Abstract: The Changing Geography of Demand for Dutch Maritime Transport in the Eighteenth Century

Werner Scheltjens


This paper studies the relations between shipping, merchant business, and product supply and demand from an economic-geographical perspective. Based on a case study about grain transportation in the eighteenth century, it is established that structural changes in supply and demand led to the emergence of new transportation routes, provoking a shift from a bilateral trade pattern to a diversified pattern with many locations involved, but none strictly dominant. An attempt is made to explain the effects of these changes on the structure of the Dutch maritime transport sector. Three spatial developments are singled out: a movement from the Dutch northwestern coastline further inland to communities in Southern Frisia; a shift in the organization of maritime transport from the demand side (primarily Amsterdam) to the supply side of business (the Baltic); and integration of shipping communities located in the Province of Groningen in the Dutch commercial system.