Gijs Dreijer

Department: History
Discipline: History
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for Maritime Studies

Project Summary

My project looks at the mechanisms of underpinning maritime trade in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the Southern Netherlands through the principle of General Average (GA). GA is an instrument, dating back to Roman times, which shares extraordinary costs in mercantile maritime trade over all the participants (investors, shipmasters etc.). Historians have generally considered GA not to have developed during its long existence. I hypothesize, however, that in the Southern Netherlands the shift in economic dominance in Bruges and Antwerp from the German Hansa to the English Merchant Adventurers and the Italian and Spanish merchants led to changes in the way maritime trade was conducted, which in turn also influenced legal innovation. By focusing on this very specific example of GA, I hope to uncover the shifts in the maritime trade and economic structures in the Southern Netherlands, both in maritime, legal and commercial terms. Methodologically, this project will focus on the formal and informal resolutions that were drawn in courts in the Southern Netherlands, both the (general) city courts and the separate courts that granted jurisdiction to several nationes in Bruges and Antwerp, such as the Castilians and the Merchant Adventurers. By looking at court cases on GA in Bruges, Mechlin and Antwerp, this project hopes to shed new light on the legal mechanisms that underpinned maritime and mercantile expansion in the early modern period, and stimulated trade by lowering transaction and protection costs, leading to an uptick in trade in maritime routes in early modern Europe.

Supervisory Team

Co-supervised by Prof. Maria Fusaro (University of Exeter) and Prof. Dave de Ruysscher (Free University of Brussels / Tilburg University). 

Wider Research Interests

My wider research interests include the Great Divergence, the Rise of the West and comparative economic history of the early modern world. During my BA and MA I mainly focused on the role of chartered companies and individuals within those companies.

Authored Publications/Reports

G.P. Dreijer (June 2017) De Amfioen Sociƫteit als organisatorisch experiment: achttiende-eeuws beleid bij de VOC in Oost-Westperspectief, Skript Historisch Tijdschrift, 38, 2