Proposal preview

Factor Costs in the Expansion of Pre-Modern Ocean Shipping: Labor, Capital, and Knowledge Transfer, 1300-1700

These sessions explore methods of determining factor costs in ocean shipping in the medieval and early modern era when shipping was the most crucial industry in creating the first wave of globalization. The papers aim to address three challenges in particular. One is to identify, categorize, and prioritize exactly which resources were involved in the pre-modern shipping industry, when few ships were above 500 tons, a significant proportion of mariners were not full-time, and long-haul voyages were far less frequent than short coastal hops. What changes occurred from the fourteenth to seventeenth century and were there significant regional differences that should be taken into account? Two is to surmount the paucity of appropriate data in this period by finding relevant sources, devising proxy measures, and establishing ways of using digital methods to exploit what is available, both to assess individual factors of production (such as maritime manpower and investment in shipbuilding) and to calculate the larger productivity of ocean shipping over time. To what extent did developments in this period lay the groundwork for or witness the well-known rise in productivity in ocean shipping from the fifteenth century onwards? The third challenge is to assess the role of social, technological, and political factors—including the organization of seamen, investment strategies in shipbuilding, the transmission of technological improvements in the design and construction of ships, and the impact of government policies—on the efficiency of shipping.

Richard W. Unger, University of British Columbia. Factor mobilization in shipbuilding from the high middle ages to 1700
David Igual Luis, Univ of Castilla-La Mancha. Ships in medieval Valencia: between local construction and the acquisition of foreign resources
Jan Bill, University of Oslo. Cost factors as drivers in Scandinavian shipbuilding 1200-1600 – indications in the archaeological evidence
Amélia Polónia, University of Porto. Shipping and empire building: the naval logistics of Portuguese overseas expansion (15th- 16th centuries)
Catia Antunes, Leiden University. European shipbuilding outside of Europe: problems, questions and curious hypotheses
Amélia Aguiar Andrade, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. The impact of royal strategies on the efficiency of shipping. Portugal in the European context(14th-15th)
Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and Catia Antunes, Leiden University. Freight costs as a proxy for assessing investment in the Atlantic shipping: a case-study based on the Amsterdam notarial acts, 1580s-1700s
Maryanne Kowaleski, Fordham University. Mariners and labor costs in medieval England
Jelle van Lottum and Petram Lodewijk, Huygens ING, Amsterdam. Labor, skills and the international maritime labor market in late seventeenth-century Europe

Organizer(s)

  • Maryanne Kowaleski Fordham University kowaleski@fordham.edu USA
  • Richard W. Unger Univ. of British Columbia Richard.unger@ubc.ca Canada

Session members

  • David Igual Luis, Univ. of Castilla-La Mancha
  • Amélia Polónia, University of Porto
  • Cátia Antunes, Leiden University
  • Amélia Aguiar Andrade, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • Filipa Reibero da Silva, International Institute of Social HIstory, Amsterdam
  • Maryanne Kowaleski, Fordham University
  • Jelle van Lotum, Huygens ING, Amsterdam
  • Lodewijk Petram, Huygens ING, Amsterdam

Discussant(s)

Papers

Panel abstract

These papers address three challenges in exploring methods of determining factor costs in ocean shipping in the medieval and early modern era when shipping was the most crucial industry in creating the first wave of globalization. One is to identify, categorize, and prioritize which resources were involved in the shipping industry when few ships were above 500 tons, most mariners were not full-time, and long-haul voyages were less frequent than coastal hops. Two is to overcome the paucity of appropriate data by finding relevant sources, devising proxy measures, both to assess individual factors of production (such as maritime manpower and investment in shipbuilding) and to calculate the productivity of ocean shipping. The third is to assess the role of social, technological, and political factors—including the organization of seamen, investment strategies in shipbuilding, the transmission of technological improvements, and the impact of government policies—on the efficiency of shipping.

1st half

The impact of royal strategies on the efficiency of shipping. Portugal in the European context(14th-15th)

Amélia Aguiar Andrade, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

With the end of the Portuguese Reconquista in the second half of the thirteenth century, Portugal’s commercial contacts between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean resumed, and enthused the monarchs to consider overseas trade and maritime connections as an important element in the kingdom’s strategy of consolidation and assertion. As part of this strategy, Portugal developed shipbuilding and competences in the art of shipping, which would reveal utterly important for the voyages of exploration in the southern Atlantic in the fifteenth century. This paper aims at discussing this strategy by taking into consideration political, economic and cultural contexts of the Portuguese coastal space.

With the end of the Portuguese Reconquista in the second half of the thirteenth century, Portugal’s commercial contacts between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean resumed, and enthused the monarchs to consider overseas trade and maritime connections as an important element in the kingdom’s strategy of consolidation and assertion. As part of this strategy, Portugal developed shipbuilding and competences in the art of shipping, which would reveal utterly important for the voyages of exploration in the southern Atlantic in the fifteenth century. This paper aims at discussing this strategy by taking into consideration political, economic and cultural contexts of the Portuguese coastal space.

Ships in medieval Valencia: between local construction and the acquisition of foreign resources

David Igual Luis, Univ of Castilla-La Mancha

he development of Valencia from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century allowed the city to occupy a remarkable position in the maritime routes that passed through the eastern Iberian coast. This was due to the use made of the port of Valencia by ships from different origins: from the rest of the Crown of Aragon (mainly Catalans and Majorcans), from northern Italy, from Castile or from Valencia itself. In the case of larger vessels, local participation was minor, although not non-existent. Valencian agents obtained these ships through the labour in the urban shipyards, frequently promoted by the municipality, but also thanks to the acquisition of foreign ships. The aim of the paper is to analyze this double way of naval resources and its economic impact especially during the fifteenth century, when Valencia has more abundant and diversified sources to study the subject

he development of Valencia from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century allowed the city to occupy a remarkable position in the maritime routes that passed through the eastern Iberian coast. This was due to the use made of the port of Valencia by ships from different origins: from the rest of the Crown of Aragon (mainly Catalans and Majorcans), from northern Italy, from Castile or from Valencia itself. In the case of larger vessels, local participation was minor, although not non-existent. Valencian agents obtained these ships through the labour in the urban shipyards, frequently promoted by the municipality, but also thanks to the acquisition of foreign ships. The aim of the paper is to analyze this double way of naval resources and its economic impact especially during the fifteenth century, when Valencia has more abundant and diversified sources to study the subject

Shipping and empire building: the naval logistics of Portuguese overseas expansion (15th- 16th centuries)

Amélia Polónia, University of Porto

Crown policies and private enterprise combined to increase efficiency levels in Portuguese overseas expansion. Within this framework, the paper will emphasize three points. 1. The dependence of the Portuguese empire on shipping efficiency; while the debate is mostly focused on shipbuilding, we will show how crown policies and individual enterprise adapted to the evolving requirements of a sea power based empire. 2. How informal and self-organized mechanisms at times contributed and sometimes blockaded state-oriented policies. 3. How local inputs, e.g. related to raw materials, the labor force and techniques, contributed to efficiency levels implemented within a universe that became multi-continental.

Crown policies and private enterprise combined to increase efficiency levels in Portuguese overseas expansion. Within this framework, the paper will emphasize three points. 1. The dependence of the Portuguese empire on shipping efficiency; while the debate is mostly focused on shipbuilding, we will show how crown policies and individual enterprise adapted to the evolving requirements of a sea power based empire. 2. How informal and self-organized mechanisms at times contributed and sometimes blockaded state-oriented policies. 3. How local inputs, e.g. related to raw materials, the labor force and techniques, contributed to efficiency levels implemented within a universe that became multi-continental.

European shipbuilding outside of Europe: problems, questions, and curious hypotheses

Catia Antunes, Leiden University

During the 17th century, the Atlantic becomes the most intensively explored maritime space by Europeans. Although historiography has stressed the importance of the Atlantic trades for African, American and European economies and societies, European investment in the Atlantic trading routes is still unknown. In this paper we use freight costs assembled through notarial deeds of Amsterdam as proxy to assess the investment in Atlantic shipping. This assessment will serve as a first step towards an in-depth analysis of the turn-over of the different shipping routes where Europeans were involved in order to reassess the earnings of local, regional and intercontinental routes. This assessment will shed light on the entrepreneurial choices of different investors and the way their portfolios developed across time and space.

During the 17th century, the Atlantic becomes the most intensively explored maritime space by Europeans. Although historiography has stressed the importance of the Atlantic trades for African, American and European economies and societies, European investment in the Atlantic trading routes is still unknown. In this paper we use freight costs assembled through notarial deeds of Amsterdam as proxy to assess the investment in Atlantic shipping. This assessment will serve as a first step towards an in-depth analysis of the turn-over of the different shipping routes where Europeans were involved in order to reassess the earnings of local, regional and intercontinental routes. This assessment will shed light on the entrepreneurial choices of different investors and the way their portfolios developed across time and space.

2nd half

Mariners and labor costs in medieval England

Maryanne Kowaleski, Fordham University

This paper offers data on what mariners were paid for their work at sea from c. 1300 to 1540 by tracking variations in money wages, bonuses, and non-cash incentives and payments on fishing craft, trading vessels, naval service, and privateering and piracy. It also attempts to provide some data on the relative numbers of mariners involved in each of these labor sectors, though the tendency for medieval mariners to be engaged in more than one type of maritime work makes this exercise hazardous. Each of these labor sectors reacted differently to the higher costs of the post-plague period; for example, money wages rose for crews on trading ships, but bonuses and a greater share of spoil were employed more often on naval and privateering ventures. Far less is known about changes in remuneration on fishing craft, even though marine fishing probably represented the largest employer of seamen in medieval England.

This paper offers data on what mariners were paid for their work at sea from c. 1300 to 1540 by tracking variations in money wages, bonuses, and non-cash incentives and payments on fishing craft, trading vessels, naval service, and privateering and piracy. It also attempts to provide some data on the relative numbers of mariners involved in each of these labor sectors, though the tendency for medieval mariners to be engaged in more than one type of maritime work makes this exercise hazardous. Each of these labor sectors reacted differently to the higher costs of the post-plague period; for example, money wages rose for crews on trading ships, but bonuses and a greater share of spoil were employed more often on naval and privateering ventures. Far less is known about changes in remuneration on fishing craft, even though marine fishing probably represented the largest employer of seamen in medieval England.

Labor, skills and the international maritime labor market in late seventeenth-century Europe

Jelle van Lottum, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands Lodewijk Petram, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands Rutger van Koer, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands Heerman van Voss, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands Richard Zijdeman, Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands

By focusing on job mobility of native and migrant seamen, in our paper we seek to investigate the economic contribution of migrant workers in the Dutch maritime labor market. To do so we will reconstruct the careers of migrant and native seamen who sailed for the Dutch East India Company in the late 17th and 18th century. We apply innovative semi-automatic methods for record linkage (using measures of name similarity and subsequently applying date rules and geo-grouping candidate matches) to identify those individuals in the c. 775,000 enlistment records who during their careers experienced promotion. Subsequently, by analyzing the quantity and quality of their promotions, we seek to lay bare the extent to which human capital levels of migrants and native workers differed, and what opportunities for social advancement were available in the eighteenth century Dutch maritime labor market.

By focusing on job mobility of native and migrant seamen, in our paper we seek to investigate the economic contribution of migrant workers in the Dutch maritime labor market. To do so we will reconstruct the careers of migrant and native seamen who sailed for the Dutch East India Company in the late 17th and 18th century. We apply innovative semi-automatic methods for record linkage (using measures of name similarity and subsequently applying date rules and geo-grouping candidate matches) to identify those individuals in the c. 775,000 enlistment records who during their careers experienced promotion. Subsequently, by analyzing the quantity and quality of their promotions, we seek to lay bare the extent to which human capital levels of migrants and native workers differed, and what opportunities for social advancement were available in the eighteenth century Dutch maritime labor market.

Freight costs as proxy for assessing investment in Atlantic shipping - a case-study based on the Amsterdam notarial deeds, 1580s-1776

Catia Antunes, Leiden University and Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam

During the 17th century, the Atlantic becomes the most intensively explored maritime space by Europeans. Although historiography has stressed the importance of the Atlantic trades for African, American and European economies and societies, European investment in the Atlantic trading routes is still unknown. In this paper we use freight costs assembled through notarial deeds of Amsterdam as proxy to assess the investment in Atlantic shipping. This assessment will serve as a first step towards an in-depth analysis of the turn-over of the different shipping routes where Europeans were involved in order to reassess the earnings of local, regional and intercontinental routes. This assessment will shed light on the entrepreneurial choices of different investors and the way their portfolios developed across time and space

During the 17th century, the Atlantic becomes the most intensively explored maritime space by Europeans. Although historiography has stressed the importance of the Atlantic trades for African, American and European economies and societies, European investment in the Atlantic trading routes is still unknown. In this paper we use freight costs assembled through notarial deeds of Amsterdam as proxy to assess the investment in Atlantic shipping. This assessment will serve as a first step towards an in-depth analysis of the turn-over of the different shipping routes where Europeans were involved in order to reassess the earnings of local, regional and intercontinental routes. This assessment will shed light on the entrepreneurial choices of different investors and the way their portfolios developed across time and space