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Sources on the history of Levantine trade 1590-1826

Edited by K. Heeringa and J.G. Nanninga

The year 1590 was selected as the starting point for research into Dutch shipping and trade through the Straits of Gibraltar with countries situated around the Mediterranean. The archive of the States-General was the most important source of information for the study of this period until about 1625. Thereafter, a great deal of material for this documentary edition was obtained from the archives of the Levant Trade Authority [Directie van de Levantse handel] which was founded in 1625. This semi-official body represented the interests of private merchants who traded with the Mediterranean and was in charge of fitting out the ships and imposing taxes. The Levant Trade Authority was dissolved in 1826.

The publication is based on letters, memoirs, decrees, formal agreements and advisory notes from the archive of the Levant Trade Authority, the archive of the States-General, and from the archives of Dutch envoys in Constantinople and the consuls in the different ports of call in the Levant (Salonica, Smirna, Aleppo, Egypt and the ‘Barbary’ states), in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta and the Greek archipelago.

This four-volume documentary edition (six books in total) is essentially limited to a survey of the administrative organisation of Levantine trade. There are actually very few surviving sources for this period as most of them have been lost. The material presented includes statistical sources such as bills for taxes on outward bound ships and imported goods (respectively, a tax on shipping and freight duties) that were introduced by the Levant Trade Authority in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Middelburg, as well as bills for ‘embassy and consulate duties’ imposed in the Levant.