Private partnerships in early modern Antwerp

Supervisors: Bram van Hofstraeten (Universiteit Maastricht),  Jeroen Puttevils (Universiteit van Antwerpen)

Keywords: Private partnerships, Antwerp, notarial office, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, law in books, law in practice.

"Private partnerships in early modern Antwerp"

This dissertation investigates private partnerships in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Antwerp (1621–1791) from both a legal historical and a socioeconomic perspective. Whereas the legal-historical part deals with the interaction between Antwerp customary law and learned legal literature (the ‘law in books’) related to business practices in the form of notarised and privately drafted agreements (the ‘law in practice’), the socioeconomic historical part focuses on the functions a partnership could fulfil in an early modern society. Based on 221 notarised partnership contracts and 20 privately drafted agreements, this dissertation demonstrates that entrepreneurs resorted to the legal principle of freedom of contract to create a partnership contract that conformed to but also partially deviated from the existing legal framework. In addition to that, this dissertation argues that partnerships could be established to create some form of legal security for the partners involved and their family members, to stimulate or constrain the circulation of knowledge and skills, and to prevent or resolve conflicts. In this way, partnerships contributed to economic development and played a role in addressing social issues in early modern Antwerp.


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