Accepted paper:

Italian merchants in Amsterdam, 1650-1700

Authors:

Maarten Draper (European University Institute)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper the social, religious, political, and economic activities and affiliations of the Italian merchants in Amsterdam in the second half of the seventeenth century is reviewed. The main question of the paper is: to what extent was 'Italianness' the basis of these activities?

Paper long abstract:

Perhaps one of the most debated changes in the early modern history of the European economy is the rise of Dutch commerce and shipping during the seventeenth century. After Antwerp lost its primacy due to the Dutch Revolt, Amsterdam became the center of European trade for a period of time. The city's population boomed due to expanding trade, shipping, and industry. Amsterdam was a gateway to the vast Dutch trading system and offered opportunities to a wide range of immigrants from across Europe. A small, divers group of merchants from Italy, or of Italian descent, was also attracted to Amsterdam. The group consisted of Genoese, Florentines, Venetians, and Lombards, who came to Amsterdam directly from Italy, or via other northern trade centers. The group consisted of Catholics, Calvinists, and Jews. As Amsterdam did not formally recognize 'trade nations', the question arises whether they constituted a group at all. In this paper this question is explored by reviewing the social, religious, political, and economic activities of the Italian merchants in Amsterdam in the second half of the seventeenth century. Through a study of both Dutch and Italian source material an attempt is made to assess to what extent 'Italianness' was a basis for these activities. Finally, the findings are related to discussions about the merchant diasporas and the 'modernity' of the Amsterdam institutional context.

panel P02
L'Italia fuori d'Italia' revisited: Italian merchant diaspora(s) after the Renaissance