Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2014

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines English and Dutch political economy through an analysis of economic regulation during the last decade of the seventeenth century. The 1690s were a moment at which the relationship between England and the Dutch Republic was more tightly intertwined than ever before with William of Orange serving as both Dutchstadhouderand English king. This period was also a crossroads in economic history, after the peak of the Dutch Golden Age, but before the English economy had reached its full potential. The decade's crises tested the ability of the English and Dutch governments to manage the economy. I ask what role centralization played in their ability to weather these storms.

Rather than taking an exclusively top-down approach, I concentrate on the individuals and groups which were affected by regulation — the guild-brothers, the smugglers, the projectors, the local worthies, and the directors of the monopoly companies. These individuals and groups were not only the subjects of regulation, but in many cases also the initiators of new economic policies.

I argue that centralization, or the lack thereof, was the most important factor in shaping English and Dutch political economy. While England was one of the most centralized states in Europe, the Dutch Republic was one of the least. The concentration of political power in England at the national level and in the Dutch Republic at the grassroots level produced two profoundly different economic cultures. The English economy was dominated by individual profit-seekers whereas in the Dutch Republic corporative groups such as guilds, religious communities, and cities played a greater role Taking these differences into account, I argue that the Dutch economy was neither stagnant nor the victim of English plundering, but was instead as active as England's during the 1690s. Only through a comparative approach can we appreciate the separate paths the English and Dutch took to capitalism and economic modernity.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Derek Hirst

Committee Members

Daniel Bornstein, Alexandre Dubé, Christine Johnson, Charles H Parker, Andrew Sobel


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