Amsterdam and Northern Europe

Amsterdam and Northern Europe

Amsterdam was Europe’s first major centre for the exchange of war materials between states and contractors across Europe, as well as producing weaponry and warships, and supplying credit across a wider network of other hubs. Some of these connections will be explored through the other case studies, but this study will examine how Amsterdam was at the centre of the full development of Europe’s Fiscal-Military System during the Nine Years War (1688-97) and War of Spanish Succession (1701-14) and its aftermath. These wars saw grand coalitions spanning the powers of western, northern, southern and central Europe to contain what was perceived as the danger of French hegemony. At the heart of these coalitions was an Anglo-Dutch alliance forged by the Dutch stadholder, William of Orange, following his seizure of the British crowns in the Glorious Revolution (1688). None of these events would have been possible without the fiscal-military exchanges agreed in Amsterdam which secured the services of thousands of auxiliary troops from Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire and elsewhere. This section of the study thus complements the study on London, which rapidly overtook Amsterdam for many transactions, as well as those on Vienna and Genoa through which subsidiary links extended to the Holy Roman Empire and to the Mediterranean.

This study will focus on a particular group of military enterprisers: the solliciteur militaire. These individuals, most of whom resided in the political centre The Hague, were financial intermediaries employed by the Dutch provinces to handle troop payments and advance the money when necessary. The Republic and its partners in the Grand alliance depended on their private networks and creditworthiness to secure the manpower needed in times of war. It was their networks that connected the financial centre of Amsterdam to theatres of war where soldiers had to be paid. At the same time, many of the military solicitors fulfilled a double role and also acted as agents of the German princes that supplied the allies with troops and actively negotiated agreements between the various partners on their behalf. The focus on this specific group of actors enables us to get a better understanding of role of international supply of manpower in early modern intra-state relations. As the suppliers representatives in the Hague, the military solicitors remained important after the end of the war to negotiate the payment of arrears. The study of these individuals contributes to testing the hypothesis that Amsterdam’s importance as a leading hub was related to its role in assisting in the fulfilment of agreements made elsewhere.

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