Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Conflicts between migrants and locals in Leiden and Rotterdam, 1680-1800

Due to its economic prosperity, its policy of (relative) religious tolerance, and its large numbers of migrants, the Dutch Republic has long had a reputation of being the prime example of ‘tolerance’, especially during the seventeenth century. Although the great variety of newcomers in the Dutch Republic did launch an era of economic prosperity, they were also the cause of social unrest. Cultural differences, combined with the increased residential density, were instigators for numerous difficulties in everyday urban life. However, little is known about the daily practices of local and migrant co-existence: to what extent were newcomers treated as outsiders and did daily interactions between migrants and the local population of these cities lead to more conflicts? Did certain prejudices against newcomers make them more vulnerable, as targets of conflict and violence or to suspicion by the authorities?

2020 - 2025

In order to answer the question to what extent immigration in Rotterdam and Leiden between 1680 and 1800 gave rise to discriminatory patterns in criminal prosecution and conflict regulation among natives and immigrants, I will be looking a variety of judicial sources. With the purpose of analyzing both the daily practices of local an migrant co-existence as well as migrant vulnerability before the courts through the use of these sources of social control, this project focusses on how the cities of Leiden and Rotterdam dealt with public order disturbances, violence and cases of sodomy.

The aim of this project is not only to reconstruct the ways in which certain characteristics and migration-status played into the treatment of different types of people before the early modern courts, but also to consider the conflicts behind certain cases that reached the city courts, such as violent offences. Conflicts and how they were dealt with both by the people involved and by authorities in particular provide a privileged insight for studying everyday interactions and relations between established city dwellers and newcomers in a city or neighbourhood.

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