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Property, power and participation in local administration in the Dutch delta in the early modern period

  • PAUL BRUSSE (a1)

Abstract

According to the literature inspired by the ideas of Robert Brenner, leaseholders, small farmers and craftsmen did not participate in the local administration of those districts in the Dutch Republic where the majority of land was owned by large landowners. However, in this article we show that, at least in the Dutch river clay area, where water management was an essential part of the population's struggle to survive the annual floods, the battle against the elements induced people, regardless of their property relations and social distinctions, to share power in order to overcome the challenges they all faced. The study also contributes to the growing literature about the effects of water management on political culture in the North Sea area.

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ENDNOTES

1 Gelders Archief Arnhem NL (hereafter GAA): Archief Staten van het Kwartier van Nijmegen en hun gedeputeerden 1574–1805 (hereafter AKN), no. 376, Aalst, fo. 18. Regionaal Archief Rivierenland Tiel NL (hereafter RAR): Archief van de Geërfden (Dorpsbestuur) vanaf 1810 Dorpspolder Nederhemert 1616–1836 (hereafter AGN), no. 988; Archief Geërfden Aalst 1547–1954 (hereafter AGA), no. 1; Roessingh, H. K. and Schaars, A. H. G., De Gelderse landbouw beschreven omstreeks 1825 (Wageningen, 1996), 111; Mentink, G. J. and van Os, Johan, Over-Betuwe: Geschiedenis van een polderland (Zutphen, 1985), 105–06.

2 Brusse, Paul, Overleven door ondernemen: De agrarische geschiedenis van de Over-Betuwe 1650–1850 (Wageningen, 1999), 201–06, 215–17.

3 Tielhof, Milja van and van Dam, Petra J. E. M., Waterstaat in stedenland: Het hoogheemraadschap van Rijnland voor 1857 (Utrecht, 2006), 36. Whether these villagers should be called farmers or peasants is still a subject for debate. See Hoppenbrouwers, P. and van Zanden, J. L., ‘Introduction’, in Hoppenbrouwers, P. and van Zanden, J. L. eds., Peasants into farmers? The transformation of rural economy and society in the Low Countries (Middle Ages–nineteenth century) in light of the Brenner debate (Turnhout, 2001), 20.

4 Soens, Tim, ‘Polders zonder poldermodel? Een onderzoek naar de rol van inspraak en overleg in de waterstaat van de laatmiddeleeuwse Vlaamse kustvlakte (1250–1600)’, Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 4 (2006), 337.

5 Soens, Tim, ‘Floods and money: funding drainage and flood control in coastal Flanders from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries’, Continuity and Change 26, 3 (2011), 333–65.

6 de Wilt, Carla, Landlieden en hoogheemraden: de bestuurlijk ontwikkeling van het waterbeheer en de participatiecultuur in Delfland in de zestiende eeuw (Hilversum, 2015), 128283.

7 Aston, T. H. and Philpin, C. H. E. eds., The Brenner debate: agrarian class structure and economic development in pre-industrial Europe (Cambridge, 1985).

8 Robert P. Brenner, ‘The Low Countries in the transition to capitalism’, in Hoppenbrouwers and van Zanden eds., Peasants into farmers?, 302–03, 310–11; Jan de Vries, ‘The transition to capitalism in a land without feudalism’, in Hoppenbrouwers and van Zanden eds., Peasants into farmers?, 67–84; Bas van Bavel, ‘Elements in the transition of the rural economy: factors contributing to the emergence of large farmers in the Dutch river area (fifteenth – sixteenth centuries)’, in Hoppenbrouwers and van Zanden eds., Peasants into farmers?, 197. See also van Bavel, B. J. P., ‘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 172 (2001), 1922, 30–4, 37–8.

9 van Bavel, Bas J. P. and Hoyle, Richard W., ‘Introduction’, in van Bavel, Bas J. P. and Hoyle, Richard W. eds., Rural economy and society in north-western Europe, 500–2000: social relations: property and power (Turnhout, 2010), 6, 7.

10 Bas van Bavel, Piet van Cruyningen and Erik Thoen, ‘The Low Countries 1000–1750’, in van Bavel and Hoyle eds., Rural economy and society in north-western Europe, 186–7.

11 Van Bavel, van Cruyningen and Thoen, ‘The Low Countries 1000–1750’, 187.

12 Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe, 207; Brusse, Overleven, 201–06.

13 Bankoff, Greg, ‘The “English Lowlands” and the North Sea basin system: a history of shared risk’, Environment and History 19, 1 (2013), 30, 31.

14 Morgan, John Emrys, ‘The micro-politics of water management in early modern England: regulation and representation in Commissions of Sewers’, Environment and History 23, 3 (2017), 409–30.

15 van Kappen, O. Moorman, Korf, Jan and van Verschuer, W. A. Baron, Tieler- en Bommelerwaarden 1327–1977 (Zaltbommel, 1977); Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe.

16 Bieleman, Jan, Boeren in Nederland: Geschiedenis van de landbouw 1500–2000 (Amsterdam, 2008), 93, 94, 185–201.

17 Brusse, Overleven, 115–267.

18 Noordam, D. J., Leven in Maasland: Een hoogontwikkelde plattelandssamenleving in de achttiende en het begin van de negentiende eeuw (Hilversum, 1986), 6874; Schutte, G. J., Een Hollandse dorpssamenleving in de late achttiende eeuw: De banne Graft 1770–1810 (Franeker, 1989), 4469; Nobel, Arjan, Besturen op het Hollandse platteland: Cromstrijen 1550–1780 (Zutphen, 2012), 77, 115–21, 145, 147.

19 Bommelerwaard formed a part of the administrative district of Bommeler- and Tielerwaard. The province of Gelderland was divided into three Kwartieren. One of them was the Kwartier of Nijmegen, which included a large part of the Guelders river area.

20 Kuys, J., ‘Dagelijkse heerlijkheden in de Bommeler- en Tielerwaard tot het midden van de zeventiende eeuw’, in Bijdragen en Mededelingen Gelre LXX (1978/79), 1, 2; Moorman van Kappen et al., Tieler- en Bommelerwaarden, 23; Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe, 42, 104; Brusse, Overleven, 392, 393, 398. Overbetuwe: the area west of the Pannerdens Canal, east of Nederbetuwe and between the Rhine (Nederrijn) and the Waal rivers, except for Huissen and Gendt. Bommelerwaard: all villages in that area apart from the small town of Zaltbommel and Heerewaarden.

21 GAA: Archief heerlijkheid Nederhemert 2 1325–1876 (hereafter AHN), no. 3; RAR: Archief Ambt en Dijkstoel Overbetuwe 1427–1838 (hereafter AAD), no. 9; Archief Dorpspolders Overbetuwe 1652–1954 (hereafter ADO), no. 1623; AGG, no. 585; Moorman van Kappen et al., Tieler- en Bommelerwaarden, 20–3, 120–7, 142–7; Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe, 32–5, 42, 183.

22 Modderman, P. J. R., ‘Het oudheidkundig onderzoek van de oude woongronden in de Bommelerwaard boven de Meidijk’, in Bulletin van de KNOB zesde serie (1949), 191222; Modderman, P. J. R., ‘De bewonersgeschiedenis van de Over- en Neder-Betuwe’, in Egberts, H. ed., De bodemgesteldheid van de Betuwe (‘s-Gravenhage, 1950), 6870; Stein, M. A. M., ‘De bewoningsgeschiedenis van de Bommelerwaard tot de 10de eeuw’, in Berendsen, H. J. A. ed., Het landschap van de Bommelerwaard: Nederlandse geografische studies 10 (Amsterdam/Utrecht, 1986), 61–6; van Bavel, B. J. P., Transitie en continuïteit: De bezitsverhoudingen en de plattelandseconomie in het westelijke gedeelte van het Gelderse rivierengebied, ca. 1300–ca. 1570 (Hilversum, 1999), 61–4; van Bavel, ‘Land, lease’, 8, 19–22, 30–4, 37–8; van der Linden, H., ‘Het platteland in het Noordwesten met nadruk op de occupatie circa 1000–1300’, Algemene Geschiedenis der Nederlanden, Volume II (Haarlem, 1980); Nobel, Besturen, 32.

23 Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe, 34–5, 52.

24 For a commentary on the land tax registers (verpondingsregisters), see Brusse, Overleven, 45–54, 123–6, 403, 469–70.

25 These figures were calculated on the basis of the tax registers from three villages in Bommelerwaard: Nederhemert, Aalst and Gameren. These villages can be taken as representative of the region as a whole. In total, over a thousand plots of lands under cultivation are registered in these villages, together accounting for 1,645 morgen (about 1,400 hectares).

26 GAA AKN, nos. 373, 376; ‘Grootte der gronden tijdens de invoering van het kadaster’, Verslag van den Landbouw in Nederland (Den Haag, 1875); Bieleman, Boeren, 93–6 Brusse, Overleven, 48, 213–23, 293–303. On account of the poor soil, only about 26 per cent of all farmland in Bommelerwaard consisted of arable land.

27 GAA AKN, nos. 373, 376; Brusse, Overleven, 132–3, 145–9, 177–82.

28 GAA AKN, nos. 373, 376; Brusse, Overleven, 124.

29 de Vries, Jan and van der Woude, Ad, The first modern economy: success, failure, and perseverance of the Dutch economy, 1500–1815 (Cambridge, 1997), 320–1; Roessingh and Schaars, De Gelderse landbouw beschreven omstreeks 1825, 184; Bieleman, Boeren, 191–2, 199.

30 GAA AKN, no. 376; Oorspronkelijk Aanwijzende Tafels van Nederhemert sectie B, blad 01 (de Binnenpolder), photographs were consulted at www.watwaswaar.nl, in March 2014. The photographs can now (March 2017) be found at http://beeldbank.cultureelerfgoed.nl/alle-afbeeldingen. Since the 1650 tax registers contain too little information on the ‘forelands’ (the land outside the dykes), any comparison is confined to the land within the dykes. The part of Nederhemert within the dykes to the north of the Maas River lends itself best to such comparisons. Bieleman, Boeren, 191–2, 199.

31 Brusse, Overleven, 57, 244–9.

32 Ibid., 57, 69–72, 87–91, 137–8, 228–33, 283–6.

33 Ibid., 124, 127 131–3, 186–7, 354; Paul Brusse et al., ‘The Low Countries’, in van Bavel and Hoyle eds., Rural economy and society in north-western Europe, 199–227, 202, 203.

34 Note that the period observed in Nederhemert was less than 20 years. Details of the appointments of the schepenen and heemraden did not all survive.

35 RAR: Archief Geërfden Kerkwijk 1698–1795 (hereafter AGK), no. 967; AGG, no. 585, 1618; AGA, no. 1.

36 GAA AHN, no. 3; O. Moorman van Kappen et al., Tieler- en Bommelerwaarden, 120–31.

37 GAA AKN, no. 373; Archief van de familie Van Kerkwijck 1657–1875 (hereafter AFK), nos. 11, 174; AGG, nos. 1610, 1612; RAR RAN, no. 260; Groenendijk, Jan, ‘“De parel en de kroon”: Hoe de familie Lenshoek wel de heerlijkheid Kerkwijk, maar niet Delwijnen in bezit kreeg’, Tussen Voorn en Loevestein, 45, 137 (2009).

38 GAA AKN, no. 373; AFK, nos. 11, 174; AGG, nos. 1610, 1612; RAR: Rechterlijk Archief Nederhemert 1513–1810 (hereafter RAN), no. 260.

39 RAR AGA, no. 1.

40 RAR AGA, no. 1.

41 RAR: Archief Geërfden Gameren 1623–1838 (hereafter AGG), no 579; AGA no 1.

42 RAR AGG, nos. 598, 599.

43 Brusse, Overleven, 388.

44 Mentink and van Os, Over-Betuwe, 34.

45 RAR ADO, nos. 4, 5, 2551, 4725.

46 RAR ADO, nos. 703, 2109, 2250, 4725.

47 RAR ADO, nos. 1, 4, 5, 2107D, 2256, 5595.

48 RAR ADO, nos. 1, 4, 5, 2551, 5595; Brusse, Overleven, 115–91.

49 RAR ADO, nos. 840, 5162, 5595.

50 RAR ADO, nos. 1, 2063, 2551, 4725, 5595; AAD, nos. 7, 8, 9.

51 RAR ADO, no. 1.

52 RAR ADO, nos. 2063, 2551, 4725, 5595; AAD, nos. 7, 8, 9.

53 van Zanden, Jan Luiten, The long road to the Industrial Revolution: the European economy in global perspective, 1000–1800 (Leiden and Boston, 2009), 190–94; Morgan, ‘The micro-politics’.

54 RAR AAD, nos. 3–12, 702, 2107D, 2245.

55 RAR AAD, nos. 3–12, 61, 62, 228A, 701, 702, 703, 840, 2107D, 2245, 2250, 2251, 2252; Brusse, Overleven, 18, 423.

56 RAR ADO, no. 1, 2063, 2064, 2551, 4725, 5595.

57 RAR ADO, no. 5595.

58 RAR ADO, nos. 1, 2063, 2064,2551, 4725, 5595.

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