For becoming rich in the Dutch Golden Age it was sound planning to being born at the right time in the right cradle, to get and then education and to proceed with shrewd financial dealings and investments. Most of all it was a matter of intelligent management of social capital, family alliances, arranging good marriages between partners born to the best families of the right faith. Trade, politics and finance went hand in hand. Up to 1750 the bankers in London looked towards Amsterdam to learn the best ways of dealing in financial investments and contracts.
How did it become a 'brother-in-law' society? As women stood a fair chance (around 8%) of actually dying when giving birth each time, and many women gave birth more than 5 to 10 times during a marriage due to high infant mortality, women were a problem in terms of long-term family life. The most promising and important alliances were thus made in the business world of males, that of fathers, uncles, brothers, cousins and brothers-in-law. When on the rise in Amsterdam politics and powerful, these males could disperse official functions, like becoming 'harbor master', to family members and friends. Along with the functions came some actual day to day work and lots of annual pay. One could farm out the actual work and keep the pay. Nepotism was the catchword.
Being born a Roman Catholic or converting to Roman Catholicism was certainly a bad career move, as after the 1570's functions in city government and important boards and functions were exclusively distributed among Calvinists (and French protestants). Roman Catholics were suspect as being allied to the enemy, the King of Spain. The Dutch Republic was started in a revolution against this King of Spain. Being born female was also a bad move, certainly in terms of affairs and politics, as there were only open to males born in the right political factions, obviously with the right religion.
The Amsterdam rich, masters of world trade, were indeed filthy rich. They were on top of the world and they advertised their economic prowess and stability by buying real estate, especially on the most expensive canal, the Herengracht. This canal was exclusively designed to show off status and wealth. Real estate buyers easily paid twice the value of empty lots and buildings on the Herengracht, compared to that on the neighbouring canals. Those other canals were built to do active trade and to offload and store commercial goods. We will therefore mainly walk the Herengracht and other important residential canals to review the lives of these successful burghers, kings of the trade empire that was the Dutch Republic.
Generally for small groups of 1-4 persons in Amsterdam 60 EUR per hour. Contact me for information on higher amounts with other venues and more people.
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Europe Netherlands History Whiz Archeology/History Sightseeing
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