Private partnerships

What’s in a Name? Challenging Early Modern Ideal-Types of Private Partnerships in the Low Countries (17th-18th Centuries)

For at least a century, legal historians have been looking for examples of well-defined ideal-types of private partnerships, like general partnerships, limited partnerships, contractus trini, etc., in the early modern Low Countries. But what’s in a name?

Private Partnerships

This project hypothesizes that early modern entrepreneurs did not think or act in terms of model categories which were devised by contemporaneous, and particularly French, jurisprudence and legislation. On the contrary, the project claims that entrepreneurs created a much more diverse and dynamic spectrum of corporate structures, and that this complex universe of private partnerships resulted from a customarily established degree of contractual freedom which allowed them to create those kinds of structures which served their needs at best in a given situation.

In order to test the aforementioned hypothesis, the project will describe the legal and organisational features of private partnerships in three different economic centres of the early modern Low Countries: Amsterdam, Liège and Antwerp. Therefore, it will make use of an untouched set of archival sources, more specifically notarized partnership agreements, for they represent more accurate reflections of actual corporate practices.

With its focus on and opening up of mercantile sources, the project is anticipated to have significant implications for economic history as well, for it will allow its practitioners to assess the actual role of equity capital organization as a means to finance business and to provide a better understanding of the emergence and development of capitalism in the early modern period.

Conferences & Activities

In the course of the project, two workshops or conferences will be organized.

E-partnership agreements

In the future, all the partnership agreements that the project revealed will be published here.