Book Series Comparative Rural History Network- Publications, vol. 4

Peasants into Farmers?

The Transformation of Rural Economy and Society in the Low Countries (Middle Ages - 19th Century) in Light of the Brenner Debate

P. Hoppenbrouwers, J. Luiten van Zanden (eds)

  • Pages: 338 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2001

Out of Print
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-51006-4
  • Paperback
  • Out of Print
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53731-3
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume aims to prove the decisive role Flanders and Holland played in the economic development of Europe in the light of Brenner's model.


"This volume is an important achievement and a significant step forwards in the scholarly knowledge of social and economic history in the Netherlands." (Jan Dumolyn in Historical Materialism, p. 247-259, 2004, Vol.12, n°1)


Since his pioneering article in 1976 the American historian Robert P. Brenner has tried to come to terms with an issue that has puzzled historians for generations: how can we explain the differences in growth-patterns of North Western European countries in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. In a frontal attack on both the '(homeostatic) demographic' and 'commercialization' models, Brenner traced the roots of the divergent evolutions back to rural and feudal 'social-property relations'. In the debate that immediately followed Brenner's first article, and in subsequent exchanges, the Low Countries were sorely neglected, although areas such as Flanders and Holland played a decisive role in the economic development of Europe. This was partly due to a lack of publications on Dutch rural history in foreign languages. This volume aims to fill this lacuna. It draws upon substantial research, and confronts the Brenner thesis with new results and hypotheses; and it contains a powerful and detailed response by Brenner himself. The editors. Peter Hoppenbrouwers (1954) is professor of medieval history at the University of Amsterdam. Jan Luiten van Zanden (1955) is part-time professor of economic and social history at the University of Utrecht, research fellow at the International Institute for Social History (IISG) in Amsterdam, and general secretary of the International Association of Economic History.