Managing the Crisis? The Resilience of Local Networks and Institutions within the Low Countries during the Napoleonic Period

Date: 28 November 2016

Introduction: New PhD-project of Centre for Urban History-member Dirk Lueb.

The Napoleonic era brought with it disastrous wars and severe economic decline. Napoleon's 1806 Continental System severely disrupted international maritime trade. Although some regions in the Low Countries benefitted from these protective measures accompanied by investments in industries, the coastal maritime centres were hit hard. Nevertheless, life goes on - even in times of dreadful crises.

In this PhD-project, Dirk Lueb will investigate the strategies and mechanisms devised by merchant communities in the port cities of Antwerp and Ostend in order to manage the crisis between 1806 and 1813. How did the merchants overcome the problems brought by the economic downturn? Did they resort to hazardous measures such as covert trade and smuggling? How did merchants interact with the new government regulations? In other words, how resilient were their networks?