Tolerant migrant cities? The case of Holland 1600-1900


In current debates Dutch early modern cities are portrayed as prime examples of harmonious societies in which migrants and native born lived peacefully together. Discrimination of migrants by criminal courts was non-existent, nor were there any conflicts or violence between native city dwellers and immigrants.
This image is even more remarkable when one considers that before 1800 migrants made up ca. 25 to 60% of the urban residents. Their culture, language and customs were different from locals and many of them ended up in the poorest layers of society. So, this raises the question how credible the image of the tolerant Dutch cities really is and how this changed over time?
This pioneering project will answer this question by examining migrants through the eyes of the courts in the highly urbanized coastal provinces of the Netherlands (Holland) between 1600 and 1900. It aims to reveal patterns of continuity and change in: 1. Treatment of migrants by criminal courts; 2. Violence and conflicts between migrants and native born. Holland is an excellent case study for various reasons: between 1600 and 1830 it was characterized by exceptionally high immigration and in the course of the period the proportion and types of migrants changed considerably. The research is feasible because of the ample availability of legal sources, which have hardly been examined.
Our innovative focus will answer the question to what extent the image of tolerance of Dutch cities in Holland has to be adjusted and what the implications are for the present.





Prof. dr. M.P.C. van der Heijden

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden University Institute for History


01/09/2019 tot 01/09/2024