Bram van Hofstraeten wins VIDI prize

On 13 May, NWO announced the winners of the 87 VIDI prizes of 800,000 euro. One of the winners is Bram Van Hofstraeten (Foundations and Methods of Law, Faculty of Law). The Vidi grant allows him to conduct research on the topic of his choosing, launch an innovative research line and set up his own research group. Please find below a short summary of his proposed research line.

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 and limited partnerships, in the early modern Low Countries. But what’s in a name? 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 proposal 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).

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.


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