Sweet and Sour. Economic Turmoil and Resilience of the Sugar Sector in Antwerp and Rotterdam, 1795-1815

M. 't Hart, Hilde Greefs

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The recurrent wars of 1795-1815 coincided with numerous regime changes. Like many other port cities, Antwerp and Rotterdam faced unrest and economic insecurity, not least caused by Napoleon’s Continental Blockade in 1806. Historical accounts tend to stress the deteriorating conditions for the business world resulting from the restrictions in maritime trade. This article will focus on how sugar traders and sugar refiners faced difficulties, which strategies they applied to overcome crises, and whether they were successful in their attempts or not. The highly remunerative strategies of redirection, diversification and specialisation were sustained by networks; networks that provided the necessary information, furthered the spreading of risk and enabled merchants to profit from new solutions or opportunities. Resilience was boosted further by the growing domestic market that was willing to pay high prices for a luxury item such as sugar. Above all, the affluent businessmen and larger firms managed to weather the times of crises particularly well.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)3-26
Number of pages24
JournalBMGN - Low Countries Historical Review
Volume133
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2018

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