This draft, 3 August 2007 Introduction


Appendix. An estimate of the number of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam around 1620



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Appendix. An estimate of the number of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam around 1620.
The basic source for the calculation of these figures is an official count, instigated by the town magistrate, of the number of active guild members in 1688.98 All but seven guilds responded and stated the size of their membership. To arrive at an estimate for 1620 we calculated the share of these different professional groups in the population of 1680, and then multiplied their relative share by the population of 1622.99 This led to crude estimates for the number of entrepreneurs in manufacturing (2,638), transportation (950), retail trade (1,688), and professional services (i.e. surgeons, notaries, and lawyers, 199).
Obviously this guild survey only provides us with a rough estimate at best. One of the possible distortions is that entrepreneurs might be a member of more than one guild(Tielhof 2002). Furthermore, we merely follow the mainstream view of the massive body of literature on Dutch guilds to argue that, as a rule, the membership of the guilds was limited to the masters, not the journeymen and apprentices(Prak 2005).100 Although there is evidence to suggest (for example for shipwrights) that some of these masters were employed by others, and worked for wages, it seems reasonable to suggest that the vast majority of guild members were entrepreneurs in the sense that they made judgmental decisions about the employment of labour and capital.
Fortunate for the present purpose is that four of these ‘mixed’ guilds united porters and other handlers of goods – labourers that were the exception to the rule that guilds consisted of entrepreneurs. Of the other three only the Groote Kramers (great retailers) are a problem. For the brokers and lightermen alternative estimates are available. Meanwhile, for various professional groups our estimates are corroborated by other evidence. For example, the total number of mills (including cupper- and papermills, and the like) in Amsterdam in the 18th century is estimated at 135, against 94 members of the corn- and timbermillers’ guild in 1688.101
Finally, a host of primary and secondary sources allows amendments and further refinement of our estimates, as follows:


  1. There are two ways to estimate the total number of wholesale traders in Amsterdam. One is to use the number of accountholders in the Exchange Bank in 1620 (1,202) as a proxy.102 Another is to rely on the very detailed estimate of the number of merchants from the Southern Netherlands (400) active in Amsterdam in 1620, and their estimated 30% in the city’s total merchant community.103 This yields a slightly higher estimate of 1333 merchants. Given that the clientele of the Wisselbank was still expanding at the time (reaching 1,348 accountholders in 1631), we follow the second estimate and set the number of wholesale traders in 1620 at 1,350.




  1. Only one important group of retailers is missing from the guild survey: the Groote Kramers, who specialized in the retail sail of all kinds of textiles. We estimate that their number was similar to that of the Kleine Kramers (about 400), which brings our estimate of the total number of retailers in Amsterdam to 2,600.




  1. Transport. All but two of the major groups of shipmasters in Amsterdam appeared in the guild survey of 1688.

    1. The guild of the lightermen, the shipmasters carrying mainly grain from the ocean going vessels to shore, was asked but did not give information on its membership. However, a by-law issued in 1624 to reduce their number to 225 suggests their number must have been at least 250 in 1620.104

    2. We also lack information on the number of ocean-going shipmasters residing in Amsterdam in 1620. If we combine the estimated size of the Dutch fleet in the 1630s (1,750) ships (Jonker and Sluyterman 2000)with information on the residence of shipmasters from samples of freight contracts to the Baltic Sea (3 to 6 %), Norway (0 to 5 %), and the Iberian Peninsula (17%) between 1595 and 1650 ((Christensen 1941), 264-265), a high estimate would be that 150 (i.e. 8.5%) shipmasters lived in Amsterdam.105




  1. Manufacturing

    1. First, we have included entrepreneurs in industries that were not organized in guilds.106 We estimate the number of sugar refiners at 25, soap boilers at 13 to 17, and breweries at 15 to 20.107 To be sure, several of these installations were owned by two or more proprietors but these were typically merchants, which implies they are already counted with the merchants. Based on the incidence of the professions ‘distilleerder’ and ‘brandewijnbrander’ mentioned in contemporary sources (90 distellers against 125 brewers between 1580 and 1630; these are both workers and bosses), we estimate the number of (brandy) distillers, in keeping with the number of brewers, at 15. We also know that in the early seventeenth century the city counted one or two glass houses, a few cupper mills, perhaps a salt refinery, and a vinegar boiling house. All in all an estimate of a total of 150 entrepreneurs, active in unincorporated industries in Amsterdam in 1620 seems reasonable.

    2. Diamond-cutters are not counted separately, for an analysis of this sector in the period 1590-1610 suggests that in the first decades of the seventeenth century the cutting of stones was largely a putting-out business organized by merchants(Gelderblom 2003).108




  1. The last category other services comprises the following professional groups: brokers, hostellers, surgeons, lawyers, and notaries.

    1. Oldewelt mentions a number of 175 notaries and sollicitors in 1688, which, following our estimation strategy would boil down to 84 of them in 1620. This estimate seems reasonable considering the 16 notaries for whom protocols survice in Amsterdam’s city archive.109

    2. Oldewelt finds 241 surgeons in 1688.110 We estimate their number at 115 in 1620.

    3. The number of brokers in 1618 is known from the membership register of the guild: 438. As for the hostellers, older historians have estimated the city may have had as many as 500 in the early seventeenth century.111(Visser 1997) This might seem rather high but between 1578 and 1606 alone over 100 hostellers bought the freedom of the city (Amsterdam City Archives, poorterboeken); if we accept that besides inns, Amsterdam also had its fair share of taverns, the 500 seems a number good enough to go by.

The size of the adult population is that of the total population in 1622, adjusted for the share 15-64 year olds in 1680 (32.8%) as estimated by Van Leeuwen and Oeppen. 112





1 The definition of entrepreneurship follows Casson, M. C. (2003). Entrepreneurship. Oxford Encyclopaedia. of Economic History. J. Mokyr. Oxford, Oxford University Press. 2: 210-215.

2 Klein, P. W. (1965). De Trippen in de 17e eeuw : een studie over het ondernemersgedrag op de Hollandse stapelmarkt. Assen, Van Gorcum.; Cf. also Israel, J. (1989). Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740. New York, Oxford University Press. Lesger, C. (2006). The Rise of the Amsterdam Market and Information Exchange: Merchants, Commercial Expansion and Change in the Spatial

Economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550-1630. Burlington, VT, Ashgate.; Even scholars playing down the contribution of entrepreneurship implicitly consider a small group of innovate businessmen: De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.,Prak, M. (2005). The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: The Golden Age. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 

3 On Flemish immigrants: Gelderblom, O. (2003). "From Antwerp to Amsterdam. The Contribution of Merchants from the Southern Netherlands to the Commercial Expansion of Amsterdam (c. 1540-1609)." Review. A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center 26(3): 247-283., with references to the extensive Dutch literature on the topic; See also: Lesger, C. (2006). The Rise of the Amsterdam Market and Information Exchange: Merchants, Commercial Expansion and Change in the Spatial

Economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550-1630. Burlington, VT, Ashgate.; On the Huguenots: Frijhoff, W. (2003). Uncertain brotherhood: The Huguenots in the Dutch Republic. Memory and Identity: The Huguenots in France and the Atlantic Diaspora. . B. v. Ruymbeke and R. J. Sparks. Columbia, University of South Carolina Press: 128-171.; On the Portuguese Jews: Israel, J. I. (2002). Diasporas within a diaspora. Jews, Crypto-Jews and the World Maritime Empires (1540-1740). Leiden, Brill.; with references to older studies, including his own.

4 The obvious exception is the vast Dutch language literature on craft guilds which has always focused on the artisans in individual workshops: Prak, M., C. Lis, et al., Eds. (2006). Craft Guilds in the Early Modern Low Countries: Work, Power, and Representation. . Aldershot, UK, Ashgate Publishing.. For a reappraisal of the role of female entrepreneurs in the Dutch Republic: PhD dissertation Van den Heuvel, forthcoming.

5 De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

6 Ibid. 61; More detailed case studies of the supply of towns include Lesger, C. M. (1990). Hoorn als stedelijk knooppunt: stedensystemen tijdens de late middeleeuwen en vroegmoderne tijd. Hilversum, Boschma-Aarnoudse, C. (2003). Tot verbeteringe van de neeringe deser stede. Hilversum.;

7 Cf. for example: Posthumus, N. W. (1908). De geschiedenis van de Leidsche lakenindustrie. I. De Middeleeuwen (veertiende tot zestiende eeuw). 's-Gravenhage, Martinus Nijhoff. 269-270, 274

8 The most comprehensive English language overviews of early modern Dutch entrepreneurship are two edited volumes: Lesger, C. M. and L. Noordegraaf, Eds. (1995). Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in Early Modern Times. Merchants and Industrialists within the Orbit of the Duch Staple Market. The Hague. and Lesger, C. M. and L. Noordegraaf, Eds. (1999). Ondernemers & bestuurders : economie en politiek in de Noordelijke Nederlanden in de late Middeleeuwen en vroegmoderne tijd. Amsterdam, NEHA Reeks: Neha-series III.; The older literature is summarized in: Klein, P. W. and J.-W. Veluwenkamp (1993). The Role of the Entrepreneur in the Economic Expansion of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch Economy in the Golden Age: nine studies. C. A. Davids and L. Noordegraaf. Amsterdam, NEHA: 27-53.

9 Zanden, J. L. v. (1993). The rise and decline of Holland's economy : merchant capitalism and the labour market. Manchester, UK ; New York, Manchester University Press : Distributed exclusively in the USA and Canada by St. Martin's Press.; De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.; Cf. also the various contributions in Hoppenbrouwers, P. C. M. and J. L. v. Zanden, Eds. (2001). Peasants into farmers? : the transformation of rural economy and society in the Low Countries (Middle Ages-19th century) in light of the Brenner debate. CORN publication series ; 4. Turnhout, Brepols.

10 Bavel, B. J. P. v. and J. L. v. Zanden (2004). "The jump-start of the Holland economy during the late-medieval crisis, c. 1350-c.1550." Economic History Review: ?; Bavel, B. J. P. v. (2003). "Early proto-industrialization in the Low Countries? The importance and nature of market-oriented non-agricultural activities in the countryside in Flanders and Holland, c. 1250-1570." Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire 81: 1109-1163.

11 Guicciardini, L., G. Silvius, et al. (1567). Descrittione di M. Lodouico Guicciardini patritio Fiorentino, di tutti i Paesi Bassi, altrimenti detti Germania inferiore : Con piu carte di geographia del paese, & col ritratto naturale di piu terre principali. In Anuersa, Apresso Guglielmo Siluio stampatore regio ...

12 Bavel, B. v. and O. Gelderblom (2007). Land of Milk and Butter. The Economic Origins of Cleanliness in the Dutch Golden Age, Utrecht University.

13 De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 204-205; Cf. Lesger, C. M. and L. Noordegraaf, Eds. (1999). Ondernemers & bestuurders : economie en politiek in de Noordelijke Nederlanden in de late Middeleeuwen en vroegmoderne tijd. Amsterdam, NEHA Reeks: Neha-series III. Introduction, 27-29, and literature cited there on the creation of local commercial infrastructures.

14 Bavel, B. J. P. v. and J. L. v. Zanden (2004). "The jump-start of the Holland economy during the late-medieval crisis, c. 1350-c.1550." Economic History Review: ?; Woude, A. M. v. d. (1972). Het Noorderkwartier. Een regionaal historisch onderzoek in de demografische en economische geschiedenis van westelijk Nederland van de late Middeleeuwen tot het begin van de 19e eeuw. Wageningen.

15 The following is based on: Boschma-Aarnoudse, C. (2003). Tot verbeteringe van de neeringe deser stede. Hilversum. 423-426, 453-457

16 De Vries, J. (1974). The Dutch rural economy in the Golden Age, 1500-1700. New Haven.; For a comparative approach: De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 507-521

17 The best general overview is: Bieleman, J. (1992). Geschiedenis van de landbouw in Nederland, 1500-1950 : veranderingen en verscheidenheid. Meppel, Boom.. For a detailed case study of one such area: Cruyningen, P. J. v. (2000). Behoudend maar buigzaam. Boeren in West-Zeeuws Vlaanderen 1650-1850. Wagening.

18 For example: Brusse, P. (1999). Overleven door ondernemen : de agrarische geschiedenis van de Over-Betuwe 1650-1850. Wageningen, Afdeling Agrarische Geschiedenis Landbouwuniversiteit.

19 Bavel, B. J. P. v. (2001). Land, lease and agriculture : the transition of the rural economy in the Dutch river area from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Past and present : a journal of historical studies. 172: 3-43.

20 Estimate based on (a) the low and high population estimates of De Vries en Van der Woude for 1600 (1.4 and 1.6 million) and 1650 (1.85 and 1.9 million) (First Modern Economy, 50-52); (b) two thirds of this population aged between 15 and 65; (c) 40% of the population living in towns

21 See for example: Ehrenberg, R. (1896). Das Zeitalter der Fugger, Geldkapital und Creditverkehr im 16. Jahrhundert, II, Die Weltbörsen und Finanzkrisen des 16. Jahrhunderts. Jena, Fischer.; Jeannin, P. (1957). Les marchands au XVIe siecle. Paris, Edtions du Seuil. Fernand Braudel explicitly distinguished capitalist entrepreneurs in the major commercial centers of early modern Europe, and self-employed men and women in other areas: Braudel, F. (1979). Civilisation Matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIIe siècles. Paris, Colin.

22 Recent Dutch studies on the Flemish immigrant entrepreneurs: Jong, M. d. (2005). 'Staat van oorlog'. Wapenbedrijf en militaire hervorming in de Republiek der Verenigde Nederlanden, 1585-1621. Hilversum.; Wijnroks, E. (2003). Handel tussen Rusland en de Nederlanden, 1560 - 1640, Een netwerkanalyse van de Antwerpse en Amsterdamse kooplieden, handelend op Rusland. Hilversum, Verloren. Gelderblom, O. (2000). Zuid-Nederlandse kooplieden en de opkomst van de Amsterdamse stapelmarkt (1578-1630). Hilversum, Verloren.; Enthoven, V. (1996). Zeeland en de opkomst van de Republiek. Handel en strijd in de Scheldedelta c. 1550-1621 Leiden, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden.; Cf. on the Portuguese merchants: Vlessing, O. (1995). The Portuguese-Jewish Mercantile Community in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam. Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in the rbit of the Dutch Staple Market C. Lesger and L. Noordegraaf. The Hague, Stichting Hollandse Historische Reeks: 223-243., Lesger, C. (2006). The Rise of the Amsterdam Market and Information Exchange: Merchants, Commercial Expansion and Change in the Spatial

Economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550-1630. Burlington, VT, Ashgate., and Israel, J. I. (1990). Empires and Entrepots: The Dutch, the Spanish Monarchy and the Jews, 1585-1713. London, Hambledon Press.

23 The histories of Lemaire and Van Os are recounted in: Gelderblom, O. (2000). Zuid-Nederlandse kooplieden en de opkomst van de Amsterdamse stapelmarkt (1578-1630). Hilversum, Verloren.; Cf. also: Dillen, J. G. v. (1930). Isaac le Maire en de handel in actiën der Oost-Indische compagnie. Econ.-hist. jaarb.

24 De Vries, J. and A. Van der Woude (1997). The First Modern Economy. Success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500-1815. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press., 345-349; Bonke, A. J. J. M., W. Dobber, et al. (2002). Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest : uitvinder aan de basis van de Gouden Eeuw. Zutphen, Walburg Pers.

25 Heijer, H. d. (2005). De geoctrooieerde compagnie : de VOC en de WIC als voorlopers van de naamloze vennootschap. Deventer, Kluwer.

26 The first voyages of Tweenhuysen are detailed in: Hart, S. (1957). "De eerste Nederlandse tochten ter walvisvaart " Jaarboek van het Genootschap Amstelodamum 49: 27-64.. Cf. also the even older: Muller, S. (1874). Geschiedenis der Noordsche Compagnie. Utrecht, Provinciaal Utrechts Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen.

27 Unger, R. W. (1978). Dutch Shipbuilding before 1800. Assen/Amstedam, Van Gorcum.

28 On Beer: Yntema, R. J. (1992). The brewing industry in Holland, 1300-1800: a study in industrial development. Chicago, University of Chicago., Unger, R. W. (2001). A history of brewing in Holland: 900-1900: economy, technology and the state. Leiden.; On dairy production: Boekel, P. N. (1929). De zuivelexport van Nederland tot 1813. Utrecht.; Bavel, B. v. and O. Gelderblom (2007). Land of Milk and Butter. The Economic Origins of Cleanliness in the Dutch Golden Age, Utrecht University.

29 Tielhof, M. v. (2002). The 'Mother of All Trades'. The Baltic Grain Trade in Amsterdam from the Late 16th to the Early 19th Centuy. Leiden, Brill.; Posthumus, N. W. (1971). De uitvoer van Amsterdam, 1543-1545. Leiden.; Lesger, C. (2006). The Rise of the Amsterdam Market and Information Exchange: Merchants, Commercial Expansion and Change in the Spatial

Economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550-1630. Burlington, VT, Ashgate.

30 Tielhof, M. v. and P. v. Dam (2007). Waterstaat in stedenland. Het hoogheemraadschap van Rijnland voor 1857. Utrecht, Matrijs.; Greefs, H. and M. ’t Hart, Eds. (2006). Water management, Communities and Environment. The Low Countries in Comparative Perspective, c. 1000 – c. 1800, Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis 2005/2006. Hilversum, Verloren.

31 Tielhof, M. v. (2005). "Turfwinning en proletarisering in Rijnland 1530-1670." Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 4: 95-121.

32 On brickworks: Kloot-Meyburg, B. W. v. d. (1925). "Eenige gegevens over de Hollandsche steenindustrie in de 17e eeuw." Nederlands Economisch Historisch Archief - Jaarboek 10: 79-160.; On madder: Priester, P. (1998). Geschiedenis van de Zeeuwse landbouw. ca. 1600-1910. 't Goy-Houten, Hes Uitgevers. 324-365; On salt refining: Dam, P. v. (2006). "Middeleeuwse bedrijven in zout en zel. De moerneringsrekening van Puttermoer van 1386 in vergelijkend perspectief,’ " Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 

33 Doorman, G. i. (1956). "Het haringkaken en Willem Beukels." Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 69: 371-386.; check references on disputed claim

34 Our interpretation of technological change builds on: Davids, K. (1995). Shifts of technological leadership in early modern Europe. A Miracle Mirrored. The Dutch Republic in European perspective K. Davids and J. Lucassen. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 338-366.

35 Boekel, P. N. (1929). De zuivelexport van Nederland tot 1813. Utrecht. 42n

36 Davids, K. (1995). Shifts of technological leadership in early modern Europe. A Miracle Mirrored. The Dutch Republic in European perspective K. Davids and J. Lucassen. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 338-366.

37 Davids, K. (1998). "Successful and failed transitions. A comparison of innovations in windmill technology in Britain and the Netherlands in the early modern period , 14 (1998), 225-247." History and Technology 14: 225-247.

38 Lesger, C. (2006). The Rise of the Amsterdam Market and Information Exchange: Merchants, Commercial Expansion and Change in the Spatial

Economy of the Low Countries, c. 1550-1630. Burlington, VT, Ashgate. Gelderblom, O. (2003). "From Antwerp to Amsterdam. The Contribution of Merchants from the Southern Netherlands to the Commercial Expansion of Amsterdam (c. 1540-1609)." Review. A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center 26(3): 247-283..

39 On the ribbon loom: Vogel, J. (1986). "De zijdelintindustrie te Haarlem, 1663-1780." Jaarboek voor de Geschiedenis van Bedrijf en Techniek 3: 76-91.

40 On the exploration of new markets: Israel, J. (1989). Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740. New York, Oxford University Press.; On bookkeeping: Davids, K. (2004). The bookkeeper's tale : learning merchant skills in the Northern Netherlands in the sixteenth century. Education and learning in the Netherlands, 1400-1600 : essays in honour of Hilde de Ridder-Symoens. K. Goudriaan, J. v. Moolenbroek and A. Tervoort. Leiden, Brill 235-251.

41 See for example on sugar refiners: Poelwijk, A. (2003). "In dienste vant suyckerbacken" De Amsterdamse suikernijverheid en haar ondernemers, 1580-1630. Hilversum, Verloren.; On leather production: Gelderblom, O. (2003). "The Governance of Early Modern Trade: The Case of Hans Thijs (1556-1611)." Enterprise & Society 4(4): 606-639.; On tobacco manufacturing: Roessingh, H. K. (1976). Inlandse tabak Expansie en contractie van een handelsgewas in de 17e en 18e eeuw in Nederland. Zutphen, Walburg Pers.

42 The example is based on: Gelderblom, O. (2003). "The Governance of Early Modern Trade: The Case of Hans Thijs (1556-1611)." Enterprise & Society 4(4): 606-639.

43 Davids, K. (1995). Beginning Entrepreneurs and Municipal Governments in Holland at the Time of the Republic. Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in Early Modern Times. Merchants and Industrialists within the Orbit of the Duch Staple Market. C. M. Lesger and L. Noordegraaf. The Hague, Stichting Hollandse Historische Reeks.



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