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The Dutch-Algerian War and the Rise of British Shipping to Southern Europe (1715-1726)

Magnus Ressel
p. 237-255

Résumés

En 1715, deux ans seulement après avoir pu mettre fin à la guerre de Succession d’Espagne, les Provinces-Unies reçoivent une déclaration de guerre de la régence d’Alger. Les conséquences sont désastreuses pour la navigation et le commerce hollandais en Europe du Sud. La République, pourtant affaiblie par de longues années de conflit, est obligée de mener une nouvelle guerre épuisante. Ce n’est qu’avec grande difficulté que les Hollandais parviennent enfin à battre les Algériens en Méditerranée occidentale et à conclure une paix durable en 1726. Pendant ces longues années de guerre, les Britanniques s’imposent et s’emparent désormais des profits du transport maritime entre l’Europe du Nord et l’Europe du Sud – une position qu’ils conservent jusqu’au début des guerres révolutionnaires, à la fin du dix-huitième siècle. Nous pouvons considérer la guerre entre Alger et les Provinces-Unies de 1715-1726 comme l’un des conflits cruciaux de l’époque moderne, et comme l’une des principales causes du passage de l’hégémonie maritime de la Hollande à la Grande-Bretagne.

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I wish to thank Leos Müller and Silvia Marzagalli as well as the anonymous peer-reviewers for important input and inspiration for this article.

Introduction

  • 1  The peacetime relations between Algiers and the United Provinces after 1726 have hitherto not been (...)

1On 8 September 1726, the Dutch Republic and the Regency of Algiers concluded a peace treaty after having been at war for more than 88 of the previous 126 years. The two states had been in conflict during the periods from February 1618 to October 1622, from August 1630 to April 1662, from July 1664 to April 1679, from March 1686 to June 1712 and from December 1715 to September 1726. The years 1600-1616 had seen a difficult phase of neither peace nor war with occasional captures of Dutch ships, whereas the time from August 1616 to February 1618 can be regarded as a time of peace when a Dutch consul had served without much trouble in Algiers. The treaty of 1726 became the watershed. Until the French occupation of 1795, the Dutch Republic endured only one more war with Algiers, from February 1755 to November 1757, a short annoyance in an otherwise generally harmonious relationship.1

  • 2  This neglect has a tradition: in the nineteenth century there is surprisingly little in the standa (...)
  • 3  Jonathan Israel, one of the few authors who mention the “Algerian factor”, underestimated the impo (...)

2The war of 1715-1726 was thus decisive. Financially and economically exhausted by the War of the Spanish Succession, the Dutch Republic soon after the peace of Utrecht had to deal with an enigmatic and elusive enemy far away. In the end the success seemingly justified the sacrifices. When the ink dried on the peace treaty in the September sun of Algiers in 1726, the leaders and inhabitants of the Dutch Republic had achieved one of their foremost goals, one that they had been pursuing for more than a decade. In contrast to the great importance contemporaries accorded to this peace, its treatment in historical writing is close to non-existent. This is perhaps due to a general neglect of Mediterranean in favor of Atlantic history in the eighteenth century.2 One may go even further: the importance of Algiers for European economic and political history remains underestimated to this day, to the detriment of our understanding of the importance of relations between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.3

  • 4  Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of (...)

3This paper aims to partially redress this situation by studying the relations between the leading commercial nation of early modern Europe and the strongest North African regency to gain insight into a specific aspect of Europe’s economic history. Moreover, the paper highlights an important part of the history of Dutch engagement in the eighteenth-century Mediterranean world, a topic about which, according to two of the foremost specialists on Dutch economic history, we still know relatively little.4

  • 5  On the relation of economic growth and the shipping industry in the early modern age see Richard U (...)

4The basic hypothesis here is: The Dutch-Algerian war was one of the most important factors leading to the structural loss of market share in Mediterranean shipping and trade by the Dutch to the advantage of the British in the early eighteenth century. The particular vulnerability of European shipping to Muslim corsairs in this region influenced the fate of important segments of the Dutch and British economies.5 Nowhere does this become as evident as in the Dutch-Algerian war of 1715-1726. We will describe the context, the actual events and the results of this war to highlight the structural parameters that defined and shaped the interaction between Northwestern and Southern Europe. To illustrate the role and the political/economic power of the Dutch merchants, how they functioned as a network and acted to change the foreign policy of the States-General, special use shall be made of memorandums and diplomatic correspondence. These show the Dutch point of view on the international scene and the possibilities and limits of the United Provinces as a political power in the early eighteenth century.

The context

  • 6  Jonathan Israel, “The phases…”, op. cit., p. 1-26; Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Mo (...)

5Throughout the entire early modern age, the exchange of goods between Northern and Southern Europe remained one of the most profitable branches of trade. This was one of the pillars on which the fortunes of the Dutch Republic rested. Being favorably situated at the mouth of the Rhine-Maas delta and located between the Baltic and Southern European ports, the Republic had emerged as an important trade emporium during the sixteenth century and was able to retain this position in many regards until the French Revolution.6

  • 7  On the concept of the information staple: Clé Lesger, Handel in Amsterdam ten tijde van de Opstand (...)
  • 8  This was expressed as a basic rule of the Dutch Republic during its golden age, most famously in P (...)
  • 9  Helmut Koenigsberger, “English Merchants in Naples and Sicily in the Seventeenth Century”, English (...)

6The ideal situation for the Republic’s shipping was one of complete peace all over Europe. With Amsterdam being the “information staple” of Europe for most of the seventeenth century and attracting well-qualified but not too highly-paid sailors from Germany and Scandinavia, its merchants and shippers were usually able to undercut the freight rates of all competitors and thus secure a rather large market share in every corner of the continent.7 A network of secure and unthreatened shipping lanes from Alexandria and Constantinople up to Archangelsk and the Baltic, with the Republic in the middle, was certainly the dream of many leaders of the Republic.8 In reality this had only rarely been attainable. Several wars with the greater European powers, continuing through every decade from 1568 to 1715, had often hampered Dutch shipping. Luckily for the Republic, the shipping activities of its main competitor, England, suffered mostly just as much –often simultaneously– during these wars, either as the enemy of the Republic or as its ally. But when this was not the case, this was to the great detriment of the Republic’s shipping. From 1674 to 1678, England was neutral while the Dutch were engaged in a fierce war against France: this gave a strong boost to English shipping and trade.9 However, after 1678, the Dutch were able to regain their competitiveness in the intra-European seaborne trades, proving that the damage had not been structural.

  • 10  The history of international and joint convoying is still neglected by research. See Ernst Baasch, (...)
  • 11  On this complex topic see Robert Playfair, The scourge of christendom. Annals of British relations (...)

7A very different situation prevailed in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic seaboard of the Iberian Peninsula. These Southern European waters were an area where Barbary corsairs from Northern Africa operated in large numbers and over the years took hundreds, even thousands, of European ships. For Northern Europeans this was a great problem; yet on the whole it remained manageable for each single political entity as long as the principal competitors also suffered. If everybody sailed with the same degree of danger or safety, nobody lost or won too much. For most of the seventeenth century, simple measures sufficed to protect one’s shipping. Practically all Northern Europeans recurred to convoys, especially between 1620 and 1720 for their southbound shipping.10 This certainly caused a rise in transport costs but it was an enforceable and pragmatic measure that served well as long as no better alternative was at hand. Peace treaties between the Northern powers and the Barbary corsairs would certainly have been a less costly alternative, but only if the clause “Free Ship–Free Goods” were included. Without this explicit guarantee of immunity, if the corsairs had the right to seize enemy goods on neutral ships, the advantage of neutrality would have been lost, stripping peace treaties of any practical use.11

  • 12  On the concept of “Free Ship–Free Goods” and its history, no comprehensive account has been writte (...)
  • 13  Godfrey Fisher, Barbary legend: War, trade, and piracy in North Africa, 1415-1830, Oxford, Clarend (...)
  • 14  John Wolf, The Barbary Coast. Algiers under the Turks 1500 to 1830, New York, Norton, 1979, p. 309 (...)

8Until 1662 no nation had been able to extract the principle “Free Ship–Free Goods” from the corsairs on a permanent basis.12 With England obtaining this clause that year, the situation changed fundamentally. England introduced a set of unforgeable and obligatory “Algerian passports” for its southbound merchant ships and thus guaranteed the authenticity of each of them in case they met up with Algerian corsairs.13 Faced with strong subsequent growth of the English fleet in the Mediterranean, the Algerians broke this peace twice in the following years (1668-1671, 1678-1682) and tried to wage a privateer war against England, only to find out each time that England was able to hit back with overwhelming might. The two wars ended negatively for Algiers, and when faced with dangerous French attacks in the 1680s, Algiers definitively opted for peace with England, which was to last for over 140 years.14

  • 15  The French enjoyed a situation of peace (with brief interruptions) with the regencies from the ear (...)
  • 16  Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague (hereafter ARH), 1.01.02, Resoluties Staten Generaal, Nr. 162, 15 (...)
  • 17  Gerard Brandt, Het leven en het bedrijf van den Heere Michiel de Ruyter, Amsterdam, Allart, 1687, (...)

9England thereby had obtained a structural advantage in Southern European waters. English ships could now sail in times of intra-European peace without expensive convoys. The Dutch suffered from this situation. In Southern European waters, Northern European shipowners made substantial profits through carrying trade for a wide array of international merchants, be they Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Turks, Italians, Spaniards, Germans or from any other nation. The environment was highly competitive, and it became even more so when the French substantially strengthened their shipping within the Mediterranean from the late seventeenth century onwards.15 The Dutch realized the consequences of the English-Algerian peace for their own shipping activities. Various reports from the court of Madrid or from Armenian merchants in Messina arrived at The Hague and all pointed out that freight was shifting from the Dutch to the English.16 From 1661 to 1663, the Republic thus sent out several squadrons of warships under the command of Michiel de Ruyter to tackle the problem and force the Algerians, and with them the other regencies, to accept a lasting peace treaty.17

  • 18  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 50-55.
  • 19  Forty-nine Dutch ships coming from a Southern European harbor passed the Sound eastwards in 1685, (...)
  • 20  Patrick Villiers, Les corsaires du littoral. Dunkerque, Calais, Boulogne de Philippe II à Louis XI (...)

10Yet, as in the following decades, military action was doomed to failure since the Republic was too often engaged in continental affairs that required attention and resources. Attempts to achieve stable relations with Algiers did not work over the long run. From 1679 to 1686 the Republic was able to maintain an uneasy peace with Algiers and thus to secure an important share of the peacetime trade with Southern Europe.18 The Algerian declaration of war in 1686 hurt Dutch shipping in this region,19 yet, with the outbreak of the general European conflict in 1689, the danger of the Barbary corsairs lost some of its urgency. For the following decades French corsairs from Dunkirk and Brest were the greatest danger, and both England and the Dutch Republic suffered from their depredations.20

  • 21  Jonathan Israel, “The phases…”, op. cit., p. 20-21.

11Nevertheless, England held a structural advantage over its Dutch competitors in Southern European waters thanks to its treaties with the Barbary regencies. This is most likely the basis for Jonathan Israel’s conclusion: “during phase four (1647-88) the English seaborne trade to Turkey exceeded the Dutch by something like a ratio of around five to four […]. This is especially noteworthy in that the Levant trade can in some respects be said to have been more vital to the Dutch Republic than to England”.21

  • 22  The National Archives of the UK, London (hereafter TNA), Admirality 7/76, fol. 1-5.
  • 23  Jean de Dumont, Corps Universel Diplomatique Du Droit Des Gens, Vol. V.1, Amsterdam, 1726-1731, p. (...)

12Why did the Algerians choose England and not the Dutch Republic as a partner? The answer is closely linked to the decentralized structure of the Republic. A more centralized state like England could issue a specific and unforgeable type of Algerian passport. The passport regulations stipulated that only captains commanding ships owned by English merchants and manned by a crew of at least two-thirds English sailors were entitled to carry this kind of document.22 Thus the passport ensured the authenticity of English ships. This system showed the Algerian corsairs that no ships from any other nation could sail under the English flag and thereby profit from the peace treaty. In the Dutch Republic, seven provinces each had their own specific type of passport, usually consisting of a rather simple paper engraving. This was at times a substantial boon to Northern Germans. In Hamburg and, to a lesser degree, in the other Northern German cities, a large black market for Dutch passports existed which was facilitated by the great autonomy of the Republic’s provinces. After 1662 the Algerians regularly demanded a uniform passport from the Dutch Republic, often with explicit reference to the ongoing forgery in Hamburg. Yet, for decades the Dutch Republic was unable to produce this sort of document. The Dutch Republic was finally able to procure a unified passport in 1712, but it learned just a few months later that this model, too, had been forged in Hamburg.23

  • 24  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 64; Klaas Heeringa, Bronnen tot de Geschie (...)
  • 25  See table below.
  • 26  Klaas Heeringa, Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis…, op. cit., p. 498-499, 553.

13The result was a bitter blow for the Republic. In December 1715 Algiers declared war on the Republic. The official reason given by the Algerians was that the Dutch had been too slow to buy back their enslaved compatriots and had not delivered war munitions as promised.24 Yet a simple glance at the statistics reveals the great amount of Dutch merchant shipping in Southern European waters at the time of the declaration of war.25 The Algerian corsairs had been encountering many undefended Dutch ships for years, and only very few from other northern nations, which could be regarded as legitimate targets. This was to the advantage of Morocco, which had been able to attract several Algerian captains with their ships and crews from 1712 to 1715 with the promise of potential Dutch prey.26 The difficulties this caused to Algiers and the supposition that many of the allegedly Dutch ships were from Hamburg or Scandinavia convinced the Algerian government of the advantages of a declaration of war against the United Provinces.

War

  • 27  Gregorio Sánchez Doncel, Presencia de España en Orán, 1509-1792, Toledo, Estudio Teológico de San (...)
  • 28  Three ships (64 sailors) in 1714, seven ships (179 sailors) in 1715 and five ships (116 sailors) i (...)
  • 29  Tito Benady, “The Settlement of Jews in Gibraltar, 1704-1783”, Transactions & Miscellanies of the (...)
  • 30  According to Ralph Davis, in the eighteenth century the British Levantine trade was stagnant, whil (...)

14For two full years the Republic did not react to the Algerian threat. Maybe its leaders hoped that the Algerians were not all that powerful on the oceans, since decades of international convoying had not allowed many captures of northern ships. But their hopes were misplaced. Just months after the outbreak of hostilities, Dutch ships were captured, wreaking havoc on the Republic’s southbound shipping. Perhaps Algeria’s surprising strength was due to the reacquisition of Oran in 1708.27 Whatever the precise reason, 1716 witnessed what was nearly an annihilation of Dutch shipping in Southern European waters, with the loss of 15 merchant ships and their 359 sailors captured by the corsairs.28 For the first time in decades, British shipping marginalized Dutch competitors in this branch of intra-European maritime trade. The fact that the British could obtain this result despite their problems in the Baltic, where they fought a war against Sweden from 1715 to 1719, and despite the great economic crisis that hit Britain in 1720, gives us an idea of the impact of Algerian corsairs. Gibraltar flourished under British rule, mostly thanks to a growing community of Jewish traders and their families who were experts in legal trade and smuggling.29 The possession of this base was an important boon to British trade in Southern European waters.30

15Even though we do not have sound statistics for the Mediterranean, a good indication of the impact of corsairs can be deduced from the respective intensity of Dutch and British shipping to Portugal. The salt flats of this country were important destinations for the ships of Northern Europe. Not only did both countries supply their home ports with Portuguese salt, but they also competed intensely in furnishing Baltic countries with it. Thus, Dutch and British ships regularly sailed directly through the strait of the Sound at Helsingør after having fetched salt from Portugal. Since the entire Portuguese coast was vulnerable to Barbary corsairs, we can obtain insight into the impact of Barbary privateering by looking at the traffic of Dutch and British ships sailing from Portugal to the Baltic. The result shows us how strong the Algerian factor was:

  • 31  Based on STRO. The great majority of these ships were laden with salt; other important cargo items (...)

Table. Ships passing the Sound eastwards coming from a Portuguese harbor31

Year

British

Dutch

Year

British

Dutch

1712

7

12

1724

28

10

1713

20

14

1725

28

18

1714

37

50

1726

31

12

1715

27

58

1727

18

24

1716

20

2

1728

27

38

1717

18

4

1729

18

19

1718

22

18

1730

10

16

1719

17

19

1731

13

14

1720

11

28

1732

1

4

1721

14

34

1733

6

13

1722

66

19

1734

10

18

1723

29

24

1735

23

23

16The strong fluctuations between the years 1715-1716 and 1721-1722 as well as the lesser but still substantial shift between 1726 and 1727 are all connected to the war, as we will show below. Before we analyze the evolution in detail, it should be stressed that whereas only 50 percent of the British ships came from London, up to 90 percent of the Dutch ships came from the province of Holland, mostly from Amsterdam. Mediterranean affairs in the Republic were first and foremost a problem for the merchants and shipowners from Holland, while in Britain we see a stronger engagement of all parts of the United Kingdom. In a decentralized state like the United Provinces this delayed actions at the national level, which at times caused the Republic’s leaders to react slowly in the crisis to come.

  • 32  Erik Lindberg, “An 18th-century Swedish perspective on the Portuguese salt industry: with trade an (...)
  • 33  Even though the British were officially hostile towards Sweden, they still did trade with this cou (...)
  • 34  The Lüneburg salt works profited from the embargo and had high production and profits in the years (...)
  • 35  Uwe Meißner, “Die Gründung und der Ausbau der königlich preußischen Salinen Schönebeck und Halle a (...)
  • 36  This has received little attention in historical research, and thus the literature is scant to non (...)

17In 1714 and 1715 merchants from Amsterdam had made an immense effort to benefit from the state of neutrality in the Baltic and to monopolize the salt export trade from Portugal to this region.32 By buying up all available salt, they hoped that the Baltic countries would be forced to contend with high prices on the Amsterdam market. This explains the high numbers of Dutch ships passing the Sound in these two years. However, the Baltic and Northern European market was soon saturated. Worse, the high prices could not be sustained since British competition remained stronger than expected33 and various other sources of salt were still available to the Baltic countries, for example from Lüneburg34 or from Prussia via Königsberg.35 The Algerian declaration of war, which caused a strong rise in insurance rates on shipping, thus came on top of an already precarious situation, attested to by the many bankruptcies of Amsterdam merchant houses in or shortly after 1715.36

  • 37  Jaap Bruijn, De Admiraliteit van Amsterdam in rustige jaren 1713-1751, Amsterdam, Scheltmema & Hol (...)
  • 38  Cornelis Cau, Groot Plakaet Boek. Deel 5, The Hague, Scheltus, 1725, p. 1492-1496. Zeeland was aga (...)

18In 1716, the Dutch had to face the fact that their shipping activities in Southern European waters had been marginalized. To counter this catastrophe, the States-General sent a squadron of three warships into the Mediterranean in 1717 to hunt Algerian corsairs and protect Dutch ships.37 Even though the warships could not catch any corsairs, they were nevertheless capable of protecting Dutch merchant ships, none of which was lost that year. In September 1717, old regulations for navigation in the Mediterranean were renewed, officially because of the broken peace by Morocco and Algiers. Sailing in packs of armed ships with a minimum number of sailors and weapons was now mandatory for any Dutch vessel sailing to or from these waters.38

  • 39  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 65; ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 693 (...)
  • 40  The losses consisted of seven ships (120 sailors) in 1718, nine ships (234 sailors) in 1719 and ni (...)
  • 41  Paul Masson, Histoire du commerce…, op. cit., p. 395; Alfred Wood, A History of the Levant Company(...)

19The following year, Dutch southbound shipping was already faring better, and intense attempts were made to reach peace with the Algerians via the mediation of the Sultan at Constantinople. The Algerians asked for an annual delivery of war materials for their ships, the ransom of all captured Dutch sailors and the issuance of a uniform passport in order to ensure that no Swedish, Danish or German ship could misuse these.39 The negotiations bore no fruit since the Dutch government refused to pay a ransom for enslaved sailors with public funds. In their eyes this duty fell on relatives and shipowners. Yet, the Republic did not send any new squadrons for three years from 1718 to 1720, perhaps hoping that the now better armed ships could defend themselves adequately when sailing together. But the strategy of waiting out the problem did not work. In these three years, the Dutch lost no fewer than 25 ships with 550 sailors to the Algerians and Moroccans.40 It was only thanks to Swedish privateers who hindered British shipping in the Baltic that Dutch southbound shipping could remain ahead of its main competitor. French shipping in Southern European waters, on the contrary, benefited greatly from the problems of France’s northern competitors.41

  • 42  The letter was printed: ARH, 3.01.20, Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

20The inactivity of the States-General caused resentment among shipowners and merchants. Harsh criticism swelled against the Republic’s leaders when the failure of the measures became obvious in 1720. When finally a letter from the Dutch consul in Livorno arrived in the United Provinces in October 1720, the merchants decided to gather together and urge the government to take a more aggressive stance. In his letter the consul gave a list of the latest captures. Among them there were many Dutch ships as well as some from Hamburg and Denmark. The consul underlined the necessity of peace, as the Algerians’ power was increasing with each new capture. In his opinion six warships were necessary to cruise close to Gibraltar in order to deter the Algerians from sailing into the Atlantic. The fleet, moreover, should occasionally escort Dutch merchant ships into the Mediterranean.42

  • 43  Walther Vogel, “Beiträge zur Statistik der deutschen Seeschiffahrt im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Tei (...)

21The merchants demanded that the consul’s suggestions be followed. A long memorandum was drafted and printed stating that 39 Dutch ships with 909 sailors (23.3 per ship on average) had been taken since 1714. The capital losses amounted to at least six million guilders; another million were deemed necessary as ransom payments for the sailors. However, this was not the main problem: The Republic had suffered much more from the decline of its shipping to Southern Europe. It had become necessary to man the ships with more sailors and to increase their salary. Thus, the Republic’s shipping had lost its competitiveness. The increase of Lübeck’s and Hamburg’s shipping to southern waters between 1717 and 1722 confirms this, as both profited from the weakness of their main rival.43

  • 44  The envisaged tariff was calculated following the insurance rules of Avarie grosse (general averag (...)
  • 45  See footnote 25.

22The merchants demanded the formation of a stock company, called a Rederye, to wage war against the corsairs. This company would finance a squadron of modern frigates in the Mediterranean. The yearly costs for maintaining the operations of such a fleet were estimated at 383,400 guilders; in the eyes of the merchants this was marginal in comparison to the current losses. Profits were to be made by a mixture of rewards for captures of enemies or liberation of Dutch ships. Also, all Dutch merchant ships bound for any European port south of Ushand (French Ouessant, a port close to Brest) should pay different duties to the company.44 Additionally, every sailor on every ship of the Republic, including ships of the two Indian companies, would have to pay one-twentieth of his wage for the Rederye, whereas officers would pay one-tenth. The liberation of all Dutch sailors (whether from merchant ships or warships) captured by the North Africans was also an important task for the Rederye. This was a social measure but it also aimed at securing a long-standing peace with the regencies, since the Algerians had used the slow Dutch ransoming as a pretext for declaring war on the Republic in 1715.45 An additional system of retirement provisions was envisaged, and the Rederye was to employ idle youths from the workhouses on their ships, just as Great Britain did.

23All in all, the Rederye was intended to bring about a large transformation in the navy of the Republic. New taxes on merchant shipping coupled with a vast range of rights and duties of the Rederye clearly were an important step towards nationalization and unification of the Republic’s naval system. Given that the decentralized system of five admiralties had not helped against the depredations of the Algerians, the merchants of Amsterdam demanded a change. The signatories primarily wanted to fight an efficient war against Algiers but also aimed at modernizing the naval organization of the Republic. The war against Algiers was in this regard important for achieving several goals and for overhauling the entire navy.

  • 46  [Anon.], Project oder Entwurf von einen Million Gülden… Zu Ausrottung und Vertilgung der türckisch (...)
  • 47  ARH, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459. On Schrijver see also Jaap Bruijn, De Adm (...)

24It is therefore not surprising that a protracted debate ensued. Proponents printed a description of the project with the clear intention of winning over large parts of the merchant community and the elites of the Republic. The text was translated into German and printed by an enthusiastic Hamburger who erroneously thought that the Dutch would also fight for Hanseatic interests.46 In the papers of Isaac van Hoornbeek, the Grand Pensionary of Holland from 1720 to 1727, there is a long handwritten document weighing arguments for and against each paragraph of the project (the pros being more frequent than the cons). Cornelis Schrijver, the main proponent of the Rederye, formulated the argument in favor while an unknown opponent, most likely from the admiralty of Amsterdam, provided the “critiques”.47

Image: The first page of the project

Image: The first page of the project

Source: Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

25Those in favor stated that the power of the Algerians had risen to fearful heights. Only a squadron of six to eight frigates, with 40-50 cannons each, could keep them in check. The admiralties would not be able to cover the expense; thus the country should bear the cost by installing a Rederye following loosely the model of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) or Dutch East India Company (VOC). The Rederye should be formed as a joint-stock company with 10,000 shares; the total capital should be one million guilders. This would suffice to finance the war. Moreover, the Rederye would redeem all Europeans taken on Dutch ships by the North Africans provided that they had defended themselves and respected the general regulations for sailors.

26The counter-arguments were rather straightforward. This war should be waged by the admiralties since such a Rederye would be non-transparent and even potentially dangerous for the diplomatic standing of the Dutch Republic. Also, it was doubted that this could really work: too few Algerian corsairs were to be caught. Finally, taxation on Dutch shipping elsewhere in the world could not be justified merely for the defense of the Mediterranean trade. Such an argument would have been unthinkable in Great Britain, but in a decentralized Republic particularism could and did play an important role, even in matters of national interest.

27The details of pros and cons were followed by nearly three pages of debate. Here again Schrijver justified the Rederye. He pointed out the grave situation of the Republic’s shipping and the current impuissance van s’Lands Zeemagt (weakness of the country’s sea power). He deemed it right to have one thousand shares himself as compensation for his hard work. The Rederye would not become uncontrollable since it would have to report regularly on its administration. Any mismanagement would have the same consequences as in Britain, where Parliament was making an example in the case of the South Sea Company. Schrijver responded sharply to the charge that the cities were not sufficiently present in the administration of the Rederye. According to him, the WIC had been a flourishing company for decades and of great use to the Republic. Its ruin had been caused by the interference of too many meede regenten (co-administrators).

  • 48  Krieken wrongly supposes that the merchants of Zeeland dominated; more correctly, the Hamburg tran (...)
  • 49  Helen Paul, The South Sea Bubble: An Economic History of its Origins and Consequences, London, Rou (...)
  • 50  Caspar Amsinck, “Die ersten hamburgischen Assecuranz-Compagnien und der Actienhandel im Jahre 1720 (...)
  • 51  See as a contemporary example Great Britain after the conclusion of the Union with Scotland: John (...)
  • 52  John Price, Holland and the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: The Politics of Particulari (...)

28The project was signed by 75 merchants and companies, mostly from Amsterdam, with Schrijver at the top.48 This was clearly an attempt to overcome one of the most anachronistic structures of the Republic, namely the division of the maritime administration into five admiralties. In 1720, the Amsterdam merchant elite was obviously very dissatisfied with the inefficiencies that had allowed the Algerians to prey undisturbed on Dutch ships for the past five years. Yet, their idea was not to unify the admiralties into a single one. Instead, they conceived a joint-stock company. This may well have been the rock on which the project foundered. That year, joint-stock companies had a bad reputation after the South Sea Bubble crisis in London.49 In Hamburg, the senate prohibited the formation of a joint-stock insurance company to prevent speculation.50 The Dutch merchants of 1720 were in this regard perhaps too nostalgic. The glory and power of the former WIC and the existing VOC blinded them to the reality of stronger centralization of power and administration at the state level in Western and Northern Europe.51 Had the merchants demanded unification of the admiralties, they might have succeeded. But in the form it was presented, the project could only give rise to fierce opposition by the current power-holders at the regional and local levels without gaining enough support from those in favor of a stronger centralized Republic.52

  • 53  On the operations of 1721 see the whole logbook of the admiral: ARH, 1.01.47.02, Admiraliteit, Som (...)
  • 54  Forty-six of them were sold into slavery in Spain, three officers were brought back to Holland for (...)
  • 55  ARH, 3.01.20, Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

29In the end the States-General rejected the project but implemented its military essence. The Republic decided to send a squadron of eight warships to Gibraltar to hunt North African corsairs. The admiralty of Rotterdam was to fit out two of these ships, Amsterdam four, Zeeland one and the Noorderquartier one. The costs were shared among each admiralty college. The Amsterdam admiralty was in charge. François van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck commanded the squadron, which began its operations around Gibraltar in 1721.53 Madrid approved of the Dutch action and helped by opening up Spanish harbors and giving naval assistance. Unfortunately, Dutch ships lacked speed, and therefore the results were disappointing in 1721. With Spanish aid, they destroyed three small Algerian ships on the Moroccan coast. Three Dutch ships were liberated and 50 Algerians captured.54 However, that same year, nine Dutch ships with 196 seamen were caught by the Algerians; the balance for this year was strongly negative for the Republic.55

  • 56  ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 3403, fol. 516v-520r.

30In 1721 a fierce debate broke out in the States-General about the role the United Provinces wanted to play in European politics. The deputy of Holland spoke strongly in favor of massively increased war efforts to obtain a peace treaty. Due to negligence and laziness, the United Provinces had declined, and a Republic that was once so powerful that it had defied the greatest sea powers was now exposed to blame and scorn because of the insults of a few Algerian Sea Rovers. Thus, its inhabitants faced either ruin or slavery. In the meantime trade and shipping, and consequently the influx of seafarers, were diverted to other nations, and once they were gone they would not easily come back.56

  • 57  Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy…, op. cit., p. 382-383; see also table above.
  • 58  Ernst Baasch, Hamburgs Convoyschiffahrt…, op. cit., p. 494-495; Magnus Ressel, “British Dominance (...)

31Perhaps the greatest blow Dutch shipping suffered from 1713 to 1745, the longest period of neutrality in eighteenth-century Europe, occurred in 1721-22. Until then British shipping had also remained rather weak in Southern Europe. The reversal of trends in 1722, when British shipping took over the lead, signaled the end of Dutch dominance in shipping to Southern Europe.57 It is therefore not surprising that the Dutch intensified their war efforts: the Mediterranean squadron was strengthened with a ninth ship in November 1723, the Wageningen, under the command of Cornelis Schrijver, the proponent of the 1720 project. It was a newly built frigate with the necessary speed to overtake the Algerian chebeks. With this ship, Schrijver caught an Algerian privateer in June 1724 and sank another one in October of the same year. From 1721 to 1724 the Dutch lost a total of 25 ships with 137 sailors to the Algerians and were in turn able to destroy four Algerian ships and take 167 Algerian captives. While the Algerians were usually sold as slaves in Spain, the Dutch captives filled the bagnos of Algiers. Faced with many losses even though the Dutch waged this war, the Hanseatics no longer dared to send ships to the Mediterranean. After 1725, much of Hamburg’s and Lübeck’s long-distance shipping was carried out in British vessels. The British now for the first time began to dominate the shipping markets of these two Hanseatic cities.58

Negotiations

  • 59  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 67; Archives Nationales de France, Paris ( (...)

32At the beginning of May 1724, negotiations took place between Algiers and the Dutch. However, in consideration of the insubstantial losses the Algerians had suffered during the war and the Dutch refusal to deliver war materials on an annual basis, these negotiations soon foundered.59 In 1725 the war took another turn for the worse for the Dutch, who captured two Algerian ships with 62 sailors, but lost ten ships with 76 men.

  • 60  A glance at traffic in the Sound is not too helpful for gauging the structural changes of shipping (...)

33The Dutch had to face the fact that the last ten years of conflict with Algiers had shaken the shipping activities of their Republic in one of its traditionally most profitable regions. In the meantime, the French had been able to take away a large slice of this market in the Levant, while the British had made inroads on the shipping lanes between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. At the beginning of 1726, Dutch shipping to Southern Europe was low, while British shipping in the rich trades boomed, having solidly recovered from the Bubble crisis.60 It seemed as if the war would not lead to a solution.

  • 61  Michael Serruys, “Oostende en de Generale Indische Compagnie. De opbloei en neergang van een kolon (...)

34However, the Dutch still had one important card to play. In these years the Austrian Company of Ostend was at its height and made great profits at the expense of the Western European powers.61 In 1725, after some pressure from the sea powers to disband the company, Austria had allied itself with Spain. The kingdoms of Prussia, Great Britain and France reacted to counter the aims of these two powers (the return of Gibraltar to Spain, international recognition of the Pragmatic Sanction in Austria, acceptance of the Ostend Company) and formed the League of Hanover on 3 September 1725. In the following months, both alliances tried to attract other powers to their cause. France and Great Britain tried fervently to get the Dutch Republic to join the League. For the Dutch this was an excellent opportunity to demand help against the Algerians in return.

  • 62  TNA, Admirality 71/6, without date or folio numbers.

35At the beginning of 1726, the States-General sent a six-page memorandum in French to France and Great Britain by. Its title was Considérations qui peuvent servir à donner des justes idées sur une Alliance défensive entre la France, la Grande-Bretagne, et les Etats Généraux, pour la sureté de la Navigation et Commerce contre les Algériens.62 According to it, natural law obliged all civilized peoples to join together and destroy barbarians who practiced piracy. Their “infame métier” (infamous business) consisted in never being at war with all European powers at once but rather at playing one off against the other. It was therefore a “devoir commun” (common duty) to purge the seas of them to maintain reciprocal commerce and communication among states. Yet, not only did the European powers sign peace treaties with these people who infected the ocean with their piracy, but they also included special clauses in intra-European treaties that expressly absolved them from any obligation to help the other party in case of attack by a North African power. Was it therefore surprising that the United Provinces demanded a defensive clause for reciprocal aid? No prince had ever claimed that a defensive alliance contradicted natural or international law. Nobody in Europe would deny that the barbarians’ conduct had given Europeans the right to free themselves from subjection. On the contrary, it was surprising how long the Europeans had let themselves be their dupes “par une jalousie de Commerce (for jealousy of trade).

36It was true, the memorandum continued, that the Algerian affair had nothing in common with the specific goal of the treaty of Hanover, but this alliance was expressly aimed at guaranteeing free commerce. Thus the United Provinces could justify inserting the matter into the treaty of Hanover. Having tried and failed for ten years to end this issue they saw no other means than to ally themselves with two kings who basically shared the same interest even though their subjects took advantage, at the moment, of the “interruption ou plustôt de la ruine totale d’une des principales branches du Commerce des Provinces Unies (interruption or rather the total ruin of one of the main branches of the United Provinces’ trade). If one added that the United Provinces were less interested than Great Britain in suppressing the Company of Ostend, their allies’ help in the Algerian affair would be a mark of consideration with which to reward the Dutch for their intervention concerning the Austrian Company. The demand ran as follows: the kings of Great Britain and France should help the Republic make peace with Algiers. If they were not successful, they should promise to make common cause against the regency. The present situation not only encouraged the Algerians to continue the war against the Dutch but even somehow forced them to do so, since they had no other significant potential prey than the Dutch in Mediterranean waters.

37With this long memorandum the Dutch made a very explicit request. Adherence to the treaty of Hanover was to be had only in exchange for substantial support by the two other great sea powers against the Algerians. The allegation that France and Britain had a secret understanding with the Algerians to destroy the Dutch was a sharp critique. Yet, for historians of today, this memorandum would sound much more credible had the Dutch not demanded the freedom of navigation which the negotiations aimed to withhold from the inhabitants of the Austrian Netherlands. It is interesting that the Dutch seemingly did not perceive their double standard.

  • 63  Johannes Cornelis de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche zeewezen. Vierde deel, Haarlem, Kru (...)
  • 64  James Chance, The Alliance of Hanover, London, Murray, 1923, p. 290-304.

38The British were at first taken by surprise and rejected this demand. They had thought at the beginning of 1726 that all difficulties caused by the Dutch joining the alliance had been settled, and now they found themselves faced with this new demand. It was unacceptable for them to break their hard-won and very advantageous treaties with the Barbary powers. Parliament would certainly have rejected any such move out of hand. The Dutch, however, ignored the British refusal. The British and French received this news in February with great indignation. In March or April the coalition intended to strike hard against the Ostend Company ships. Without the Dutch, this move would be very risky, but the Republic dragged out the negotiations over months. The emperor hoped that the enemies of the Ostend Company would soon divide over their significant differences and thus, in conjunction with Spain, he tried to break away the smaller continental powers, such as Hesse-Cassel, Prussia and the Dutch Republic. The Dutch were very much at odds with Britain, since Algerian corsairs had repeatedly taken refuge in Gibraltar or even hauled a Dutch prize into this harbor. The fact that an Algerian ship had been able to escape Sommelsdyk’s squadron precisely at this time by taking refuge in Gibraltar caused consternation in the Republic.63 Only in June was a compromise finally reached. The British closed their Mediterranean harbors to the Moroccans and Algerians and promised to join the Dutch war if peace could not be reached within one year.64

  • 65  TNA, State Papers 71/6, Letters of confirmation of these orders from the British consul at Algiers (...)
  • 66  TNA, State Papers 71/6, Letter dated 7 June 1726.
  • 67  ANF, Affaires étrangères, Correspondance consulaire Alger B1 Vol. 121, fol. 239-242.
  • 68  It may be remembered that proponents of the Rederye had calculated annual war expenses for the Rep (...)

39Yet, this proposal was kept secret, and nobody ever asked the opinion of Parliament. In 1725 and 1726 the British consul in Algiers received several orders to prevent Algerian ships from using Port Mahon or Gibraltar as a base or, as had occurred in the early 1720s, from sailing in the English Channel.65 The actual negotiations do not seem to have been strongly supported by the United Kingdom, according to reports by the British consul on the final peace talks between the Dutch and Algiers. He wrote that he was surprised by the conclusion of the peace, which had been possible through the mediation of a Jewish merchant.66 France had not been involved at all; the correspondence between Versailles and its Algerian consul does not mention the talks until the signing of the Dutch-Algerian treaty. We can therefore conclude that peace was achieved more by military might than by diplomacy. In spring 1726 the Dutch indeed had their greatest success of the entire war against Algiers when the Algerians lost three fully equipped battleships and were only able to capture five small Dutch merchant ships with few sailors. Faced with the eventuality of Britain and France entering into war – the closing of British harbors to their ships may have been regarded as a first step in this direction – and with the evident improvement of the Dutch means of warfare, the Algerians decided to settle with the Dutch. The French consul hints that the Dutch blockade of the Strait of Gibraltar had also been very harmful to the Algerians.67 In September 1726 the Dutch agreed to pay an annual tribute of war materials worth roughly 50,000 guilders in exchange for peace.68 Peace was ratified, and the Dutch duly paid their tribute for the rest of the century.

Peace

  • 69  ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 6939, letter dated 27 September 1726.

40In the end the Dutch had obtained their longed-for peace. The first letter from Ludwig Hameken, the newly installed Dutch consul at Algiers, mentions the most important steps to stabilize the peace. He demanded Mediterranean passports, since the Algerians “geen distincite tusschen Een Hollander weeten ofte Een Hamborger” (cannot distinguish between a Hollander and a Hamburger).69 He soon received such documents, and peace became the norm. However, in the end the result was not as profitable as expected. When Britain went to war against Spain (1727-1729), the Dutch managed to get ahead of their chief competitor. Yet the British merchants were now too well acquainted with the Mediterranean to be ousted by such a short interruption. After the war, British shipping into the Mediterranean surged ahead, and the Dutch were never again able to compete.

  • 70  Alfred Wood, A History…, op. cit., p. 144-145; Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy…, op. cit., p. 4024 (...)

41Thanks to the end of the war against Algiers, the Dutch remained a respectable player in the carrying trade to Southern Europe throughout the eighteenth century.70 This was certainly not negligible, but it was far from what the Dutch had striven for when they entered into a squadron war against Algiers. The hope in 1720 had been that a short war would knock the Algerians out and secure Dutch domination of the southern carrying trade. But in the bitter turn of events, they had to fight for years, endure losses of many merchant ships and see their competitors chip away at the Dutch share of trade to and within the Mediterranean.

  • 71  The evidence for this phenomenon is particularly strong in the case of Marseille. Here, it was onl (...)
  • 72  Jean-Pierre Filippini, Il porto di Livorno e la Toscana (1676-1814), Vol. I, Naples, Edizioni Scie (...)
  • 73  Jean-Pierre Filippini, “Considerazioni sull’attività del porto di Livorno durante il XVII e il XVI (...)
  • 74  Michele d’Angelo, “Mercanti inglesi a Livorno 1573-1796”, in Adriano Prosperi (ed.), Livorno 1606- (...)
  • 75  Margrit Schulte Beerbühl, Deutsche Kaufleute in London. Welthandel und Einbürgerung (1660-1818), M (...)
  • 76  Jonathan Israel, “The Dutch Merchant Colonies in the Mediterranean During the Seventeenth Century” (...)

42Meanwhile Great Britain had become well acquainted with shipping to and from this area. Many merchants along the German coast now chartered British rather than Dutch ships to have their goods carried southwards.71 While the Dutch had lost energy and money, the British had become a respected player in intra-European trade lines. This is particularly evident when looking at British shipping in Livorno, the chief staple hub for all Mediterranean trades. While an average of only 10.2 British ships coming from Northeastern Europe visited Livorno from 1715 to 1719, this number more than quadrupled to 41.2 from 1723 to 1727.72 British dominance in shipping between Northern Europe and Livorno was never threatened significantly again until the Revolutionary wars.73 Worse: The Dutch not only lost leverage in intra-European transport services but also in trade as a result of the downturn in their shipping activities. While the British became the dominant group of merchants in Livorno in the 1730s, the Germans (mostly from Hamburg) began to replace the Dutch merchants in the same years within the shared German-Dutch nation of Livorno.74 In other words, the Germans with the best connections to the Central-European hinterland met in Livorno with the British who offered cheap maritime freight. The reason for this is complex and shall only be sketched here: Not many eighteenth-century British merchants settled in central Europe, while German merchants eagerly emigrated to Great Britain.75 Thus, a strengthening of British mercantile domination in the European carrying trade was to the great advantage of the German merchant community all over Europe, thanks to their strong stakes in the British trades. In contrast, the Dutch, who had been strong in connecting both land and sea routes, now lost ground on land routes as a result of the structural hindrances relating to sea routes. For the Dutch, shipping had never been just about offering transport services to others; it had often been linked with the settlement of Dutch merchants in the most important ports of Europe.76

43British gains of market share in shipping and trade were made at a time when the Dutch were desperately fighting the Algerians. The strong shipping capacity that the British won in this decade of Dutch-Algerian conflict was an important boon to their economy precisely when Atlantic trade under the Union Jack began to attain heights hitherto unheard of. The Dutch-Algerian conflict can thus be counted as one of the most important factors that tilted the balance in favor of Great Britain in the competition between the two maritime powers and their national economies.

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Notes

1  The peacetime relations between Algiers and the United Provinces after 1726 have hitherto not been studied in detail. See Jan Garbrand Nanninga, Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis van den Levantschen Handel. 1726-1765. Derde Deel, The Hague, Nijhoff, 1952, p. 568-569; Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden: de betrekkingen tussen Algiers en Nederland 1604-1830, Amsterdam, De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1999, p. 72-96; also translated into French: Gérard van Krieken, Corsaires & marchands. Les relations entre Alger et les Pays-Bas, 1604-1830, Paris, Bouchène, 2002, p. 101-130.

2  This neglect has a tradition: in the nineteenth century there is surprisingly little in the standard maritime history accounts on the Dutch in the Mediterranean: Jacobus Johannes Backer Dirks, De Nederlandsche Zeemagt in Hare Verschillende Tijdperken Geschetst, Vol. 3, Nieuwediep, J. C. de Buisonjé, 1871, p. 194-197.

3  Jonathan Israel, one of the few authors who mention the “Algerian factor”, underestimated the importance of the Barbary corsairs when he highlighted the efficacy of the Dutch convoying system in his seminal article: Jonathan Israel, “The phases of Dutch straatvaart 1590-1713”, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, No. 99, 1986, p. 23. The Dutch convoys were competitive only when England was at war with the Barbary corsairs (1668-1671, 1678-1682). In times of English peace, the possibility for each shipper to safely sail individually was the decisive factor in winning the freighting market in Southern European waters.

4  Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 488.

5  On the relation of economic growth and the shipping industry in the early modern age see Richard Unger and Jan Lucassen, “Shipping, Productivity and Economic Growth”, in Richard Unger (ed.), Shipping and economic growth 1350-1850, Leiden, Brill, 2011, p. 3-44.

6  Jonathan Israel, “The phases…”, op. cit., p. 1-26; Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern…, op. cit., p. 13-40, 665-673.

7  On the concept of the information staple: Clé Lesger, Handel in Amsterdam ten tijde van de Opstand. Kooplieden, commerciële expansie en verandering in de ruimtelijke economie van de Nederlanden, ca. 1550-1630, Hilversum, Verloren, 2001, p. 209-249.

8  This was expressed as a basic rule of the Dutch Republic during its golden age, most famously in Pieter de la Court, Interest van Holland, ofte gronden van Hollands-Welvaren, Amsterdam, Cyprianus, 1662, especially chapter XLIV: “Hollands Interest geconsidereert ten respecte van alle zijne Naburen in het general”, p. 244-251; on the book and its author see Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 759-762.

9  Helmut Koenigsberger, “English Merchants in Naples and Sicily in the Seventeenth Century”, English Historical Review, No. 62, 1947, p. 319-324; Ralph Davis, The Rise of the English Shipping Industry, in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, London, Redwood Press, 1962, p. 18-19; David Ormrod, The rise of commercial empires. England and the Netherlands in the age of mercantilism, 1650-1770, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 282-285.

10  The history of international and joint convoying is still neglected by research. See Ernst Baasch, Hamburgs Convoyschiffahrt und Convoywesen. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Schiffahrt und Schiffahrtseinrichtungen im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, Hamburg, Friederichsen, 1896, p. 273-279; Anders Fossen, “Under det Tyrkiske Aag og Tyranni. Bergens sjøfart og Barbareskstatene ca. 1630-1845”, Sjøfartshistorisk Årbok, No. 14, 1979, p. 243-247; Ole Degn and Erik Gøbel, Skuder og kompagnier. Dansk søfarts Historie 2, 1588-1720, Copenhagen, Gyldendal, 1997, p. 89-93; Leos Müller, Consuls, corsairs, and commerce. The Swedish consular service and long-distance shipping 1720-1815, Uppsala, Uppsala universitet, 2004, p. 65-69.

11  On this complex topic see Robert Playfair, The scourge of christendom. Annals of British relations with Algiers prior to the French conquest, London, Smith, Elder, 1884, p. 80-86; Ludwig Beutin, Der deutsche Seehandel im Mittelmeergebiet bis zu den napoleonischen Kriegen, Neumünster, Wachholtz, 1933, p. 131-132; Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 12-64; Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 279, 402.

12  On the concept of “Free Ship–Free Goods” and its history, no comprehensive account has been written. For a good overview: Éric Schnakenbourg, Entre la guerre et la paix. Neutralité et relations internationales xviie-xviiie siècles, Rennes, PUR, 2013, p. 24-29, 76-111; see also Kinji Akashi, Cornelius van Bynkershoek: His Role in the History of International Law, The Hague, Kluwer Law, 1998, p. 96-129.

13  Godfrey Fisher, Barbary legend: War, trade, and piracy in North Africa, 1415-1830, Oxford, Clarendon, 1957, p. 230-239.

14  John Wolf, The Barbary Coast. Algiers under the Turks 1500 to 1830, New York, Norton, 1979, p. 309-338.

15  The French enjoyed a situation of peace (with brief interruptions) with the regencies from the early sixteenth century onwards. This allowed the French Mediterranean ports and its shippers to expand their range and profits substantially in the late seventeenth century, mostly after the peace of the Pyrenees: Paul Masson, Histoire du commerce français dans le Levant au xviie siècle, Paris, Hachette, 1896, p. 353-375; Daniel Panzac, La caravane maritime. Marins européens et marchands ottomans en Méditerranée, 1680-1830, Paris, CNRS, 2004, p. 178-183.

16  Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague (hereafter ARH), 1.01.02, Resoluties Staten Generaal, Nr. 162, 15 July 1662, letter from Consul van der Burgh from Messina; Nr. 166, 14 September 1663, the States-General on a protest from Madrid. I wish to thank Gerard van Krieken for providing information on these sources.

17  Gerard Brandt, Het leven en het bedrijf van den Heere Michiel de Ruyter, Amsterdam, Allart, 1687, p. 141-269; Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 39-46.

18  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 50-55.

19  Forty-nine Dutch ships coming from a Southern European harbor passed the Sound eastwards in 1685, thirty-six ships in 1686 and thirty-three in 1687; see Sound Toll Registers online (hereafter: STRO) at: http://www.soundtoll.nl.

20  Patrick Villiers, Les corsaires du littoral. Dunkerque, Calais, Boulogne de Philippe II à Louis XIV, 1568-1713, Villeneuve-d’Ascq, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2000, p. 254-340.

21  Jonathan Israel, “The phases…”, op. cit., p. 20-21.

22  The National Archives of the UK, London (hereafter TNA), Admirality 7/76, fol. 1-5.

23  Jean de Dumont, Corps Universel Diplomatique Du Droit Des Gens, Vol. V.1, Amsterdam, 1726-1731, p. 486; Klaas Heeringa, Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis van den Levantschen Handel. 1661-1726. Tweede Deel, The Hague, Nijhoff, 1917, p. 498; Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 25, 42, 54.

24  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 64; Klaas Heeringa, Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis…, op. cit., p. 499.

25  See table below.

26  Klaas Heeringa, Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis…, op. cit., p. 498-499, 553.

27  Gregorio Sánchez Doncel, Presencia de España en Orán, 1509-1792, Toledo, Estudio Teológico de San Ildefonso, 1991, p. 248-256.

28  Three ships (64 sailors) in 1714, seven ships (179 sailors) in 1715 and five ships (116 sailors) in 1716. ARH, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

29  Tito Benady, “The Settlement of Jews in Gibraltar, 1704-1783”, Transactions & Miscellanies of the Jewish Historical Society of England, No. 26, 1974-1978, p. 87-110; id., “Trade and Contraband in British Gibraltar in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”, in Carmel Vassallo and Michela D’Angelo (eds.), Anglo-Saxons in the Mediterranean, Malta, Malta University Press, 2007, p. 63-79.

30  According to Ralph Davis, in the eighteenth century the British Levantine trade was stagnant, while trade with Italy grew remarkably: Ralph Davis, The Rise…, op. cit., p. 242-256.

31  Based on STRO. The great majority of these ships were laden with salt; other important cargo items were colonial goods, wine and spices.

32  Erik Lindberg, “An 18th-century Swedish perspective on the Portuguese salt industry: with trade and production figures”, in Inês Amorim (ed.), I seminario internacional sobre o sal portugês, Porto, Instituto de historia moderna da Universidade do Porto, 2005, p. 184-186.

33  Even though the British were officially hostile towards Sweden, they still did trade with this country on a substantial scale: Erik Lindberg, “The Swedish Salt Market during the Great Northern War”, Scandinavian Economic History Review, No. 57/2, 2009, p. 200-202. STRO shows that the great majority of the British ships coming from Portugal and passing the Sound in the years 1713-1716 were laden with salt; after 1715 they often had Königsberg, the main loophole in the anti-Swedish blockade, as their official destination.

34  The Lüneburg salt works profited from the embargo and had high production and profits in the years 1713, 1715 and 1716; see Harald Witthöft, “Struktur und Kapazität der Lüneburger Saline seit dem 12. Jahrhundert”, Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, No. 63/1, 1976, p. 90.

35  Uwe Meißner, “Die Gründung und der Ausbau der königlich preußischen Salinen Schönebeck und Halle am Anfang des 18. Jahrhunderts”, in Werner Freitag (ed.), Halle und das Salz. Eine Salzstadt in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit, Vol. 2, Halle (Saale), MDV, 2002, p. 79-95.

36  This has received little attention in historical research, and thus the literature is scant to non-existent. However, a Swedish contemporary observer of the salt trades, Anders Bachmanson (pseudonym: Nordencrantz), commented on the spectacular failure of this Dutch attempt: Anders Nordencrantz, Arcana oeconomiæ et commercii, eller Handelens och hushåldnings-wärkets hemligheter, Stockholm, Horrn, 1730, p. 353.

37  Jaap Bruijn, De Admiraliteit van Amsterdam in rustige jaren 1713-1751, Amsterdam, Scheltmema & Holkema, 1970, p. 26-27.

38  Cornelis Cau, Groot Plakaet Boek. Deel 5, The Hague, Scheltus, 1725, p. 1492-1496. Zeeland was against the motion.

39  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 65; ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 6935, Letter from Adrianopel to Algiers, 31 January 1717.

40  The losses consisted of seven ships (120 sailors) in 1718, nine ships (234 sailors) in 1719 and nine ships (196 sailors) in 1720, all listed in ARH, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459. Convoys obviously did not undermine the Algerian strategy of attacking with their chebeks, a kind of galley with sails and manned with hundreds of soldiers, which gave them overwhelming numerical superiority. On this strategy see Magnus Ressel, Zwischen Sklavenkassen und Türkenpässen. Nordeuropa und die Barbaresken in der Frühen Neuzeit, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2012, p. 24.

41  Paul Masson, Histoire du commerce…, op. cit., p. 395; Alfred Wood, A History of the Levant Company, London, Oxford University Press, 1935, p. 139-142.

42  The letter was printed: ARH, 3.01.20, Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

43  Walther Vogel, “Beiträge zur Statistik der deutschen Seeschiffahrt im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Teil I”, Hansische Geschichtsblätter, No. 53, 1928, p. 143; Magnus Ressel, Zwischen Sklavenkassen…, op. cit., p. 467.

44  The envisaged tariff was calculated following the insurance rules of Avarie grosse (general average): The sum of 5,000 guilders was taken as a base; 5 percent (250 guilders) of this sum was to be paid if the destination of the ship was within the Mediterranean, 3 percent (150 guilders) if it was between Ouessant and Gibraltar and 2 percent (100 guilders) if it was north of Ouessant. The reason for this was that any captain was usually insured with 5,000 guilders at these rates, and this sum would now allegedly be saved in the future.

45  See footnote 25.

46  [Anon.], Project oder Entwurf von einen Million Gülden… Zu Ausrottung und Vertilgung der türckischen See-Räuber aus Algier, Tunis, Tripoly und Salée, Hamburg, Piscator, 1721.

47  ARH, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459. On Schrijver see also Jaap Bruijn, De Admiraliteit…, op. cit., p. 29.

48  Krieken wrongly supposes that the merchants of Zeeland dominated; more correctly, the Hamburg translator stressed the domination of Amsterdam merchants: Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 66; see footnote 47.

49  Helen Paul, The South Sea Bubble: An Economic History of its Origins and Consequences, London, Routledge, 2011.

50  Caspar Amsinck, “Die ersten hamburgischen Assecuranz-Compagnien und der Actienhandel im Jahre 1720”, Zeitschrift des Vereins für Hamburgische Geschichte, No. 9, 1894, p. 465-494.

51  See as a contemporary example Great Britain after the conclusion of the Union with Scotland: John Robertson, “Union by Incorporation. England, Scotland and Ireland 1603-1801”, in Thomas Fröschl (ed.), Föderationsmodelle und Unionsstrukturen. Über Staatenverbindungen in der frühen Neuzeit vom 15. zum 18. Jahrhundert, Munich, Oldenbourg, 1994, p. 104-118.

52  John Price, Holland and the Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century: The Politics of Particularism, Oxford, Clarendon, 1994.

53  On the operations of 1721 see the whole logbook of the admiral: ARH, 1.01.47.02, Admiraliteit, Sommelsdyk II-12. According to Jaap Bruijn this has been analyzed in a PhD dissertation, which could not be located: Jaap Bruijn, De Admiraliteit…, op. cit., p. 27.

54  Forty-six of them were sold into slavery in Spain, three officers were brought back to Holland for future exchange against Dutchmen and one was liberated in exchange for the promise to obtain the liberation of a specific Dutch sailor.

55  ARH, 3.01.20, Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.

56  ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 3403, fol. 516v-520r.

57  Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy…, op. cit., p. 382-383; see also table above.

58  Ernst Baasch, Hamburgs Convoyschiffahrt…, op. cit., p. 494-495; Magnus Ressel, “British Dominance of Merchant Shipping between Northern and Southern Europe, 1720-1750”, International Journal of Maritime History, No. 25/2, 2013, p. 117-142.

59  Gerard van Krieken, Kapers en kooplieden…, op. cit., p. 67; Archives Nationales de France, Paris (hereafter: ANF), Affaires étrangères, Correspondance consulaire Alger B1, Vol. 121, fol. 162-166.

60  A glance at traffic in the Sound is not too helpful for gauging the structural changes of shipping in these years. Overall shipping through the Sound increased from 1,943 ships in 1719 to 3,014 in 1722 and to 4,153 in 1725. The respective shares of Dutch and British shipping were 54 percent and 28 percent in 1719, 40 percent and 23 percent in 1722 and 46 percent and 18 percent in 1725 (STRO). However, the rise of shipping from the United Provinces was due mostly to an increase of small Frisian vessels through the Sound; see Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy…, op. cit., p. 380.

61  Michael Serruys, “Oostende en de Generale Indische Compagnie. De opbloei en neergang van een koloniale handelshaven (1713-1740)”, Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis, No. 24/1, 2005, p. 43-51.

62  TNA, Admirality 71/6, without date or folio numbers.

63  Johannes Cornelis de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche zeewezen. Vierde deel, Haarlem, Kruseman, 1861, p. 132-137.

64  James Chance, The Alliance of Hanover, London, Murray, 1923, p. 290-304.

65  TNA, State Papers 71/6, Letters of confirmation of these orders from the British consul at Algiers, dated 10 November 1725, 7 July 1726, and 16 August 1726.

66  TNA, State Papers 71/6, Letter dated 7 June 1726.

67  ANF, Affaires étrangères, Correspondance consulaire Alger B1 Vol. 121, fol. 239-242.

68  It may be remembered that proponents of the Rederye had calculated annual war expenses for the Republic at 383,400 guilders; thus the tribute saved the Republic seven-eighths of the costs while reopening an important market for shipping.

69  ARH, 1.01.02, Staten Generaal, Nr. 6939, letter dated 27 September 1726.

70  Alfred Wood, A History…, op. cit., p. 144-145; Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy…, op. cit., p. 402403.

71  The evidence for this phenomenon is particularly strong in the case of Marseille. Here, it was only in the second half of the eighteenth century that the Dutch were able to again compete with British shipping; see Charles Carrière, Négociants marseillais au xviiie siècle. Contribution à l’étude des économies maritimes, Marseille, Institut historique de Provence, 1973, p. 495-501.

72  Jean-Pierre Filippini, Il porto di Livorno e la Toscana (1676-1814), Vol. I, Naples, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 1998, p. 44.

73  Jean-Pierre Filippini, “Considerazioni sull’attività del porto di Livorno durante il XVII e il XVIII secolo”, in Adriano Prosperi (ed.), Livorno 1606-1806. Luogo di incontro tra popoli e culture, Turin, Umberto Allemandi, 2009, p. 294.

74  Michele d’Angelo, “Mercanti inglesi a Livorno 1573-1796”, in Adriano Prosperi (ed.), Livorno 1606-1806…, op. cit., p. 357-358; Godefridus J. Hoogewerff, “De Nederlandsch-Duitsche Gemeente te Livorno en haar kerkhof”, Mededelingen van het Nederlandsch Historisch Instituut te Rome, No. 7, 1927, p. 147-182.

75  Margrit Schulte Beerbühl, Deutsche Kaufleute in London. Welthandel und Einbürgerung (1660-1818), Munich, Oldenbourg, 2006, p. 57-58, 402-404.

76  Jonathan Israel, “The Dutch Merchant Colonies in the Mediterranean During the Seventeenth Century”, Culture, Theory and Critique, No. 30/1, 1986, p. 87-108.

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Crédits Source: Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, 3.01.20 - Isaac van Hoornbeek (1720-1727), Nr. 459.
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Magnus Ressel, « The Dutch-Algerian War and the Rise of British Shipping to Southern Europe (1715-1726) », Cahiers de la Méditerranée, 90 | 2015, 237-255.

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Magnus Ressel, « The Dutch-Algerian War and the Rise of British Shipping to Southern Europe (1715-1726) », Cahiers de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 90 | 2015, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2015, consulté le 26 août 2016. URL : http://cdlm.revues.org/8011

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Auteur

Magnus Ressel

Magnus Ressel is assistant professor of early modern history at the University of Frankfurt. He defended his PhD on the relations of Northern Europe with the Barbary corsairs at the University of Munich and Sorbonne I. In 2012 he was granted a fellowship by the Humboldt Foundation for research at the University of Padua. He is currently writing a book on the German merchant community in eighteenth-century Venice. He has published mostly on economic history, maritime history, the history of slavery and slave ransoming from Northern Africa in the early modern age. See among other: Zwischen Sklavenkassen und Türkenpässen. Nordeuropa und die Barbaresken in der Frühen Neuzeit (Berlin/New York, 2012); and “Protestant Slaves in Northern Africa during the Early Modern Age”, in Simonetta Cavaciocchi (ed.), Schiavitù e servaggio nell’economia europea (Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica F. Datini, Florence 2014, p. 523-535).
Ressel@em.uni-frankfurt.de

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