The Austrian Netherlands’ transit policy and its influence on the trade flows between the Dutch Republic and the Southern Netherlands in the eighteenth century

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

In the early eighteenth century the Southern or Austrian Netherlands (nowadays Belgium) had an obsolete transportation network. The different cities were connected to each other by unpaved roads, which turned into a quagmire after every rainfall, making it an impossible task to maintain a steady flow of goods between markets. Therefore the Southern Netherlands' cities relied on river shipping for their export and import.
As such, the Dutch Republic, situated at these river's mouths, controlled the exports and imports of the Southern Netherlands. Antwerp's fate in the early modern times is probably the best known example.
This situation was not to the liking of the enlightened and absolutist imperial authorities in Vienna. To halt the Dutch control of the Southern Netherlands' international trade, the central authorities in Brussels - echoing orders from Vienna - launched an immense road building and canal digging program. This new transportation network, totalling over 2800 kilometres of paved road, linked the German hinterland to the South Netherlandish North Sea port of Ostend, and thus bypassed the Dutch Republic.
By using toll revenues on the Southern Netherlands' roads, rivers and canals we can measure and determine the commercial flows' evolution throughout the eighteenth century. These measurements show how traffic increased to Ostend and thus to Germany, and how it decreased towards the Dutch Republic. The Southern Netherlands' transport policy gives us a new insight into explaining the Dutch economic decline in the eighteenth century and Belgium's early industrialisation in the nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Biennial Conference of the Economic Society of South Africa in collaboration with the Economic History Society of Southern Africa
EditorsEconomic Society Of South Africa, Economic History Society Of Southern Africa
Place of PublicationJohannesburg, South Africa
PublisherAfrican SUN Media
Pages124-124
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Event2007 Biennial Conference of the Economic Society of South Africa & Economic History Society of Southern Africa - Indaba Conference and Resort Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa
Duration: 11 Sep 200714 Sep 2007

Conference

Conference2007 Biennial Conference of the Economic Society of South Africa & Economic History Society of Southern Africa
Abbreviated titleESSA
CountrySouth Africa
CityJohannesburg
Period11/09/0714/09/07

Bibliographical note

Economic Society of South Africa and Economic History Society of Southern Africa

Keywords

  • Austrian Netherlands
  • Dutch Republic
  • transit policy
  • trade

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