Whats in a name? Challenging early modern ideal-types of private partnerships in the Low Countries (17th-18th centuries)
PhD student: Mrs M. Moerman
Promotor: Mr B. Van Hofstraeten
Duration: 1/9/2017 - 31/8/2021
Up to now, legal historians have addressed the nature and development of private partnerships, created in the Early Modern Low Countries, by means of (originally French) ideal-type categories like the general partnership (socit gnrale), the limited partnership (socit en commandite), contractus trini, etc. This project hypothesizes that Early Modern entrepreneurs did not think or act in terms of model categories. On the contrary, they created a much more diverse and dynamic spectrum of corporate structures. In order to discover the actual corporate structures, notarized partnership agreements from three economic centers of the Low Countries (Lige, Amsterdam and Antwerp) will be examined. These contracts, produced by the entrepreneurs themselves, will reveal the true nature and development of private partnerships in the Early Modern Low Countries. The subproject I will be working on as a Ph.D. researcher examines private partnership agreements in Amsterdam. This city experienced its Golden Age during the seventeenth century, already granting its economic history with a lot of scholarly attention. Whereas, to this day, the focus of historical researchers lies almost exclusively on the success of chartered companies for colonial trade, very little attention has been paid to the smaller and more modestly organized private partnerships. This is a deplorable gap in the history of company law, which this project wants to fill. We expect the huge economic growth in Amsterdam during the seventeenth century not only resulted in a large amount of private partnership agreements, but also attracted many foreign entrepreneurs who might have brought some innovative legal ideas from abroad into the Amsterdam corporate structures. Furthermore, it is interesting to find out to what extent the legal structure of the huge chartered companies for colonial trade influenced the smaller private partnerships or vice versa. The legal characteristics and organisational structure of private partnerships established in the city of Amsterdam during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries will be examined. I will make use of those partnership agreements, registered by notaries who were active in Amsterdam and whose protocol books are being preserved in the Amsterdam City Archives.
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