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Danger and displacement in the Dollard: The 1509 flooding of the Dollard sea (Groningen) and its impact on long-term inequality in the distribution of property.


It has frequently been shown that, after severe floods in the pre-industrial period, property within the afflicted rural society often became redistributed more inequitably. This is often seen to be because small farmers did not have the resources to buffer exceptional losses. This article looks at an episode of crisis that occurred in the region of Northeast Groningen (the Netherlands) close to the Dollard Sea--the breakthrough of a key dike in 1509 and the subsequent desertion of settlements through flooding. Local farmers lost their lands, and moved away onto higher and safer sandy ridges. After this event, the sixteenth century represented a 'fight-back' against the water, where some attempts were made to reclaim and drain the newly sodden and marshy land. The questions addressed in this paper are then twofold. Firstly, for those that lost their farms during this episode, were they able to regain their property? Into whose hands did the newly reclaimed land fall? Secondly, what impact did this have on future property distribution and levels of equality in the region? Is it necessarily true that smallholders were not able to buffer these kinds of terrible events and lost their lands to more powerful elite groups? This paper shows that, while consolidation of land into 'elite' or 'absentee' social groups often did occur as a consequence of strong exogenous environmental shocks such as flooding, this did not inevitably lead to inequality at the user-level--that is, at the local level at which the land was being farmed. In fact, it is even suggested that consolidation of land into the hands of elite groups such as urban burghers and institutions sometimes could put a direct block on the emergence of large farms and the development of 'agrarian capitalism'.


Flooding, inequality, property, reclamation, Low Countries

With regard to the redistributive impact of environmental shocks in pre-industrial Europe, most literature has tended to focus on the effects of plague (especially the Black Death) and harvest failures. One of the classic early works on this issue was David Herlihy's research into the region of Pistoia in Tuscany in the late Middle Ages. (1) According to Herlihy, the plague had an egalitarian effect on property and wealth distribution in the short-term, resulting from mass mortality and incessant fragmentation of patrimonies due to the prevailing system of partible inheritance among sons. These initial egalitarian effects were reversed over the medium and long term by speculation and hoarding due to new conditions in the housing and land market. (2) The Black Death as the final death-knell to serfdom and feudal relations across many parts of Western Europe may have in turn weakened the packages of overlapping and complex rights, privileges and obligations regarding land--increasing incentives to consolidate and accumulate property. (3) Herlihy's chronology matches up with what Bruce Campbell showed in his well-studied region of Norfolk: very little consolidation of land could be discerned at all after the Black Death (together with a general sluggishness in the land market), and the consolidation of property into larger estates only occurred much later down the line in the long term. (4) More recently, these interpretations and chronologies have been disputed, however. Guido Alfani, for example, has shown that, while the Black Death may have had an immediate equitable impact for the distribution of property and wealth in Tuscany, this was not reversed over the medium term but trigged a decline in inequality for the next 150 years. (5) Also Alfani's interpretation of the redistributive impact of seventeenth-century Northern Italian plagues conflicts with the traditional Herlihy view: a short-term equitable impact after 1630, but also not reversing over the medium or long term towards inequality--merely returning over time to pre-plague levels. (6) More agreement has tended to be offered in the context of subsistence crises--in particular the connection between distress land sales, overly burdened peasants and harvest failures. (7) Thus in the context of the Great Famine of 1315-17, the land market has been described as exceptionally 'volatile' and skewed, temporarily at least, to the advantage of a minority of rich tenants. (8) Periods of dearth apparently helped consolidate the position of large producers who could manipulate markets to the detriment of the poor peasant or agricultural labourer. (9)

Plague and famine were not the same as other environmental shocks such as earthquakes, fires or floods, however, because, while their human cost was often incredibly high, they left the actual physical resources such as land and housing untouched. Nevertheless, of the literature considering the redistributive impact of flooding (and there has been a surge of interest in recent years), most scholars still tend to suggest that terrible floods led to heightened inequality in the distribution of property--both in the short and long term. Thus, according to Manfred Jakubowski-Tiessen, for the severe early eighteenth-century floods that hit the northern coastal areas of Germany, small farmers or peasants apparently did not have the resources to buffer their exceptional losses, (10) an outcome perhaps exacerbated by repeat outbreaks of malaria. (11) Similarly, recent scholarship has shown, in the flood-prone plains of the Po Valley (Northern Italy), that the repeat inundations seen in the course of the sixteenth century, a period of exceptional climatic instability, led to a situation whereby peasant producers were susceptible to expropriation by urban investors, stimulating in turn widespread outward migration from the country. side to the cities. (12) In the considerable body of work now produced by Tim Soens for the Flemish coastal regions in the transition from the Middle Ages to the early modern period, he has tended to be more interested in the opposite causal relationship: that is, the decline in peasant property structures and the rise in large-scale absentee land ownership led to a greater susceptibility to flooding. (13) However, he does in places also indicate that repeat floods could reinforce further inequality: for example the reinvestment in protective embankments by wealthy urban citizens and institutions led to a consolidation of absentee landownership, (14) leading in turn to changes in property structures at the local level, such as the proliferation of large lease farms. (15) Other scholars working on the Zuid-Beveland region of Zeeland have emphasised the trend in investment in property by wealthy Mechelen and Antwerp merchants after the terrible storms of the sixteenth century. (16) Research into flooding outside Europe suggests that this process may have been cyclical: the polarisation of society pushing the poor into more dangerous and vulnerable situations, in turn making them more susceptible to ruination by flooding and thereby increasing any inequality seen. (17)

As interest in the redistributive impact of historical environmental shocks grows, however, there have been some very recent dissenters from this inevitable association of exogenous shock and increased inequality. In fact, recent scholarship in the Journal of Economic History and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History has suggested that the terrible shock of the earthquake and tsunami in Lisbon in 1755, which destroyed all kinds of housing, capital goods and agricultural land, turned out to be a 'force for good' by helping create structural reform for property previously dominated by the 'old' feudal groups of church and aristocracy. (18) So too have some scholars disputed the inequitable impact of flooding--in particular Piet van Cruyningen Van Cruyningen accepts that the floods of the sixteenth century in Zeeland (Southwest Netherlands) meant that many peasants lost land to urban investors, as he demonstrates by contrasting polders submerged by water with those left untouched by the floods. (19) However, for Van Cruyningen, this did not necessarily equate to increased inequality--at least not on a substantial scale--and he makes his point based around two arguments. First of all, he notes that just because urban landownership increased after the floods, this did not necessarily equate with large tracts of land--apparently most urban landlords had less than fifty hectares. (20) Second, Van Cruyningen suggests that, at the 'user level', that is those tenants who actually worked the land, the floods and urban land consolidation did not necessarily lead to increased inequality. In fact many tenants held small plots and it was only over time through their own enterprise that they could combine smallholdings (from numerous landlords at times) into larger ones. Floods and urban investment in vacant or vulnerable land meant nothing without a particular type of fluid and flexible land and lease market--in short, increased inequality was not inevitable. Other literature on the combination of floods and plagues in late thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Romney Marsh in Southeast England lend support to a reduced inequitable impact of these shocks--small peasant property structures were maintained well into the second half of the fifteenth century. (21) A recent summary on the redistributive impact of floods has stated, therefore, that the direction of redistribution could be quite unpredictable. (22)

The broader significance of understanding the causal mechanisms behind the divergent paths towards either a more 'equitable' or 'inequitable' distribution of property in the pre-industrial period is connected to the fact that farm sizes and distribution have played a dominant role in a long series of debates over the emergence of agrarian capitalism--which in turn has often been cited as one of the key factors behind eventual industrialisation in select parts of Western Europe. According to the classic Brennerian interpretation, the slow or retarded emergence of agrarian capitalism (and in turn industrialisation) was connected to the capacity of the small farmers or peasants to maintain and retain their hold over smallholdings, in spite of exogenous stress and shocks. Therefore any event leading to increased chances of expropriation or transfer of property from rural peasants or farmers to elite absentee groups such as urban investors or lords would be seen as leading to a greater likelihood of agrarian capitalism. (23) Other counter-interpretations have instead suggested that large farms and agrarian capitalism could be built from land transfer and consolidation within the ranks of the peasants and farmers themselves--establishing over time a clearer social hierarchy. (24) Understanding the mechanisms and processes by which exogenous shocks led to changes, even ruptures, in the distribution of property, then, may also bring us closer to understanding the differential spatial development over time of agrarian capitalism in Western Europe.

Given the unpredictability of the inequitable effect of environmental hazards on property distribution in pre-industrial Western Europe, this paper looks at the long-term relationship between the two by focusing in on a devastating flood at the beginning of the sixteenth century in a region of Northeast Groningen (Northeast Netherlands--see Figure 1) and property distribution thereafter, into the seventeenth century. While a substantial body of literature has shown evidence for significant flooding events in the thirteenth- and fourteenth centuries in the general North Sea area, (25) there seems to have been a particular proliferation of severe ones in the fifteenth- and sixteenth centuries. (26) Whether they happened more frequently in the late-medieval period or in the early modern period is still not easy to discern, given the problems of the sources, (27) but one thing is for sure--they continued intermittently to disrupt coastal societies in the North Sea Area every century all the way up to modern day. (28) The causality behind some of these floods is also still debated: some scholars pointing to an increase in 'storminess', (29) presumably in the context of a transition from the Medieval Warm Optimum to the Little Ice Age, (30) while other scholars instead point to an endogenous interpretation--that is, the generally decreasing societal resilience of North Sea coastal societies to floods. (31) What can be said at least is that the Cosmas- and Damianus storm floods that took place on the 26 September 1509 in northeast Groningen were not 'special', but an example of what could and did happen frequently around the North Sea area in the late-medieval and early modern periods--leading some even to argue for an ingrained coastal fear of the sea. (32)

Ultimately, these floods allowed the Dollard Sea to break through some key dikes in the region, leading to widespread flooding of farmland, destruction of housing and, in some cases, loss of life. Local peasant farmers who lost their farmland moved away onto higher and safer sandy ridges. After this event, the sixteenth century represented an attempted 'fight back' against the water, where efforts were made to reclaim and drain the newly sodden and marshy land (with varying levels of success). The questions addressed in this paper are, then, twofold. Firstly, for those who lost their farms during this episode, could they regain their property? In whose hands did newly reclaimed land fall? Secondly, what impact did this have on future property distribution and levels of equality in the region over the long term? Was it necessarily true that smallholders were unable to buffer against terrible events, leading to widespread land loss and increased inequality?

This paper is divided into three main sections. In the first section, the settlement and occupation context of the Dollard region is described before the 1509 flood, with some reference to the events of the flood itself. In the second section, the processes of displacement, recolonisation of the marshlands and changes in the arrangement and distribution of property are analysed. In the third section, the impact of these events and changes over the long term are assessed--did the floods lead to a lasting crystallisation of heightened inequality in the Dollard region, for example? This property distribution is placed within a comparative context and assessed relative to those parts of Groningen that did not experience the terrible flooding, as well as in a general comparison with property distribution found in other pre-industrial societies across Western Europe.


Before the Dollard Sea was properly formed (after the flood of 1509), this region, lying on what is now the borderland between Northeast Netherlands and Northwest Germany, was where the Eems river mouth flowed into the Wadden Sea. The region, prior to and throughout the Middle Ages, was characterised predominantly by peat soils, with salt marshes at the peat-edges and along the banks of the river. (33) Higher sandy ridges were formed further back from the coast. From the earliest dates of permanent settlement in this region, inhabitants knew a precarious existence--as did many along the Northern coastal marshes. In the early Middle Ages, settlements were given some protection from the water by being placed on raised mounds (terpen or wierden)? (34) A number of raised farmsteads are still traceable in the landscape between Woldendorp and Nieuwolda on the edge of the Dollard area. (35) On the other side of the Dollard (over the German border), isolated early-medieval settlements were raised on riverside levees and may have been points of origin for peat-land reclamation. (36)

Settlement could only expand over the peat areas of the Dollard, however, when the methods of water management and drainage became more sophisticated. From the high Middle Ages onwards, this came in the form of dike construction and the proliferation of small windmills and through the practice of mixing peat with sand. (37) Some of this early peat colonisation and dike building was financed and organised by large ecclesiastical institutions: there were a number of monasteries of various orders (Cistercian, Premonstratensian and the order of St. John) founded in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in this area of the Dollard. (38) These monasteries maintained effective drainage systems in order to cultivate their large farms and granges known as voorwerken, often worked by lay brethren. Regional magnates holding foreign leases and dignities may have stimulated other early reclamation. (39) Some high-ranking nobles certainly had interests in the region in the eleventh and twelfth centuries--a manor at Hatzum-Alte Boomborg has been identified, as well as a proliferation of estates. (40) The maintenance of the dikes and sluices was coordinated through a system of local formalised waterboards known as zijlvesten, (41) and frequently cooperation was facilitated by key figures from the monasteries, such as abbots, acting as chairpersons and negotiators. (42)

These early attempts at diking and colonisation allowed for the emergence of some precariously sited settlements all around the Dollard area from the eleventh and twelfth centuries. (43) New districts were formed in the Dollard area in the thirteenth century: the Reiderland to the north and the Oldambt to the south, mentioned for the first time in 1271. (44) A number of parish churches began to appear also between 1150 and 1300, though waterlogged conditions necessitated that they be moved over time towards the higher ridges. (45) These problems with water drainage also affected cultivation, leading to a number of severe grain shortages: Noordbroek and Zuidbroek in the Wold-Oldambt were singled out in particular in the chronicles of Menko of Bloemhof monastery at Wittewierum. (46) The problem with the colonisation of the peat lands, moreover, became more apparent over the late Middle Ages. Between 1250 and 1450, the soil surface was reduced from two to 0.3 metres above sea level. Present-day practices with the Nieuwe Statenzijl lead us to suppose that all land below 0.4 metres above sea level was flooded for long periods during the winter. Reclamation of the peat bogs and swamps caused erosion of the top layer of soil, leading to exposure to oxygen (oxidisation) and general soil subsidence. (47) Matters were made worse when excess water ran down from the peat highlands in the Veenkolonien to the south. (48)

The situation was then further exacerbated by the particular socio-political configuration of the region. Foreign overlords failed to maintain a jurisdictional grip over much of the Dollard, and local noble families such as the Addingas were pushed out into neighbouring Westerwolde to the south. Peasant colonists and their local leaders were left to their own devices, in turn stimulating, by the late Middle Ages, a situation of persistent tribal conflict and power struggle. In this battle for supremacy, sluices at Reide were set alight in 1413, (49) and a number of documents record situations where local farmers were unable to repair dikes, while absentee owners were simply unwilling. (50) One sixteenth-century document suggests that a locally powerful nobleman had explicitly refused to act unless waves went 'as high as a lance over his property'. (51) Constant warring disrupted the process of dike repair, and water had begun to seep through as far as Winschoten by 1445. (52) Dollard settlements were under constant threat of being submerged by water, of course situated within the wider context of the storms caused by the shifting climatic regimes of the transition from the Medieval Warm Optimum to the Little Ice Age, described above.

Despite this environmental vulnerability, culminating in localised flooding and seasonal drainage problems, the Dollard region did not experience its devastating flood until the sixteenth century--in contrast to what previous scholarship has suggested. One particular myth established by early modern cartographers suggested that the Dollard was entirely flooded through a storm surge on St. Stephen's Eve 1277--yet Otto Knottnerus has shown this to be completely untrue. (53) Other scholarly works pinpointed the Saint Lucia Flood of 1287, (54) or the Saint Marcellus Flood of 1362, as key dates for the collapse of the dikes and formation of the Dollard Sea. (55) Again Knottnerus has disputed these accounts on lack of evidence, and has shown that many of the late-medieval chronicles on which sixteenth-century documents and mapping were based, over-exaggerated the devastation. In particular, a fable is noted where the drowned monastery of Oosterreide is meant to have held 180 resident sisters, but in reality a tiny group of nuns simply moved away to Trimunt (near Marum) in 1528. (56) Furthermore, it is clear that many of the Reiderland and Oldambt settlements still existed even in the second half of the fifteenth century, since a key protective dike was constructed as late as 1454 from the banks of the Eems across the high peat-lands by Palmar to Finsterwolde, under pressure from Groningen. (57)

Nonetheless it is clear that signs of what was to come in 1509 were already being seen in incipient stages throughout the fifteenth century. Tidal foreshores and barrier islands began to be washed away--creating more exposure. (58) The old village of Scheemda was apparently deserted before the terrible storms of 1509, its former position shown by the remains of an isolated church not far from Nieuwolda known as 'Ol Kerkhof', with a grave containing fifty skeletons. (59) Settlements such as Meeden and Midwolda were also shifted from their original sites. (60) The remains of monasteries also provide evidence for incremental displacement in the Dollard region. (61) Menterwolde (Campis Silvae) monastery was relocated from its position east of Nieuwolda to Termunten in the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. (62) Palmar monastery was evacuated in 1446, with its property including significant voorwerken divided up between the monasteries of Wittewierum and Dockum. (63) Thus, even before the terrible storms at the beginning of the sixteenth century, people were beginning to slowly move themselves away from the coast, and settle further inland in a new series of villages (seen today) sitting upon safer sandy ridges separating the Dollard regions from the peat area of the Veenkolonien. Residents were seemingly well aware of the impending doom they would soon have to face. (64) However, the breaching of the key 1454 dike caused by violent storm surges in 1509 was the final death-knell to much peat-land settlement and cultivation in the Dollard region--by 1509 the Dollard Sea had been born. Otto Knottnerus has usefully listed all the known and potential settlement sites that were either drowned or displaced as a result (suggesting a total figure of 26-27 abandoned 'villages with churches'). (65) Many of the settlements mentioned in a register of territories under the bishopric of Munster in the late fifteenth century, disappeared from record thereafter (66) Figure 2 below shows an eighteenth-century reconstruction of what the Dollard area may have looked like before the flooding: a dense pattern of small settlements, and everything to the north of the thick curvy line eventually washed away after 1509.


The Cosmas and Damianus Floods of 1509 were catastrophic events for the Dollard region. The water that had swept over the former farmlands and houses had turned these areas into swampy marshes. The sixteenth century, then, represented the first stages of the human 'fightback' against the sea. Displaced villagers ultimately had the task of once again reclaiming the sodden ground--turning wastes into fields suitable for cultivation. One jurisdictional tool at the disposal of the local farmers was their 'recht van opstrek'; that was ownership over all marshes backing onto their property, of which they could reclaim as far as they wanted until a natural barrier was met or they met up with another property--although boundaries were frequently negotiated. (67) Some of the long narrow reclaimed strips could extend even for a number of kilometres, as retained most clearly in the landscape in nearby Slochteren. (68) As is well known from the classic literature on the colonisation of the Holland peat-lands, territorial lords such as the Count of Holland or the Bishop of Utrecht, looking to establish political footholds and a reservoir of taxes, bestowed these rights on peasant colonists. (69) What we do not know is whether the recht van opstrek in the Dollard region was bestowed on colonists of Fries-Hollandse origin who subsequently migrated to the Dollard area at some point in the Middle Ages; (70) or were rights given to colonists from territorial lords influential in the initial reclamation of the Dollard in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, such as the Bishop of Osnabruck and Bishop of Munster? Despite a lack of clarity over their origins, it is clear that, in many places around the Dollard, smallholding farmers were still in possession of their rights to reclaim wastes in the sixteenth century. (71)

Peasant colonists of the Dollard may have been armed then with favourable jurisdictions over the wastes backing onto their property, but a significant question still unanswered is where was their property? What happened to the land that was lost in the floods? Furthermore, given that many farmers were displaced, how did this impact on the already-resident farmers of the communities that were to become their destination? This is particularly curious since the disruption to these areas of the Dollard was already quite high, given that from the early stages of the sixteenth there had been an immigration of Mennonites (from Flanders, for example) escaping persecution. (72) Peter Hoppenbrouwers suggested that local farmers received equivalent land in the new locations where they were settled to that which had been lost, if they could provide written evidence, and that they were fined if found claiming too much. (73) Any unclaimed lands would revert into the hands of the city. However, this view seems to be based almost entirely on the charter describing the construction of the key Dollard dike in 1454, and not on any information extracted after the floods. (74) Nevertheless, this charter at least reveals how the city of Groningen's influence in building this fifteenth-century dike likely led to more urban influence on property rights and distribution after the floods. It gave the city a foundation towards greater future intervention in the region.

That the smallholding farmers may have had to abandon or give up their land in the years directly after the floods seems likely, at least. In some documents listed in the nineteenth-century volume by Stratingh and Venema, it is suggested that many farmers had no wish to repair the broken dikes and were in such a bad way that they surrendered much of the land to the city, as well as other lands elsewhere which were unaffected, so as to be free from the demands of dike maintenance. (75) In any case, archaeological evidence has shown that, even after the dramatic events of the Cosmas- and Damianus Floods, much of the clays of the Dollard continued to silt up into the 1520s. (76) Flooding continued and between 1554 and 1597 there were apparently at least eleven serious cases, the worst of which was the 'All Hallows Flood' of 1570. (77) In the chronicles of Abel Eppens (the remarkably surviving diaries and correspondence of a sixteenth-century landowning 'eigenerfde' farmer), he furthermore claimed that Wagenborgen was so inundated with water in 1538 that most farmers gave significant portions of their lands over to the city. (78) A classic symbolic gesture was to simply stick a spade in the lands occupying the dike, admitting surrender. (79)

Although an important dike had been constructed in 1542 (the Oude Dijk), the dijkbrief had to be rewritten and re-signed some thirty years later as a result of a confrontation between the inhabitants of Noordbroek (who apparently had not fulfilled their dike maintenance duties) and other outlying villages. (80) In 1520, the hamlet of Reider Hamrik had around 300 hectares of surface area, but only 160 hectares were said to be able to be cultivated. (81) In a document from 1520 concerning water management duties around the 'Punt van Reide', three out of 22 individuals and institutions had explicitly given refusal to contribute to dike maintenance between Reide and Dallingeweer (82) and, in a later document from 1549, two names had been struck off the list, suggesting that they had simply given up their lands. (83) Tacked onto the back of this document, another piece lists all those that had 'taken distance from their lands'--29 in total--and many of these people such as Tiddo Bouwens had featured on the earlier documentation in refusing to contribute to the dikes. (84) Still, we are left to wonder where their lands went to, for all we are told is 'the common lands have been left to the higher profit of those in receipt'. Thus, inevitably, things went seriously wrong in this area as the sixteenth century wore on (made worse by the ruination of land and houses caused in the context of the Eighty Years War) (85) and, by 1575, the 'Punt van Reide' had even become an island cut away from the shore. (86) Indeed, the Klei-Oldambt area of the Dollard in the sixteenth century had a serious contraction of arable cultivation. (87) The sixteenth-century response to the floods of 1509, then, was a story of oscillation between attempted land gain and unpreventable land loss. (88)

In theory, it seems that Dollard colonists could claim land in their new places of residence and could re-colonise the wastes through jurisdictional access to recht van opstrek. Some of the later hamlets in the Dollard such as Noordbroekster Hamrik were partly formed through this process. (89) Furthermore, in other nearby parts of the coastal region in Northern Germany, local farmer-led colonisation did expand in the sixteenth century. (90) In practice, in the Dollard, however, it must be made clear that smallholding farmers were in simply too poor a state to do this of their own accord--at least not on a large scale. What the recht van opstrek did do though, was provide an incentive and rationale for new urban investment in the Dollard from the city of Groningen, which had grown to roughly 18,000 inhabitants by 1522. (91) On the surface, the Dollard was in such an impoverished condition by the early sixteenth century that any urban investment seems illogical. The follow-up floods, which occurred throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, are testament to this vulnerability, not to mention the incessant threat of malaria. (92) One good example is the case of Ulsda, a sandy ridge raised out of the peat on the eastern edge of the Dollard that managed to be spared from total destruction of the 1509 floods. (93) The city of Groningen had bought from local farmers well over fifty per cent of the land at Ulsda by 1563, and yet when a city delegate came to check on the area in 1602, all he was able to report was two surviving 'impoverished' tenants. (94) But the point to make here is that the Groningen administration only reaped the benefits of their investment over the long term: the city inherited all the rechten van opstrek as well as the poor quality land, (95) and thus found itself freely able to impolder large tracts of surrounding waste further down the line. (96)

Thus, everywhere in the Dollard new land came to be reclaimed; a map from 1699 shows the extent of this process through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at Midwolda, Oostwold and Oostwolder Hamrik. (97) On these very same polders, significant portions of land were sold to officials from the city from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century charters. (98) Urban institutions and wealthy burgers also had their eyes set on the potentially lucrative profits to be made from peat extraction in the Dollard and so, for example, in 1608, the city bought over 100 hectares of peat land from farmers in Zuidbroek and between 1614 and 1628 bought more hectares in nearby Foxhol, Kropswolde, Kolham and Slochteren, thus eventually owning rights to a stretch of fenland running all the way from the border of Drenthe to Groningen province. (99) New boundaries were drawn up between peat lands owned by local farmers and those by city-based institutions. (100)

Another reason for the incursion of urban capital into the land market of the Dollard after the floods of the early sixteenth century was that this aided the subjection of (what was now called) the Oldambt region to political jurisdictional control. Urban involvement in that key dike of 1454 in the Dollard really set a precedent for the future because, from the transition to the early modern period, Groningen consistently tried to invoke jurisdictional rule over the Oldambt through a number of 'quasi-seigneurial' rights--actually based on a perceived territorial dominion inherited from the Middle Ages. (101) That is not to say that the farmers of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dollard merely passively accepted the intrusion of Groningen investment and legislation after the floods--far from it. A declaration of sovereignty in 1619 was firmly rejected in the Oldambt--unlike nearby Westerwolde to the south. (102) To counter demands from the city, the remaining Dollard farmers looked to medieval precedents of autonomy to assert their claims of freedom from urban control. (103) Already in the Middle Ages, the village communities stood strongly against what was considered 'arbitrary' behaviour in water management from both monasteries and city officials of Groningen. (104)

As a result, the troublesome Dollard region was also able to avoid onerous economic monopolies such as the stapelrecht, stipulating that farmers of the rural hinterlands had to bring their produce to Groningen first, before it could be distributed out. (105) Before the flood of 1509, Oldambt farmers had rarely used the Groningen market for trade, instead looking east towards Emden and other towns of Northwest Germany. For example, Grijzemonniken monastery shipped roughly 150 quarters of barley to the Westfalen in exchange for wheat in 1493, while timber came in other direction from Emden. (106) Remaining farmers also complained bitterly about urban involvement and investment in water management and dike building after the 1509 flood. New canals bisecting the Dollard region to connect Groningen with the Westfalen were stubbornly protested against, (107) while complaints were made about urban-financed dikes draining fenlands south of the Oldambt, but ending up creating water pressure on an over-burdened system, leaving farmers at Zuidbroek with flooded lands. (108)

Farmers of the Dollard region could not hold back the tide of urban pressure indefinitely, however. During the seventeenth century, the pressurised village communities lost their 'protective shield' as a wider political balance began to shift against their interests. The States General began to side with the city of Groningen, which had switched bias to the cities upon the realisation that urban settlements offered security and wealth-creation opportunities which were vital for the maintenance of the Republic. (109) The Oldambt also lost support from the Ommelanden as rural nobles wearied of sharing political participation in the diet with a group of common farmers. (110) What let the Oldambt farmers down was a lack of actual documentation to prove their autonomy from urban authority--and of course these original manuscripts had been transferred to the city muniments for storage before the floods. (111) Ultimately the continual transfer of land out of the hands of rural peasant farmers with strong local political powers into the hands of urban burghers and institutions weakened the Dollard region's independent and autonomous status--eventually leaving it open to urban jurisdictional subjugation. Thus, in the Dollard region, the terrible shock of the 1509 floods left smallholding colonists more vulnerable to conceding their land to urban investors; investors who were interested in this land, despite its vulnerable state and general conditions of impoverishment, because of the long-term gains that could be had from the jurisdictional rights to the unreclaimed wastes, but also through political advantages.

Thus, by the time of the verponding in 1721 (province-wide fiscal register of property), urban social groups had been able to secure around 44 per cent of the land within the Dollard region (see Table 1). Just a third of the land was owned by non-noble locals (i.e. farmers or labourers) and the proportion who farmed the soil they owned was even lower at 29 per cent because some property was owned by rural-dwelling rentier widows. By 1721 then, 71 per cent of land in the Dollard was used by people who were not owners. It would, of course, be instructive to get a quantitative figure for urban property ownership even earlier in the seventeenth century, but the two other verpondingen for the Oldambt in 1630 and 1660 do not explicitly separate users from owners--at least not systematically. (112) As seen from Table 2, the 44 per cent of urban control over land ownership in the Dollard area of Groningen was comparatively high for the early modern Low Countries, with only a few coastal regions (in much more heavily urbanised areas than Groningen, it must be added) able to exceed this figure.


The flood of 1509 that hit the Dollard region left many smallholders unable to cope, and set in motion a process of urban accumulation of land and jurisdictions over wastes. Despite stubborn resistance, this was translated over the course of the seventeenth century into wider jurisdictional and economic domination of the region by the city of Groningen. Going back to the central issue of the paper, however, did this process necessarily have a redistributive effect on property in the Dollard region? Was the flood of 1509 the first disruptive shock that pushed the region on a path from small-scale peasant farming to large-scale agrarian capitalism for example? These are significant questions because we do know that the nineteenth-century Oldambt region came to be one of the most inequitable in the whole of the Low Countries, (118) coming to a climax in the early twentieth century with strong political antagonism and agricultural labourer strikes. (119)

While, for the social distribution of property at the owner level, we can only use the 1721 copies of the verpondingen, the distribution of property at the user level for the Dollard region can be reconstructed systematically much earlier in time with copies from 1630 and 1660. As we have seen in Table 1 above, by 1721 the Oldambt was a place where land had significantly fallen into the hands of urban investors--much of which was made easier after the shock of the floods in 1509. Nearly three-quarters of all land was worked by people who did not own it. However, despite this trend, the property distribution at the user level--those that actually farmed it--seems to have remained quite equitable (in a relative sense). As Peter Hoppenbrouwers has shown, c. 1660, in around three-quarters of the Dollard parishes, more than half of the surface area was used by smallholders with less than six hectares each. (120) Yet this view of the Dollard area as being entirely dominated by smallholders may have been exaggerated by only calculating total farm sizes on a parish-by-parish basis. In other words, many farmers may have had larger farms built up through holding land across parish boundaries.

So, in fact, from my consolidated database on a regional level (for places and sources used see fn. 121), farmers with less than six hectares used just over ten per cent of the Dollard land. Notwithstanding this over-exaggeration, however, Hoppenbrouwers was certainly correct in pointing out a general trend towards smallholders and tenants in the seventeenth-century Oldambt. In fact, in the years for which we have the fiscal registers, 1630 and 1660, the Gini coefficient was 0.54 and 0.58 respectively. (121) In 1630 there was just one farm with more than 100 hectares and no farms at all over 200 hectares, and this was confirmed by the records from 1660--just three farms over 100 hectares and still none over 200 hectares (Figure 3). Furthermore, Figure 4 shows that in 1630 large farms (of more than fifty hectares) made up only around one-fifth of the total surface area in the Oldambt. In fact, it was not until the late eighteenth- and nineteenth centuries that the classic polarisation of farmer and labourer would emerge in the Dollard region, as demonstrated by a Gini coefficient of 0.83 for property distribution in 1832 from cadastral surveys. (122) By this time 57 per cent of the surface area of the Oldambt belonged to large farms over fifty hectares.

Fragments of information closer to the events of 1509 similarly corroborate a low level of early land consolidation and inequality, where a Gini coefficient of 0.54 can be calculated for all the landholders in the parishes that form the Termunten Zijlvest (waterboard) of 1520; although this is not directly comparable to data taken from the early seventeenth-century verpondingen as this seems to combine landowners and land-users (not making a clear distinction between the two), even if many were one and the same thing. (123) Similarly, on a more micro-level, in the parish of Midwolda in 1555, the Gini coefficient of all land-users (and this 'jaartax' does explicitly

separate landowners and land-users) came to just 0.5 (though we must recognise that parish-by-parish reconstructions of land distribution produce lower Gini coefficients, since many large landowners may have a significant scattering of property over different parish boundaries, but just a small amount of land within any given parish). (124) Another chance survival from Midwolda of an even earlier jaartax from 1540 also indicates a fairly egalitarian distribution of property with a Gini coefficient of just 0.48. (125)

Of course the redistributive effect of the floods in 1509 is still not so easy to assess, given that we have very limited scope for property reconstruction of the Dollard region for stages of the Middle Ages--source material is scarce. (126) The same sort of medieval reconstruction of landownership as conducted by Paul Noomen for nearby Fivelingo cannot be attempted. (127) Most of the medieval property distribution data comes from other parts of Groningen province such as the list of 'grastallen' from the Harbaringebuurschap in Oosterstadskamrik in 1455 or the 'dijkrol' from 1490 in Eenrum, Pieterburen and Westernieland mentioning some the oldest landowners from the first half of the fifteenth century. (128) We have just scraps of evidence for areas very close to the Oldambt before the sixteenth century such as, for example, a list of property owners at Kolham, Slochteren Hamrik and Scharmster Hamrik, taken from a schotlijst in 1470. (129) In this parish, the distribution of property was similarly equitable in its distribution, recording a Gini coefficient of 0.5, although, as mentioned above, this source did not explicitly separate landowners and users.

However, the argument that the floods impacted upon the social distribution of landownership (allowing for more absentee urban landowners), while having a minimal effect on long-term inequality at the user level of landholding can still be sustained on two grounds. The first is that the Gini coefficients of 0.54 and 0.58 for the years 1630 and 1660 were highly equitable in a comparative sense, when placed against property distributions of other rural societies in Western Europe between the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century. It is very difficult to find many Gini coefficients below 0.5 for distribution of property or wealth, (130) as can be seen from the comparative table below. These regions have been selected simply on the basis that a Gini coefficient has been calculated for them--much more comparative research could be done on the distribution of property in rural areas across Western Europe, and most Gini coefficients at the moment either relate to wealth distribution in cities or income distribution.

Of course we should note that, in this figure, we are not taking into account common lands, which could partially compensate for these inequalities but, then again, it has been shown more recently that common property too could be quite exclusive and restricted to certain (sometimes more privileged) groups of society--the 'equitability effect' of the commons was not inevitable. (131) The point made here, though, is that if the Gini coefficient was 0.54 in 1630 for the Dollard region, a comparatively equitable figure, then either the Dollard must have exhibited extremely egalitarian tendencies before the floods, with an exceptionally low Gini coefficient, or the floods did not have much impact on property distribution at the user level at all--at least not at the long-term structural level.

The second point to support the argument for the lack of 'inequitable effect' of the early sixteenth-century floods in the Dollard is that if the floods really did produce a level of polarisation in the distribution of property, then surely we would see higher Gini coefficients in 1630 in the Dollard than in areas of the Groningen clay-lands that were unaffected by the floods--particularly if we compare those areas such as Hunsingo and Fivelingo which, like the Oldambt, were on the coast with similar soils and environmental conditions. Using a similar strategy, Van Cruyningen has already shown for seventeenth-century Zeeland that polder areas that were re-embanked after flooding tended to be more inequitable than those not affected by the floods. (133) Yet the same trends are not demonstrated in the figures. In fact, the distribution of landed property in both Hunsingo and Fivelingo was more inequitable than in the Dollard area in 1630--a Gini coefficient of 0.59 in both compared to 0.54 in the Dollard. Indeed, as Figure 5 shows, Fivelingo had much more than twice the number of landholders working farms of greater than 25 hectares compared to the Dollard, and for Hunsingo it was 2.5 times as many. While little more than a third of land in the Dollard comprised farms over 25 hectares, as seen in Figure 6, in Fivelingo and Hunsingo this was roughly two-thirds of the total land. If the early sixteenth-century floods in the Dollard did have any kind of inequitable impact on the distribution of property, these effects do not appear to have been lasting or long term.

On the surface this seems quite puzzling. There is clear evidence for the disastrous impact of the floods, evidence for abandonment and forced sale of land by smallholding farmers, and evidence that powerful absentee groups such as urban citizens and institutions profited from this situation--so much so that, by 1721, a large proportion of the land in the Dollard was owned by outsiders or non-farmers. Why then do we have the curious lack of inequality at the local level at which the land was being farmed? How can this be explained? The flooding of the Dollard in 1509, together with the continually unstable environment across much of the sixteenth century, ultimately made it difficult for local smallholders to continue to farm their lands. Many abandoned their property and sold to urban investors from Groningen.

However, the reason why property did not become consolidated into large holdings across the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries may be found in the precise arrangement of property rights that came to be established more firmly in the Dollard from the sixteenth century onwards. Urban institutions and burghers had no incentive during the sixteenth century (environmental instability) and seventeenth century (critical lows in prices for agricultural products) to farm the lands they had purchased for themselves, and thus began to offer this land back out to local farmers on long-term lease contracts known as beklemrecht. Urban landowners also did this in order to receive a substantial entrance fee into the property from the tenant, which was often around three times the annual rent. (134) Furthermore, the bestowal of very strong property rights to tenants meant that the burden of water management (in terms of capital and labour investment) did not fall solely on the owner--important given the precarious state of the Dollard during the sixteenth century. Thus, although smallholding farmers had become dispossessed through changing economic and environmental conditions after the floods, and this corroborates what has been suggested about the decreasing influence of 'eigenerfde' farmers owning their own pieces of land, (135) no structural change in the distribution of the property at the user level had taken place--at least not to any kind of extreme.

The floods ultimately were one of the sparks that forced the wide dissemination of beklemrecht in the Dollard area, and it was the precise functioning of this contract into the seventeenth century that helped maintain high levels of equality over the long term. Of course, beklemrecht also came to be disseminated throughout other parts of Groningen province, but this was a much slower process and less intense than that manifested in the first instance in the Dollard area. The beklemrecht contract preserved the integrity of the original individual landholdings, which acted against any kind of fragmentation and splitting up of the pieces for the next of kin. (136) Ultimately, this kind of property right rendered any precise traditions of partible or inpartible inheritance redundant. (137) Thus, this acted against the first facet of inequitable distribution of property--that is the incessant morsellation of landholdings into tiny pieces. In fact, as shown for later periods in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this posed a problem for would-be inheritors as many children were left with no access to the family estate, and ultimately experienced downward social mobility--drifting towards towns or even working as labourers on other farms. (138)

The preservation of the integrity of the holding also acted against a second facet of inequitable distribution of property--that is, the move towards land consolidation and accumulation by those with resources--since it also proved to be a barrier towards the emergence of a fluid and flexible land market. With such a large amount of land under this kind of fixed long-term lease, the amount of land that could be easily transferred between parties was highly restricted. Sub-leasing, furthermore, was essentially impossible. This was fixed further in place by the fact that land leasing through beklemrecht was 'in perpetuum' and hereditary: once crystallised it was difficult to shift. In any case, the fact that tenants had the right to build their own houses on the leased land (but paid for by the landlord) created a situation whereby neither party wanted to relinquish the terms of their agreement. (139) If the tenant broke the contract, he would lose his house, and if the owner broke the contract, he would lose his large investment in the property. Finally, the rate of rent payable by the tenant was fixed--the owner could not arbitrarily raise it over time. In the eighteenth century, this became the very means by which large farmers could emerge--benefitting from the low real rents in comparison to grain prices that trebled in real terms between 1700 and 1800, (140) and thus having great surpluses to reinvest in building large consolidated farms. (141) In the seventeenth century though there were no such favourable incentives for the small tenant farmers working beklemrecht contracts, given the strong contraction in prices for agricultural products; (142) and, in fact, the fixed rents only helped establish a situation whereby there was no pressing need to innovate or invest in more 'efficient' agricultural techniques.


Ultimately the floods were the exogenous shock that helped increase smallholder dispossession in the sixteenth-century Dollard region, but they also inadvertently stimulated the proliferation of a form of property structure that not only 'gave back' this land indirectly to local farmers, but crystallised smallholder modes of exploitation over the long term. Ultimately it could be said that this proved a barrier to any kind of early emergence of agrarian capitalism as seen elsewhere in the North Sea coastal area such as Coastal Flanders. (143) Only very strong demographic and economic changes in the second half of the eighteenth century were able to destabilise this system. In that sense, this paper supports recent suggestions that ownership of rural land by absentee urban groups cannot in itself or on its own be the cause of increased inequality in the distribution of property being farmed. In fact, this could only happen in combination with being embedded within very particular contexts for rural property structure. (144) The classic 'Brennerian' explanation for the emergence of agrarian capitalism in Western Europe lies in the capacity for elite groups such as lords and the urban oligarchy to retain control over the means of production--the long-term stagnation of the French economy compared to the English was put down to the French peasantry's greater success at keeping hold of their land. (145) It has now become quite a cliche to 'try to prove Brenner wrong', frequently by scholars showing that the path towards agrarian capitalism and large commercialised farms could also take a 'peasant route', via engrossment and consolidation from below. (146) This paper offers an alternative twist on the Brenner interpretation by taking neither of these views: suggesting outright that increased absentee consolidation of land from elite urban groups could at times pose a direct hindrance and block for the emergence of agrarian capitalism--as suggested for some of the city-states across Northern and Central Italy in the transition to the early modern period. (147) In the case of the Dollard after the floods, urban groups that consolidated land crystallised a mode of exploitation that offered no contribution to innovation or modernisation of agriculture from above. At the same time, it posed an active block to internal social stratification among smallholding farmers by rigidly retarding their own capacity to transfer land.


The author benefited from insightful comments from participants in the workshop in Minister in November 2014 (The Impact of Disasters on Pre-Modern Rural Economies), and the workshop in The Hague in March 2015 (Evolutions and Revolutions in Water Management). The revision of the article has been aided by the expert advice of Phil Slavin (University of Kent). Daniel R. Curtis is currently employed on an ERC-funded project led by Prof. Bas van Bavel (Utrecht University) entitled 'Coordinating for Life: Success and Failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800'(grant no. 339647), and begins work on his own NWO-funded VENI project 'Why Do Some Epidemics Lead to Hatred?' in 2016 (grant no. 275-53-014.

Department of History Utrecht University 3512 BS UTRECHT, The Netherlands


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(33.) P. Vos and E. Knol, 'De ontstaansgeschiedenis van het Dollardlandschap; natuurlijke en antropogene processen', in K. Essink (ed.), Stormvloed 1509--geschiedenis van de Dollard (Groningen: Stichting Verdronken Geschiedenis, 2013), pp. 31-43.

(34.) M. Bierma, A. Clason, E. Kramer and G. de Langen (eds), Terpen en wierden in het Fries-Groningse kustgebied (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff/Forsten, 1988).

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(38.) All described in G. Tromp, Groninger kloosters (Assen: Groninger Historische Reeks, 1989), pp. 34-8, 57-9, 74-5.

(39.) O. Knottnerus, 'Reclamations and submerged lands in the Ems River estuary (900-1500)', in Thoen et al (eds), Landscapes or Seascapes?, p. 257.

(40.) E. Strahl, 'Reiderland', Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde 24 (2003): 357; H. Jongbloed, 'Wanburtich: Heinrichs II. Beteiligung an der Wahl von Kamba (1024)', Deutsches Archiv fur die Erforschung des Mittelalters 62 (2006): 46.

(41.) W. Ligtendag, De Wolden en het water: de landschaps- en de waterstaatsontwikkeling in het lage landen ten oosten van de stad Groningen vanaf de volle middeleeuwen tot ca. 1870 (Groningen: Stichting Historisch Onderzoek en Beleid, 1995).

(42.) Knottnerus, 'Reclamations', p. 258.

(43.) H. Groenendijk and W. Schwarz, 'Mittelalterliche Besiedlung der Moore im Einflussbereich des Dollarts', Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Nordwestdeutschland 14 (1991): 39-68.

(44.) H. van Lengen, 'Tota Frisia: sieben Seelande und mehr. Die territoriale Gliederung des freien Frieslands im Mittelalter: ein Uberblick mit einer Karte', in H. van Lengen, R. Driever and W. Kuppers (eds), Die Friesische Freiheit des Mittelalters: Leben und Legende (Aurich: Ostfriesische Landschaft, 2003), pp. 67-70.

(45.) J. Molema, 'Verdwenen kerken van veenontginningsnederzettingen', Groninger Kerken 28 (2011): 12-5.

(46.) H. Jansen and A. Jansen (eds), Kroniek van het klooster Bloemhof te Wittewierum (Hilversum: Verloren, 1991), pp. 376-7.

(47.) W. Casparie and J. Molema, 'Het middeleeuwse veenontginningslandschap bij Scheemda', Palaeohistoria 22 (1990): 271-89; E. Knol, 'Het verleden van kwelders, wierden en dijken; werk voor natuurwetenschappers', in G. Borger, P. Breuker and H. de Jong (eds), Van Groningen tot Zeeland. Geschiedenis van het cultuurhistorisch onderzoek naar het kustlandschap (Hilversum: Verloren, 2010), pp. 11-27, 65-8, 145-9.

(48.) H. Groenendijk and R. Barenfanger, Gelaagd landschap; veenkolonisten en kleiboeren in het Dollardgebied (Bedum: Profiel, 2008), pp. 38-9.

(49.) A. Rinzema, 'Een burger vertelt: de kroniek van Johan van Lemego', in B. Ebels-Hoving, C. Santing and C. Tilmans (eds), Genoechlicke ende lustige historien: laatmiddeleeuwse geschiedschrijving in Nederland (Hilversum: Verloren, 1987), p. 71.

(50.) G. Stratingh and G. Venema, De Dollard of geschied-, aardrijks-, en natuur-kundige beschrijving van dezen boezem der Eems (Groningen: J. Oomkens, J. Zoon & R.J. Schierbeek, 1855), pp. 316-21.

(51.) O. Knottnerus, 'Verdwenen dorpen', Groninger Kerken 28 (2011): 3.

(52.) G. Mohlmann (ed.), Ostfriesisches Urkundenbuch. Dritter Band: Erganzende Regesten und Urkunden zu Band I und II (Aurich 1975), no. 359.

(53.) O. Knottnerus, 'Dollardgeschiedenis(sen)--mythe en realiteit', in Essink (ed.), Stormvloed 1509, pp. 95-116.

(54.) Gottschalk (ed.), Stormvloeden, I, 49, 269-71, 485; II, 40-1.

(55.) K-E. Behre, 'Die Veranderungen der niedersachsischen Kustenlinien in den letzten 3000 Jahren und deren Ursachen', Probleme der Kustenforschung im sudlichen Nordseegebiet 26 (1999): 9-34; H. Homeier, 'Einbruch und weitere Entwicklung des Dollart bis um 1600', Forschungsstelle fur Insel- und Kustenschutz der Niedersachsischen Wasserwirtschaftsverwaltung, Jahresbericht 28 (1976): 39-81.

(56.) Knottnerus, 'Verdwenen dorpen', p. 5; citing also Tromp, Groninger kloosters, pp. 91-3.

(57.) Groninger Archieven, Losse stukken register Feith, meest charters, 1246-1864, 2241, no. 48.

(58.) A. Oost, Dynamics and Sedimentary Development of the Dutch Wadden Sea, with Emphasis on the Frisian Inlet. A Study of the Barrier Islands, Ebb-tidal Deltas, Inlets, and Drainage Basins (Utrecht 1995), pp. 213-4.

(59.) H. Uytterschaut, 'The human skeletons from the late-medieval graveyard of Scheemda', Palaeohistoria 32 (1990), pp. 323-30; H. Groenendijk and J. Molema, 'Het "Ol Kerkhof van Scheemda: een kerk onder klei', Noorderbreedte 13 (1989): 9; J. Molema, 'Het "Ol Kerkhof te Scheemda (Gr.); tussentijds verslag van een opgraving', Paleoaktueel 1 (1989): 107-11; 'De opgravingen op het kerkhof van het verdronken dorp Scheemda', Palaeohistoria 32 (1990): 247-70; W. Prummel, 'Draught horses and other animals at late-medieval Scheemda', Palaeohistoria 32 (1990): 299-314.

(60.) J. Molema, 'Kerken in de voormalige Dollardboezem (Gr.)', Paleoaktueel 2 (1991): 123-6; 'Een steenhuis te Midwolde (Oldambt, Gr.)', Paleoaktueel 6 (1995): 129-32; 'Meeden in de Middeleeuwen', in Boerderijen 'Wold-Oldambt', II (1997), pp. 221-7; R. Barenfanger and H. Groenendijk, 'Versunkene Siedlungen am Dollart', Archaologie in Niedersachsen 2 (1999): 116-9.

(61.) H. Halbertsma, 'Sporen van verdronken dorpen en verlaten Cistercienzer kloosters, Dollardgebieden (Groningen)', Berichten van de Rijksdienst voor het Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek 3 (1952): 18-20; 'Het vergeten klooster te Dallingeweer', Bulletin van de Historische Kring 'De Marne' 6 (1979): 81-6.

(62.) R. Georgius and L. de Smet (eds), Honderd jaar Landbouwvereniging 'Nieuwolda-Nieuw-Scheemda' (1860-1960), I (Nieuwolda: L.A.H. de Smet, 1960), pp. 34-7.

(63.) Knottnerus, 'Verdwenen dorpen', p. 8; Stratingh and Venema, De Dollard, pp. 327-8.

(64.) M. Duijvendak, 'Storm watching: de invloed van de Cosmas en Damianus stromvloed 500 jaar later', in Essink (ed.), Stormvloed 1509, p. 153.

(65.) Knottnerus, 'Alle verdronken Dollarddorpen',

(66.) Find a copy of this register in Stratingh and Venema, De Dollard, pp. 313-5.

(67.) GA, Losse stukken register Feith, meest charters, 1246-1864, 221, no. 433.

(68.) J. de Cock, 'Ontginningsgeschiedenis van de gemeente Slochteren', Groningse Volksalmanak 67 (1967): 162-85.

(69.) H. van der Linden, De cope: bijdrage tot de rechtsgeschiedenis van de openlegging der Hollands-Utrechtse laagvlakte (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1956).

(70.) As suggested in F. Ketelaar, Oude zakelijke rechten vroeger, nu en in de toekomst (Leiden: Universitaire Pers Leiden, 1978), pp. 250-61; H. Keuning, De Groninger Veenkolonien: een sociaal-geografische studie (Amsterdam: H.J. Paris, 1933), pp. 37-8.

(71.) F. Ketelaar, Inventaris van het archief van de Maatschappij tot exploitatie van het onverdeelde Munnikeveen (1583), 1782-1973 (Groningen: Rijksarchief Groningen, 1988).

(72.) S. Zijlstra, Om de ware gemeente en de oude gronden. Geschiedenis van de dopersen in de Nederlanden 1531-1675 (Hilversum: Verloren, 2000), p. 463; S. Abels, Doopsgezinde families in het Oldambt (1520-1811) (Eexterzandvoort: Sebo H. Abels, 2002), p. 51.

(73.) P. Hoppenbrouwers, 'Grondgebruik en agrarische bedrijfsstructuur in het Oldambt na de vroegste impolderingen (1630--ca. 1720)', in J. Elerie and P. Hoppenbrouwers (eds), Het Oldambt, vol 2. Nieuwe visies op geschiedenis en actuele problemen (Groningen: Historia Agriculturae, 1991), pp. 73-94.

(74.) Document found in Stratingh and Venema, De Dollard, pp. 330-1.

(75.) Ibid., p. 85.

(76.) H. Boer, Geschiedenis van het waterschap Oldambt (Appingedam, 1999), p. 25.

(77.) A. Vermue, 'Noordbroek: een interdisciplinaire onderzoek naar de vorming en ingebruikname van de kleilanden in de 15e en 16e eeuw' (unpub. MA thesis, University of Groningen, 2012), p. 57.

(78.) W. Bergsma, De wereld volgens Abel Eppens: een ommelander boer uit de zestiende eeuw (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff 1988).

(79.) As seen in other coastal regions of the Low Countries; Soens, De spade in de dijk?

(80.) Vermue, 'Noordbroek', p. 92.

(81.) R. Alma, 'Landeigenaars in Termuntenzijlvest (ca. 1520)', Gruoninga 43 (1998): 177-80.

(82.) GA, Archief van het Stadsbestuur van Groningen voor de Reductie, 1247-1594, no. 1381.1.37, fos. 126-7.

(83.) GA, Archief van het Stadsbestuur van Groningen voor de Reductie, 1247-1594, no. 1381.1, fo. 98r.

(84.) GA, Archief van het Stadsbestuur van Groningen voor de Reductie, 1247-1594, no. 1381.1, fo. 98v.

(85.) L. Adriaenssen and M. 't Hart, 'Farming communities at risk. War and economic structures in the Netherlands; some evidence from the Meierij and Westerwolde, c. 1550-1700' (unpub. paper, University of Amsterdam, 2005).

(86.) E. Knol, 'Nooit verdwenen Dollardland', in Essink (ed.), Stormvloed 1509, p. 122.

(87.) R. van Schaik, 'Omvang en kwaliteit van het cultuurareeal in Groningerland tijdens de 16de en 17de eeuw', Historisch-Geografisch Tijdschrift 2 (1984): 12-18.

(88.) As noted in Groenendijk and Barenfanger, Gelaagd landschap.

(89.) O. Hofstee, Het Oldambt, een sociografie, deel 1: vormende krachten (Groningen 1990 [1937]), p. 161; S. Abels and D. Kuiken (eds), Oldambster warfsminuten 1563-1592 (Groningen: Maggelboeck, 1996), p. 36.

(90.) K. Brandt, 'Die mittelalterliche Siedlungentwicklung in der Marsch von Butjadingen (Landkreis Wesermarsch). Ergebnisse archaologischer Untersuchungen', Siedlungforschung 2 (1984): 123-46; J. Ey, 'Late-medieval and early-modern reclamation: the role of the state and of village communities. A case study of the North-Western Weser marshes under the counts of Oldenburg', in H-J. Nitz (ed.), The Medieval and Early Modern Rural Landscape of Europe Under the Impact of the Commercial Economy (Gottingen: Universitat, 1987), pp. 214-15.

(91.) A. Prins, Groningen: middeleeuwse Hanzestad vanaf de waterkant (Groningen: E. Forsten, 1994), p. 21.

(92.) H. Antonides, Noord- en Zuidbroek in vroegere jaren (Noordbroek: De Bruin, 1973), pp.

36-7; T. Ufkes, 'De kerstvloed van 1717: oorzaken en gevolgen van een natuurramp' (unpub, Ph.D. thesis, University of Groningen, 1994), pp. 117-20; O. Knotttnerus, 'Malaria around the North Sea: a survey', in G. Wefer, W. Berger, K-E Behre and E. Jansen (eds), Climatic Development and History of the North Atlantic Realm: Hanse Conference Report (Berlin: Springer, 2002), pp. 339-53.

(93.) M. Schroor, De atlas der stadslanden van Groningen (1724-29) (Groningen 1997), pp. 30-1.

(94.) A. Smith, 'Het eiland Ulsda', Groningsche Volksalmanak (1901): 208-11.

(95.) GA, Archief van het stadsbestuur van Groningen en onderhorige jurisdicties, 1246-1594', no. 7.23.

(96.) The urban-financed reclamations around Ulsda can be clearly seen in a map from 1690; GA, Kaartenverzameling, no. 990.

(97.) GA, Kaartenverzameling, no. 991.

(98.) GA, Losse stukken register Feith, meest charters, 1246-1864, 2241, nos. 353, 371, 456, 467, 499, 535, 668, 766, 776, 854, 880, 903, 909, 936-7, 944, 957, 1017, 1019-20, 1029.

(99.) GA, Losse stukken register Feith, meest charters, 1246-1864, 2241, no. 307; A. de Blecourt, Het stadsmeierrecht in de Groninger Veenkolonien, I (Groningen: Thieme, 1907), p. v; GA, Archief Veenkantoor, no. 384. Also H. Hurenkamp, 'Groningen van stadsstaat tot stad van het noorden', in P. Kooij and G. Collenteur (eds.), Stad en regio (Assen: Van Gorcum, 2010), p. 45.

(100.) GA, Losse stukken register Feith, meest charters, 1246-1864, 2241, nos. 582, 1151.

(101.) On this medieval territorial formalisation, see P. Noomen, 'Koningsgoed in Groningen. Het domaniale verleden van de stad', in J. Boersma, J. van den Broek and G. Offerman (eds), Groningen 1040: archeologie en oudste geschiedenis van de stad Groningen (Bedum: Profiel, 1990), pp. 97-144.

(102.) Adriaenssen and 't Hart, 'Farming communities at risk', p. 18.

(103.) C. Dijkstra, 'De Oldambten tegen de stad--een vruchteloze strijd', Groningse Volksalmanak (1974/5): 56-8.

(104.) S. Fockema Andreae, Studien over waterschapsgeschidenis, deel VI; Oosterlijk Groningen (Leiden 1950), pp. 42-3.

(105.) J. van den Broek, 'Graven bij Stootshorn: de verbinding tussen Groningen en het Oldambt gedurende de oorlogsjaren 1580-1594', in Kooij and Collenteur (eds), Stad en regio, p. 100.

(106.) E. Friedlander (ed.), Ostfriesisches Urkundenbuch, II (Emden 1881), no. 112; GA, Stadsarchief tot 1594, no. 732, fos. 289-312.

(107.) M. Schroor and O. Knottnerus, 'De opstand 1568-1594', in M. Duijvendak and H. Feenstra (eds), Geschiedenis van Groningen, II (Zwolle 2008), pp. 136-7.

(108.) M. 't Hart, 'Rulers and repertoires: the revolt of a farmers' republic in the early modern Netherlands', in M. Hanagan, L. Page Morsch and W. te Brake (eds), Challenging Authority: the Historical Study of Contentious Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), p. 202.

(109.) M. 't Hart, The Making of a Bourgeois State: War, Politics, and Finance during the Dutch Revolt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993); 'Intercity rivalries and the making of the Dutch state', in C. Tilly and W. Blockmans (eds), Cities and the Rise of States in Europe, A.D. 1000 to 1800 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 196-217.

(110.) A. de Blecourt, Oldambt en de Ommelanden: rechtshistorische opstellen met bijlagen (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1935), p. 119.

(111.) 't Hart, 'Rulers and repertoires', p. 207.

(112.) R. Paping, 'De Groningse verpondingsregisters', Broncommentaren 4 (1985): 331.

(113.) Not including common lands, which could be extensive in some regions such as the Campine and Drenthe.

(114.) Not totalling 100% because of the absence of 'state' lands.

(115.) 10% of land unknown.

(116.) Not totalling 100% because of the absence of 'province' land--social distribution of land ownership quite specific to Groningen.

(117.) Not totalling 100% because of the absence of 'province' and 'Ommelanden' land--social distribution of land ownership quite specific to Groningen.

(118.) Curtis, 'The impact of land accumulation'.

(119.) See O. Knottnerus, 'Boeren en landarbeiders in het Oldambt: de landarbeidersstaking van 1929 en haar voorgeschiedenis', <>.

(120.) Hoppenbrouwers, 'Grondgebruik', p. 80.

(121.) Reconstructed from sources found in GA, Archief Staten van Stad en Landen, nos. 2133, 2139-41, 2143. For the Oldambt in 1630 this included the parishes of Termunten, Grote Munte, Midwolda Hamrik, Oostwolder Hamrik, Noordbroek, Lalleweer, Scheemder Hamrik, Scheemda, Wagenborgen, Zuidbroek, Meeden, Heigerlee, Oostwold, Finsterwolde, Grisemonniken, Borgsweer, Eexta, Grijsevrouwen, Midwolda, Lutke Termunten, Woldendorp, Westerlee, and Winschoten. For 1660 this included Noorbroekster Hamrik, Noordbroek, Lesterhuis, Grisemonniken, Borgsweer, Lalleweer, Lukte Termunten, Grote Munte, Woldendorpen, Wagenborgen, Oostwolder Hamrik, Beerta, Oostwold, Finsterwolde, Heigerlee, Scheemda, Midwolda Hamrik, Westerlee, Midwolda, Scheemder Hamrik, Zuidbroek and Eexta. In a previous publication, Gini coefficients of 0.54 and 0.56 were calculated, but for fewer parishes: see Curtis, 'The impact of land accumulation'. According to the Gini coefficient, a figure of 1 represents total inequality (all resources consolidated in the hands of one individual) whereas a figure of 0 represents total equality (all resources divided equally between everyone).

(122.) Curtis, 'The impact of land accumulation'.

(123.) Calculated from the transcription in Alma, 'Landeigenaars in Termuntenzijlvest'.

(124.) Calculated from GA, Archief Staten van Stad en Landen, no. 706.

(125.) Calculated from R. Alma, 'Het schatregister voor de jaartax van 1540', Gruoninga 36 (1991): 58-89.

(126.) As lamented in O. Knottnerus, 'Het land kanaan aan de Noordzee: een vergeten hoofdstuk', in Elerie and Hoppenbrouwers (eds), Het Oldambt, pp. 25-71.

(127.) P. Noomen, 'Middeleeuwse bezitsverhoudingen in Noordoost-Fivelingo', in E. de Boer, L. Bos and O. Mulder-Steenbrink (eds), Het Bierumer Boerderijenboek. Een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van Noordoost-Fivelingo (Scheemda 1996), pp. 59-82.

(128.) GA, Hs., nos. 709-2, fo. 13b; Archief Noorderzijlvest Onderdendam, Archief Dijkrecht van Pieterburen, no. 18.

(129.) Calculated from R. Alma, 'Landeigenaren te Kolham (ca. 1470)', Gruoninga 52 (2007): 18-72.

(130.) Income distribution is a different case, and generally gives far lower Gini coefficients than for property and wealth in the pre-industrial period.

(131.) D. Curtis, 'Did the commons make medieval and early modern rural societies more equitable? A survey of evidence from across Western Europe, 1300-1800', Journal of Agrarian Change Early View (2015). DOI: 10.1111/joac.12101.

(132.) PD = property distribution; WD = wealth distribution; FV = fiscal value of property; DL = distribution of lease land; DT = distribution of tenant land.

(133.) Van Cruyningen, 'From disaster to sustainability', pp. 253-4.

(134.) The culture of long-term leasing was enhanced by the secularisation in 1594 of all monastic property, which passed into the hands of city and province institutions, and was leased out again on fixed perpetual terms; P. Priester, De economische ontwikkeling van de landbouw in Groningen, 1800-1910. Een kwalitatieve en kwantitatieve analyse (Wageningen: AAG Bijdragen, 1991), p. 110.

(135.) R. Paping, G. Schansker and E. Knol, 'Een verarmde weduwe als sleutel tot een netwerk van zestiende-eeuwse eigenerfden en kloostermeiers: parenteel Sywerts/Boelens/Knol', Gruoninga 55 (2010): 88.

(136.) W. Formsma, Beklemrecht en landbouw. Een agronomisch-historische studie over beklemrecht in Groningen, in vergelijking elders (Groningen: NAHI, 1981).

(137.) H. De Haan and P. Hoppenbrouwers, 'Intergenerational transfer of rural property in the Netherlands. Law, moral code and practice (16th-20th centuries)', Melanges de l'Ecole Francaise de Rome 110 (1998): 339-55.

(138.) R. Paping and E. Karel, 'The rural succession myth? Occupational careers and household formation of peasants' and farmers' offspring around 1800', Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 8 (2011): 44-75.

(139.) Priester, De economische ontwikkeling.

(140.) W. Tijms, Groninger graanprijzen. De prijzen van agrarische producten tussen 1546 en 1990 (Wageningen: NAHI, 2000).

(141.) Curtis, 'The impact of land accumulation'.

(142.) Again, see Tijms, Groninger graanprijzen; J. Faber, 'Graanhandel, graanprijzen en tarievenpolitiek in Nederland gedurende de tweede helft der zeventiende eeuw', Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 74 (1961): 534-9. Set within a context of a general European nadir in agricultural prices through much of the century; R. Allen, 'The Great Divergence in European wages and prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War', Explorations in Economic History 38 (2001): 411-47.

(143.) Soens, De spade in de dijk.

(144.) Van Cruyningen, 'From disaster to sustainability', p. 254.

(145.) Brenner, 'Agrarian class structure'; 'The agrarian roots of European capitalism', esp. pp. 102-3.

(146.) For literature see fn. 24.

(147.) B. van Bavel, 'Markets for land, labor and capital in Northern Italy and the Low Countries, twelfth to seventeenth centuries', Journal of Interdisciplinary History 41 (2011): 13-53; Curtis, 'Florence and its hinterlands'; S. Epstein, 'Cities, regions and the late medieval crisis: Sicily and Tuscany compared', Past and Present 130 (1991): 3-50; 'Town and country: economy and institutions in late medieval Italy', Economic History Review 46 (1993): 453-77; R. Emigh, The Undevelopment of Capitalism: Sectors and Markets in Fifteenth-century Tuscany (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009).

Table 1. Social distribution of landownership in the Dollard, 1721.

                               Land ownership (%)

Aristocratic / noble                   3
Ecclesiastical institutions           13
Lay / charitable institutions          1
Urban                                 44
Province                               7
Rural peasants / farmers              33
TOTAL                                100

Source: D. Curtis, 'The impact of land accumulation and consolidation
on population trends in the pre-industrial period: two contrasting
cases in the Low Countries', Historical Research 87 (2014): 194-228.

Table 2. Urban landownership in the Dollard in a comparative
perspective for the early modern Low Countries (%). (113)

Region                                     Year        Aristocratic

West-Kraaijert polders, Zeeland              1648           15
Zeelandic Flanders (114)                     1665            6
Uitslag van Putten, S. Holland (115)         1661            0
Holland (central)                          c.1620           10
Beijerland (oud & nieuw), S. Holland         1627           26
Dollard area, Groningen (116)                1721            3
Coastal Flanders                           c.1550          n/a
Tournaisis                                 c.1591           21
Antwerp hinterlands, Brabant               c.1570           14
Salland, Overijssel                          1520           32
Holland                                    c.1550           10
Land van Culembourg (east), Betuwe         c.1550           44
Ommelanden (clay areas), Groningen (117)     1755           12
Sleidinge, East Flanders                     1577            0
East Flanders                              c.1570           11
Land van Heusden, S. Holland               c.1550            9
Campine Liegoise                               18th C        4
Land van Culembourg (west), Betuwe         c.1550           15
Tielerwaard (Waal side), Betuwe            c.1550           29
Beauvaisis, Picardy                          1717           22
Fagne-Famenne Liegoise                         18th C       33
Hesbaye Liegoise                               18th C       18
West Flanders (polder area)               1569-78           19
West Flanders (sandy area)                   1699           22
Condroz Liegoise                               18th C       57
Land van Buren, Betuwe                     c.1550           37
Ambt Beesd & Rhenoy, Betuwe                c.1550           36
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Brabant               1577           23
Sambre-et-Meuse, Ardennes                     18th C        35
Durbuy, Ardennes                              18th C        44
Herve, Liege                                 1686           11
Drenthe                                    c.1630            6

Region                                    Ecclesiastical  Urban

West-Kraaijert polders, Zeeland                 0           76
Zeelandic Flanders (114)                        7           65
Uitslag van Putten, S. Holland (115)            0           58
Holland (central)                              10           55
Beijerland (oud & nieuw), S. Holland            0           51
Dollard area, Groningen (116)                  13           44
Coastal Flanders                               33           33
Tournaisis                                     30           28
Antwerp hinterlands, Brabant                   38           25
Salland, Overijssel                            18           25
Holland                                        10           25
Land van Culembourg (east), Betuwe             30           24
Ommelanden (clay areas), Groningen (117)       17           22
Sleidinge, East Flanders                       15           21
East Flanders                                   9           20
Land van Heusden, S. Holland                   21           18
Campine Liegoise                                4           17
Land van Culembourg (west), Betuwe             16           16
Tielerwaard (Waal side), Betuwe                27           14
Beauvaisis, Picardy                            22           13
Fagne-Famenne Liegoise                          3           12
Hesbaye Liegoise                               31           12
West Flanders (polder area)                    20           12
West Flanders (sandy area)                      9           11
Condroz Liegoise                                7           10
Land van Buren, Betuwe                         34            8
Ambt Beesd & Rhenoy, Betuwe                    43            5
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Brabant                 31            3
Sambre-et-Meuse, Ardennes                       2            2
Durbuy, Ardennes                               15            0
Herve, Liege                                    3            0
Drenthe                                         7            0

Region                                    Peasant/Farmer

West-Kraaijert polders, Zeeland                 9
Zeelandic Flanders (114)                       18
Uitslag van Putten, S. Holland (115)           32
Holland (central)                              25
Beijerland (oud & nieuw), S. Holland           22
Dollard area, Groningen (116)                  33
Coastal Flanders                               34
Tournaisis                                     21
Antwerp hinterlands, Brabant                   15
Salland, Overijssel                            25
Holland                                        55
Land van Culembourg (east), Betuwe              2
Ommelanden (clay areas), Groningen (117)       25
Sleidinge, East Flanders                       64
East Flanders                                  60
Land van Heusden, S. Holland                   51
Campine Liegoise                               76
Land van Culembourg (west), Betuwe             53
Tielerwaard (Waal side), Betuwe                30
Beauvaisis, Picardy                            43
Fagne-Famenne Liegoise                         52
Hesbaye Liegoise                               39
West Flanders (polder area)                    49
West Flanders (sandy area)                     58
Condroz Liegoise                               27
Land van Buren, Betuwe                         21
Ambt Beesd & Rhenoy, Betuwe                    16
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Brabant                 43
Sambre-et-Meuse, Ardennes                      56
Durbuy, Ardennes                               42
Herve, Liege                                   76
Drenthe                                        87

Sources: adapted from B. van Bavel, P. van Cruyningen and E. Thoen,
'The Low Countries, 1000-1750', in B. van Bavel and R. Hoyle (eds),
Social Relations: Property and Power. Rural Economy and Society in
North Western Europe, 500-2000 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 171-2;
P. Goubert, Beauvais et le Beauvaisis de 1600 a 1730 (Paris 1960); R.
Paping, Voor een handvol stuivers: de levensstandaard van boeren,
arbeiders en middenstanders op de Groninger klei, 1770-1860
(Groningen: NAHI, 1995); N. De Vijlder, 'The rural land market in
sixteenth-century Flanders and Brabant' (unpub. Paper, Rural History
Conference, Bern 2013), p. 17; Van Cruyningen, 'From disaster to
sustainability'; P. Vandewalle, Quatre siecles d'agriculture dans la
region de Dunkerque 1590-1990. Une etude statistique (Ghent: Centre
Beige d'Histoire Rurale, 1994), pp. 137-43; C. Baars, De geschiedenis
van de landbouw in de Beijerlanden (Wageningen: AAG Bijdragen, 1973).

Table 3. Gini coefficients for inequality across pre-industrial
Western Europe. (132)

Region                         Period     Notes

Ascoli Satriano, Kingdom of    1753        PD
Crispano/Frattapiccolo/        1749        FV
Pomigliano d'Atella, K. of
Augsburg, Duchy of Bavaria     1604        WD
Calopezzati, Kingdom of        1749        PD
West Betuwe, Duchy of          1550        DL
Florentine Contado, Republic   1427        WD
of Florence
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal    1565-6      WD
Contadi of Bologna and         1415-75     WD
Mantua (8 villages in)
Vila Franca de Campos,         1567        WD
Kingdom of Portugal
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Duchy   1577        PD
of Brabant
Locorotondo, Kingdom of        1749        PD
Alkmaar, North Holland         1534        WD

Lyon, Dauphine                 1545        WD

Padua, Duchy of Padua          1549        WD
Berkshire Downs, England       1522        WD
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal   1565-1522   WD
Vale of the White Horse,       1522        WD
Ivrea, Duchy of Savoy          1490-1680   WD  0.7
Sleidinge, Duchy of Brabant    1577        PD
Torres Vedras, Kingdom of      1309        PD
Cosentino (10 villages in),    1749        TP
Kingdom of Naples
Montagnac, Languedoc           1520        PD
Saint-Thibery, Languedoc       1460        PD
Casentino Valley, Republic
of                             1427        WD
Lamego, Kingdom of Portugal    1789        WD
Hohenlohe, Duchy of            1581        WD
Povoa d'el Rei, Kingdom of     1395        PD
Dollard Region, Groningen      1630        PD
South/Central Holland (30      1543-64     PD
villages in)
Arruda dos Vinhos, Kingdom     1369        WD
of Portugal
Cancela, Kingdom of Portugal   1699        WD

Region                        Sources

Ascoli Satriano, Kingdom of   Curtis, 'Is there an agro-town
Naples                        model?'
Crispano/Frattapiccolo/       Curtis, 'Is there an agro-town
Pomigliano d'Atella, K. of    model?'
Augsburg, Duchy of Bavaria    Robisheaux, Rural society, 86
Calopezzati, Kingdom of       Curtis, 'Is there an agro-town
Naples                        model?'
West Betuwe, Duchy of         Curtis, 'The impact of land
Guelders                      accumulation'
Florentine Contado, Republic  Curtis, 'Florence and its
of Florence                   hinterlands'
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal   Johnson, 'Malthus confirmed?'
Contadi of Bologna and        Curtis, 'Into the frontier'
Mantua (8 villages in)
Vila Franca de Campos,        Oliviera Marques, 'Estratificacao
Kingdom of Portugal           economico
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Duchy  De Vijlder, 'The rural land market
of Brabant
Locorotondo, Kingdom of       Curtis, 'Is there an agro-town
Naples                        model?'
Alkmaar, North Holland        Van Zanden, 'Tracing the
Lyon, Dauphine                Van Zanden, 'Tracing the
                              beginning'  0.75
Padua, Duchy of Padua         Van Zanden, 'Tracing the beginning
Berkshire Downs, England      Yates, 'Change and continuities'
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal  Johnson, 'Malthus confirmed?'
Vale of the White Horse,      Yates, 'Change and continuities'
Ivrea, Duchy of Savoy         Alfani, 'Wealth inequalities'
Sleidinge, Duchy of Brabant   De Vijlder, 'The rural land market
Torres Vedras, Kingdom of     Johnson, 'Malthus confirmed?'
Cosentino (10 villages in),   Curtis, 'Is there an agro-town
Kingdom of Naples             model?'
Montagnac, Languedoc          Le Roy Ladurie, Les paysans
Saint-Thibery, Languedoc      Le Roy ladurie, Les paysans
Casentino Valley, Republic
of                            Curtis, 'Florence and its
Florence                      Hinterlands'
Lamego, Kingdom of Portugal   Johnson, 'Malthus confirmed?'
Hohenlohe, Duchy of           Robisheaux, Rural society
Povoa d'el Rei, Kingdom of    Hoffman & Johnson, 'Un village
Portugal                      portugais
Dollard Region, Groningen     This paper
South/Central Holland (30     Curtis, 'Into the frontier'
villages in)
Arruda dos Vinhos, Kingdom    Oliviera Marques, 'Estratificacao
of Portugal                   economico
Cancela, Kingdom of Portugal  Romero Magalhaes, O Algarve
                              Economico, 186-7

Region                        Gini

Ascoli Satriano, Kingdom of   0.97
Crispano/Frattapiccolo/       0.9
Pomigliano d'Atella, K. of
Augsburg, Duchy of Bavaria    0.89
Calopezzati, Kingdom of       0.87
West Betuwe, Duchy of         0.85
Florentine Contado, Republic  0.8
of Florence
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal   0.8
Contadi of Bologna and        0.8
Mantua (8 villages in)
Vila Franca de Campos,        0.79
Kingdom of Portugal
St-Kathelijne Lombeek, Duchy  0.78
of Brabant
Locorotondo, Kingdom of       0.77
Alkmaar, North Holland
Lyon, Dauphine

Padua, Duchy of Padua         0.74
Berkshire Downs, England      0.71
Coimbra, Kingdom of Portugal  0.69
Vale of the White Horse,      0.67
Ivrea, Duchy of Savoy         0.6-0.7
Sleidinge, Duchy of Brabant   0.62
Torres Vedras, Kingdom of     0.62
Cosentino (10 villages in),   0.61
Kingdom of Naples
Montagnac, Languedoc          0.61
Saint-Thibery, Languedoc      0.59
Casentino Valley, Republic
of                            0.58
Lamego, Kingdom of Portugal   0.58
Hohenlohe, Duchy of           0.59
Povoa d'el Rei, Kingdom of    0.57
Dollard Region, Groningen     0.54
South/Central Holland (30     0.54
villages in)
Arruda dos Vinhos, Kingdom    0.43
of Portugal
Cancela, Kingdom of Portugal  0.43

Sources: D. Curtis, 'Florence and its hinterlands in the late Middle
Ages: contrasting fortunes in the Tuscan countryside, 1300-1500',
Journal of Medieval History 38 (2012): 427-99; 'Into the frontier'
(unpub. Paper, Rural History Conference, Bern 2013); 'The impact of
land accumulation'; Curtis and Campopiano, 'Medieval land
reclamation'; R. Hoffman and H. Johnson, 'Un village portugais en
mutation; Povoa d'El Rey a la fin du quatorzieme siecle', Annates: ESC
26 (1971): 917-40; H. Johnson, 'Malthus confirmed? Being some
reflections on the changing distribution of wealth and income in
Portugal (1309-1789)' (unpub. paper 2001); E. Le Roy Ladurie, Les
paysans du Languedoc (Paris: S.E.V.P.E.N, 1969); A. de Oliviera
Marques, 'Estratificacao economico-social de uma villa portuguesa da
Idade Media', in Ensaios de Historia Medieval portuguesa (Lisbon:
Vega, 1980), pp. 121-33; J. Romero Magalhaes, O Algarve Economico,
1600-1773 (Lisbon: Editorial Estampa, 1993); T. Robisheaux, Rural
Society and the Search for Order in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge:
CUP, 1989); De Vijlder, 'The rural land market'; M. Yates, 'Change and
continuities in rural societies from the later Middle Ages to the
sixteenth century: the contribution of West Berkshire', Economic
History Review 52 (1999): 617-37; J.L. van Zanden, 'Tracing the
beginning of the Kuznets Curve: Western Europe during the early modern
period', Economic History Review 48 (1995): 643-64; Alfani, 'Wealth
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Author:Curtis, Daniel R.
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Date:Feb 1, 2016
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