant changes in the Dutch maritime transport sector’s operational patterns that were described in the previous paragraph. Baltic shipmasters active on the traditional routes came predominantly from Western-Prussia (Danzig and Elbing), Courland (Libau), Mecklenburg (Ribnitz, Rostock) and Pomerania (Barth, Damgarten, Neukalden, Stralsund and Wolgast). At the same time, it can be seen that shipmasters from other nations became an increasing threat to the Dutch maritime transport sector and even dominated grain transports through the Sound between 1781 and 1786. The dominant “other” regions supplying maritime transportation services in this period was East-Frisia (Emden, Juist and Norden). The same scenario of development after 1760 repeats itself on the emerging routes. The only substantial difference is that on these routes the market position of the Baltic maritime transport sector was even stronger than on the traditional routes.
Figure 18. Market position of shipmasters from the Dutch Republic and from the Baltic on emerging routes, 1700-1795
Source. STR online.
56Throughout the analytical paragraphs of this paper, evidence has been gathered of the spatio-temporal evolution of the Baltic grain trade in terms of volume, locations of demand and locations of supply. Additionally, it was shown how these developments in the structure of the Baltic grain trade affected the direction and use of grain transportation routes. Structural changes in the geography of demand for grain led to the emergence of new grain transportation routes in the course of the eighteenth century, provoking a shift from a clear bilateral trade pattern to a diversified pattern in which many locations were involved, but none was strictly dominant. On the basis of this evidence, it could be established that these changes had reciprocal effects on the spatial structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector. In the following paragraph, an attempt will be made to explain these changes in the structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector chrystalling out three spatial developments: (1) a movement from the Dutch North-Western coastline (Wadden Islands and South-West Frisia) inland to locations in South-East Frisia, (2) a shift in the organisation of maritime transport from the demand side of business (primarily Amsterdam) to the supply side of business (ports in the Baltic) and (3) integration of shipping communities in the Province of Groningen in the Dutch commercial system under the influence of increased demand for peat in the industrial centres of the Dutch Republic (Amsterdam, Maas area).
- 61 Based on data extracted from the database of the levy of “paalgeld” at Amsterdam in the years 177 (...)
57Shipmasters from the Wadden Islands, Harlingen, Hindeloopen and Hoorn were major victims of the decline of the Amsterdam staple market and the subsequent decline of the traditional grain routes linking grain outlets in the Baltic to Amsterdam. Apparently, these shipping communities did not have the necessary means to react to such structural changes in the grain trade; their decline was general and not limited to grain transports alone, and it seems fair to suggest that the rather rigid operational strategies of these shipping communities did no longer answer to the needs of the Baltic grain business and prevented them from entering new markets. Still, the course of development of these shipping communities is not entirely clear nor univocal. The participation of shipmasters from Hindeloopen in grain transports from the Baltic, for example, seems to have been rather exceptional within its community of shipmasters. Hindeloopen was known to be specialised in timber transportation from Norway in the seventeenth and from the Gulf of Finland during much of the eighteenth century. It seems that only a small group within this community was specialised in grain transports. The decline of the shipping community of Hoorn in the eighteenth century has been analysed before and can be said to be an absolute decline. The same is true for the Wadden Islands, but data that can confirm this is scattered. Regardless, the sudden upswing in the exceptional year 1770 is rather puzzling (see Figure 12), since it shows that these shipping communities did not just cease to exists. It is unknown what kind of activity replaced the grain transports to Amsterdam. There is no evidence that supports the hypothesis that these shipmasters shifted to shorter distances, not entering the Baltic, at least as far as grain shipments to Amsterdam between 1771 and 1787 are concerned (see Figure 19)61.
Figure 19. Origin of grain imports in Amsterdam, 1771-1787
Source. Database of the levy of Paalgeld at Amsterdam.
58One element that unites all the communities of the first group is a decline in the population of each of them, which is likely to have resulted in a decrease of available human capital for the maritime transport sector and, as a consequence, loss of market share.
59In part, shipmasters from Frisian communities took the place of the previous group, introducing a different business strategy in which flexibility in the choice of cargoes and routes was more important. It was shown that, for some time, these shipping communities could maintain their position in grain transports from the Baltic, especially because of their adaptive behaviour that was necessary to make a successful shift to the emerging routes after 1760. But even so, market share was lost to foreign (non-Dutch) shipping communities, who increasingly occupied the emerging routes.
- 62 Michiel A.W. Gerding notes that in the eighteenth century the amount of peat soil cultivated in Pe (...)
- 63 According to Engbert Schut, there were three shipbuilding wharfs in Pekela in 1732, thirteen in 1 (...)
60Despite this general context of decline and loss of market share of the Dutch maritime transport sector and its involvement in the Baltic grain trade, there is an upside to the declining Frisian participation on the traditional routes to Amsterdam after 1760. The shift of the Frisian shipping communities from the traditional routes to Amsterdam to the emerging routes to the Maas area coincided (see Figure 16) with yet another spatial evolution that turned out to be favorable to the shipping population of the Province of Groningen (and accross the Dutch border equally to the shipping population of East-Frisia). In this cross-border peat soil region, the increasing intensity of proto-industrialisation put growing pressure upon natural resources. Their exploitation became more and more institutionalised, with soil being cultivated at a growing pace62, which in turn led to the rapid expansion of a regional shipbuilding industry63. It seems that, thanks to the increasing demand for peat in Amsterdam and the maturation of the shipping sector, the communities of the peat soil region in the Province of Groningen could profit from the decline of the participation of the shipping communities on the Wadden Islands, Hoorn and Hindeloopen in grain transports through the Sound.
61The general loss of market share on traditional and emerging routes, we may argue, has its foundation in a structural change in the organisation of grain transportation through the Sound and the role of the Dutch commercial system in it. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, it can be witnessed that the transportation of Baltic grain was organised at the demand side of business, in case in Amsterdam. When grain was ready to be transported from the Baltic to Amsterdam, ships would be sent to the Baltic, many of them in ballast. As was shown on several occasions in the previous paragraphs, transportation services were outsourced primarily to third parties who were located relatively nearby (in Frisia, on the Wadden Islands, in the Province of Groningen), but already at the beginning of the eighteenth century, shipmasters domiciled in the Baltic grain ports of Danzig and Koningsbergen participated in these transportation services to Amsterdam. During the eighteenth century, the organisation of maritime transport would gradually move from the demand side of business to the supply side of business, provoking a major shift in the search of third parties when grain transportation was outsourced. In fact, the Wadden Islands and Frisia could no longer maintain their position as nearby service locations. And, seen from this angle, it is no surprise that shipmasters from Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Courland and Western Prussia could take their place, given their clear locational advantage. In general, it can be said that as long as Amsterdam served as the place where grain transports were organised, the operational knowledge offered by Frisian shipmasters and those from the Wadden Islands was easily accessible. This, however, changed dramatically when the supply side of the grain trade started to take care of the organisation of transportation.
- 64 J.W. Veluwenkamp, 1996, p. 162.
- 65 M. Morineau, 1983, p. 41-42; J.W. Veluwenkamp, 2006, p. 121-134; 2008, p. 70-72.
62Not surprisingly, this line of reasoning is in agreement with developments in the structure of the Dutch commercial system in the eighteenth century and, more precisely, the role of Dutch merchant colonies in it. While until the beginning of the eighteenth century, Dutch merchant communities abroad were “integral to the mechanism of Dutch world-trade primacy”64, their role started to change under the influence of the “postal revolution”, leading to a situation where travelling or settling abroad was no longer required65. For a large part of their business, merchants could rely on local partners with whom intense correspondence was established. Local merchants were also able to make business, and when maritime transport needed to be organised, it was logical that these merchants would rely increasingly on shipping services that were supplied by communities that were easier to access than the distant traditional shipping services regions of the Dutch Republic.