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The pre-modern migration to Rotterdam really took off in the three decades before The influence of all immigration, both from abroad and other parts of the Republic, on population size and growth cannot always be easily established due to a lack of reliable data, but must have been considerable. Population growth continued in the seventeenth century, with the number of inhabitants reaching 30, in and 51, in , making Rotterdam the second largest city in the Dutch Republic.

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More than half of marriage-age men from to were born outside Rotterdam, with their origins equally divided between the Republic and other countries. The available marriage registers in the period —, as well as the birth and death registers from to , suggest that this population growth in the seventeenth century must, for the greater part, have been caused by immigration Bonke ; Van der Schoor Origins at the time of first marriage in Rotterdam, sample — in percentages. Source: Briels , Renting , and Bonke This first major inflow of immigrants also marked the beginnings of superdiversity, because migrants from other foreign regions than the Southern Netherlands soon made their way to Rotterdam.

Indeed, even before , a small but steady inflow from Germany and England had reached the city, to be followed in the seventeenth century by migrants from France, Scandinavia, Poland, Switzerland and Italy. In this way, the number of foreign countries or regions of origin more than doubled. Migrants from other countries have to be added to this foreign community. The composition of this foreign body was never constant, especially because immigration was temporarily slowed down by trade wars or other periods of unrest, such as those in —, — and — On the other hand, immigration could also be temporarily accelerated, for instance by foreign refugees on the run.

The abovementioned Flemish influx after the fall of Antwerp in is an early example, whereas the French Protestants who fled to the Dutch Republic after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in are an example from a century later Van der Linden In scientific life, the French philosopher Pierre Bayle soon rose to prominence. He arrived in Rotterdam in and was appointed Professor in Philosophy and History at the so-called Illustre School. This later world famous scholar and writer had a profound influence on the cultural and intellectual life of Rotterdam Bots Clearly, the political and religious tolerance of Rotterdam attracted all kinds of foreign immigrants and provided a favourable climate not only for the urban economy, but also for cultural and intellectual life in the Western world Voorhees A comparable group to the French in size, although somewhat smaller, was that of the Scots towards the end of the seventeenth century.

The Scots were an element of British immigration, which was larger than its Flemish, German or French counterparts in the mid-seventeenth century Catterall , pp.

The Scots community differed little from the French in size, but was different in terms of the economic reasons for settling in the city. The existing trade-based ties between Rotterdam and England, and British migration to Rotterdam, received an important boost when the influential Court of the Fellowship of Merchant Adventurers, which controlled the export of British woollens, was moved to Rotterdam in Consequently, trade between Scotland and Rotterdam also expanded, as did Scottish immigration to the city.

Scottish merchants in Rotterdam traded in bulk goods from Scotland, such as salted salmon, hides, sheep fells, wool, plaid and the important coal; in exchange, they exported all sorts of luxury and manufactured goods. It has been stressed that closely connected to this participation in the Dutch economy were the social networks that existed between Scottish Rotterdam and other Scottish communities; these networks and the Scottish Church of Rotterdam made it possible to maintain and promote a Scottish culture and migrant identity Catterall , pp.

Most seem to have had a migration tradition, which was often based on old trading ties. There were also less wealthy migrants, such as the Germans, from the late seventeenth century onwards. Most of these were simple labourers or small traders. They continued to migrate to Rotterdam, however, until the end of the nineteenth century Catterall Despite the end of the supremacy of the Republic in the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century, the population size and make-up altered little due to the changing international balance of economic power, although the number of Germans migrating to Rotterdam increased sharply.

A fall in migration to Rotterdam caused the population to drop from 51, in to 47, in After the early eighteenth century wars and economic recession were overcome, the population increased again to 58, in To establish the extent of immigration and its origins, two additional sources exist that provide an insight: the Poorterboeken , in which the more affluent migrants are listed who were able to buy the expensive at 12 guilders civil rights required for business and guild membership; and the Admissieboeken that listed all officially admitted migrants, especially the less well-to-do Stadsarchief Rotterdam, Oud Stadsarchief OSA , inv.

The Poorterboeken and Admissieboeken both show the attempts of the Rotterdam City Administration to exert some control over the initial settlement of different groups of migrants. In the first half of the century, the number of poorters migrating to the city amounted to around a thousand per decade, although that number rose to around per decade after Sixty percent of the new Rotterdammers had roots in the countryside of the Dutch Republic.

The conclusion is that the strong growth in the number of German poorters accounts, for the most part, for the general rise in the number of poorters after This phenomenon can be explained by the structural changes in the international balance of power, forcing the Republic to increase trade with nearby countries, and especially with the continental German hinterland, which had a positive influence on German migration to Rotterdam Van der Schoor Yet not all German migrants were rich enough to become a poorter.

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Along with other Germans and Dutch migrants from Brabant, who were usually mostly Catholic, they became part of a manual labour workforce. Indeed, from to , one such organisation registered individuals or families, more than half of which had migrated to Rotterdam from Brabant and Germany Van Voorst van Beest , pp.

In the eighteenth century, more than 28, immigrants were admitted in this way. Their total number rose from a few hundred in the first few decades to almost in — There was some decline in the decades that followed, but well over per decade were admitted up to the end of the century Bonke , p. While the number of admitted immigrants is known, their country of origin has, until now, received very little attention. In , and , these admissions numbered much less than , but from onwards exceeded as a result of the improving economic conditions following the early eighteenth century wars and the recession.

In total, 18 different nationalities could be distinguished, on average 7 per year. This corresponds with the trend of generally lower percentages of foreign immigrants in Dutch cities in the eighteenth century compared to the position in the seventeenth century Lucassen , p. The findings presented here on poorters and final admittees show that roughly two thirds of these eighteenth century immigrants came from the countryside of the Dutch Republic, while one third were foreigners.

As far as the latter group is concerned, the most significant aspect of eighteenth century migration to Rotterdam is the very clear overrepresentation of German immigrants among both poorters and final admittees. Most European port cities showed substantial population increases during the nineteenth century. A substantial part of their demographic development was the result of in-migration Lee ; Lawton and Lee The city had lost much of its innovative power, which was highlighted during and just after the Napoleonic era — In the first half of the nineteenth century, the city fathers were slow to value the economic possibilities of industrialisation and neglected the opportunities that the liberalisation of trade and commerce had to offer.

By then, the city was run by a closed system of patricians, who were unwilling to accommodate outsiders in their business networks. This attitude contrasted with the relative openness of the Rotterdam merchants and the participation of migrants in the public space in earlier periods. Port-city studies show disruptions of the merchant oligarchy between those favouring new developments e. However, once this network opened up around , Rotterdam was ready to enter the industrial era Callahan Migration ratios of Rotterdam, — Source: Van de Laar At that time, its migration pattern was still based on a pre-industrial labour market structure.

The city provided agrarian labourers with an income from temporary labour, in addition to other sources of livelihood in agriculture, forestry or rural industries. This pre-modern system lost its flexibility because of the increasing proletarisation of labour and the marginalisation of rural sources of income in the nineteenth century. Seasonal migration patterns turned into permanent rural-urban migration Winter Unsurprisingly, most urban historians use the series of port turnovers and shipping activities as evidence for the relentless number of migrants Van Dijk This relationship is, however, ambiguous.

Migrant surpluses fell after , with a period of rapid port traffic and, as a consequence, rising employment opportunities. By then, natural increases became a more important population growth factor, resulting from a sharp decline in infant mortality rates and a general improvement of health circumstances in the city, but also because the immigration of young men and women encouraged nuptiality Van de Laar However, apart from the in-migration of numerous German female servants, the city experienced a substantial negative net-migration rate in the inter-war period, as many successful Rotterdammers moved to the suburbs.

These documented and assembled stories became essential pieces of a greater narrative of Rotterdam as a city of migration. Rotterdam-South, the new harbour and industrial part of the city across the River Maas, played a fundamental role in this new narrative, turning the city into a city of arrival for migrants with an agricultural background. These migrants left their homes in the provinces, trying to escape the depression of the s and s. The increasing importation of cheap foodstuffs from the Americas ruined many European farmers, who were forced to abandon agriculture and move to the cities in a search for work.

Many Dutch agrarian workers escaped the agrarian provinces, in particular Brabant, Zeeland and the South-Holland Islands, and moved to Rotterdam. Rotterdam needed labourers to build docks and houses for all these new arrivals, but at the same time migrants provided the port city with a vast army of casual dockers. Provinces and countries of origin and birth of migrants to Rotterdam, and in percentages. Source: Bruggeman and Van de Laar , p. The central province of Utrecht was not a major supplier of labour.

North-Brabant and Zeeland were important, but these agrarian provinces played a less significant role in terms of emigration than the rural towns in South-Holland. In his research, Puschmann used sample data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands HSN , which is a random sample of the Dutch population born in the period — Mandemakers Puschmann , p. Then, they travelled to larger provincial towns before finally arriving in Rotterdam.

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In general, people were on the move, looking for new labour opportunities, but rural-urban migrants followed a particular pattern. Rotterdam is not unique in this sense: migrants moving to Marseille and Antwerp, for example, followed a similar pattern Winter Collection Atlas Van Stolk, Rotterdam. Return migration was always an option for these short-distance migrants, however.

Cécile Riallant Joint Migration and Development Initiative UNDP

A small percentage of the out-migrants travelled abroad, but a substantially larger part of them moved to other cities in the Netherlands. The four major cities of the Randstad conurbation Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht were alternative places of settlement. Migrants took advantage of the railroad infrastructure and information network supported by local agents and a commercial network of local newspapers.

Once migrants had accepted that migration was the best option to improve their economic position, they developed a migratory mindset, which encouraged them to move on when the city of first arrival did not provide them with adequate job opportunities.

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The sense of mobility, however, reduced the possibility of feeling at home and, so, integration in society. Those who remained in Rotterdam were perhaps more successful than those who left the city, but there is no clear empirical evidence of this. More research is, therefore, needed to evaluate the careers of migrants who left Rotterdam compared to those who stayed behind. Source: Bruggeman and Van de Laar The urban industrial sector groups together all kinds of professional category that are not directly port or maritime related.

Gas, electricity, and construction are also classified as urban industries.

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Social services mental health and caring professions, household and liberal professions form part of non-port-related professions. The port-related industries are typically shipbuilding or maritime-related supply industries. The port service clusters all companies dealing directly with port and transport functions, but also activities in the field of trade, retail, commerce, banking and insurance. The construction and clothing sectors were the main branches of urban industrial activities in the census data, followed by the food sector. The clothing sector generated fewer jobs from the mids onwards, as this traditional, labour-intensive sector was unable to compete with the manufacture of garments in workshops and factories.

Contractors, carpenters, polder workers and painters flocked to the city. According to the sample, the relative number of migrants working in the construction sector declined after An expanding city also needed many food suppliers, but as in other branches, artisan-driven food factories lost their importance. Industrial-based food manufacturers, which could produce goods more cheaply, supplied a larger share of the daily rations of the working population.

On the other hand, the new industrial-based food manufacturers generated new jobs, including for migrants. The shipbuilding and metal industries were leading sectors with higher barriers to entry, with only skilled workers recruited. This may explain the small variance in the occupancy rates between the census data and our migration sample. Larger differences occurred in the trade, traffic and administrative sectors.

Relatively fewer migrants found employment in port-related services, but we have to take account of the fact that seafaring people may have been under-registered in the sample data. The banking and insurance sectors generated more jobs at the turn of the century, but without a specialist network which was the case for German migrants, see below the entry barrier was high, due to the higher education requirements associated with office work. Puschmann , Chapter 6 analysed the career opportunities of inland migrants coming to Rotterdam.


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In general, his results show that Bruggeman and Van de Laar concluded that casual labourers in general found employment in construction, port activities and transport.