Moral Economy behind the Dikes

Class Relations along the Frisian and German North Sea Coast during the Early Modern Age*

Otto S. Knottnerus


From: Regional Implantation of the Labour Movement in Britain and the Netherlands. Paper presented at the Seventh British-Dutch Conference on Labour History, Groningen 1990 (= Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 18, Nr. 2, July 1992), pp. 333-352.


The Content of Tradition

Coastal Society: an Introduction

Contested Communities

Religious Transformations

The Burdens of Traditionalism



Rural conservatism has been a problem to social historians for many years. Ever since Charles Tilly wrote his Vendée most historians are aware that unruly peasants normally lack the revolutionary spirit they would have liked them to possess. Rural conservatism ‑ or rather traditionalism ‑ has been held to be responsible for several interruptions in the process of modernization. Its advocates couldafwijkend be blamed for delaying the establishment of the labour movement in many regions. Adherence to popular traditions may even have tended to serve the cause of conservatism.

Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936)
Frontcover of Uwe Carstens’
2005 biography

Historians and sociologists have normally taken these rural traditions for granted.[1] Following the trail set out by Ferdinand Tönnies they saw modern history as the breaking-up of traditional society under the pressure of intrusive market forces and outright state intervention. Likewise, labour historians depicted the implantation of the working-class movement as a breaking away from traditional patterns of authority and deference. Class-struggle made an end to many centuries of ignorance and enforced stability.

Here, a different view will be presented. Traditions and traditionalist ideologies should not be considered as the preface, but rather as the product of modern society. They represented purposeful and appropriate reactions to the increasing social mobility, taking place in a world where chances were still believed to be limited. The heyday of tradition, namely the 17th and 18th century, coincided with the birth pains of the modern world economy. Inherent in the delivery were profound social tensions which often led to violent outbursts. Tradition did not prevent these outbursts. They rather made them part of a public debate in which ancient privileges, common laws and eternal standards set the tone. Indeed, modernization had to make great strides, before people learned that enduring change was not only possible but also something to be pursued.

This point may need some clarification. Early modern man could not conceive of change as an ongoing process of growth and improvement. Rather, he saw one man’s gain as another man’s loss. The stakes being limited, the losers could only explain their fate by claiming that the other players got around the rules. Even in the few cases where there were no loosers (e.g. Holland and Britain), growth was to be sufficiently exceptional as to allow Providence to be the best explanation for increasing prosperity. ‘Change’, as Edward Thompson characterized 18th-century British society, ‘has not yet reached that point at which it is assumed that the horizons of each successive generation will be different’.[2]

In fact, the idea of progress did not gain a foothold anywhere before the turn of the 18th century. Only by then had large-scale industrialization and urbanization started to create societies in North-Western Europe which were ‘to live by and rely on sustained and perpetual growth, on an expected and continuous improvement’.[3] Moreover, as the idea spread from the highest circles downward, it met with considerable resistance. Potential victims clung to their memory of the past as they tried to combat the unfortunate consequences of modernization. A whole range of traditions, real or assumed, was brought into action against what seemed to be the outcome of forced plans and false projections.

In this respect, some traditions were more tenacious than others. Their varying capacities to absorbe social change may have been decisive in keeping a more dynamic world-view at bay. Of course, in the long run progress could not be halted, nor could its fruits be deniedafwijkend. By delaying the advance of liberalism, however, some forms of traditionalism prepared the ground for conservative world-views which were better able to cope with change.[4] As we will see, the labour movement’s failure to gain a foothold in certain regions may well be the result of such early attempts to resist change.

Typical Eiderstedt farm or ‘Haubarg’, built after
Dutch 17th-century examples. Tönnies was born
and raised as the son of a capitalist farmer
in the village of Oldenswort.

We will examine, then, one of the rural strongholds of early modern capitalism: the North Sea coastal marshes. As it happens, this region was the model which Tönnies had in mind when he describedgewijzigd a harmonious rural community (Gemeinschaft), ruled by tradition. Here actual modernization and presumed traditionalism got wrapped up in unique way. We will start with some general remarks about early modern traditionalism. Then, the social, economical and political conditions in the coastal marshes will be outlined in more detail. This will enable us to reinterprete many reports about local traditions and social tensions during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It is our claim that early modernization created a traditionalist ethos, which aimed at counteracting the unwanted consequences of modernity. The labour movement, in contrast, tried to break away from traditionalism. It could only do so, however, when liberalism had loosened the bonds of tradition already. Whereever liberalism was defeated at an early stage, socialism too, had little chance of success.

Students often misunderstood these traditional notions as they copied Tönnies’ opposition of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Of course, the implied dichotomy between the traditional countryside and the modern urban society has had its uses. It has been fundamental in many studies concerning rural modernization.[5] But in their own right, tradition and modernity can be rather vague and ever misleading concepts.

The Content of Tradition

Early modern society was marked by the ubiquity of traditions. All over Europe local communities had developed their own customs and world-views, governing the equitable distribution of scarce resources among their members, while at the same time excluding others.[6] It might even be argued that the more commercialized the region was, the more elaborate the pattern of apparently egalitarian rules, redistributive practices and symbolical boundaries which one should expect. Rich and poor needed one another. The rich required helping hands in times of labour scarcity, they wanted fighting fists to ensure that foreign workers did not hang around after the harvest, and, moreover, they constantly looking out for popular support in factional struggles. The poor, on the other hand, expected from their rich fellow citizens not only charitable gifts in cases of disablement and times of famine, but a just share in all heavenly blessings. Communication between rich and poor was highly ritualized, guided by elaborate rules of conduct which were thought to be very ancient, and indispensable. Thompson has called such traditions ‘the moral economy of the poor’, pointing out that they might account for the fact that in 18th-century England the poor were ‘not altogether the losers’.[7] Reference to invariable norms and values, publicly shared by all community-members, helped the nascent working class to mitigate the destructive influence which market forces began to exert on community life.

In a perceptive criticism of Thompson, Craig Calhoun has argued that it was the strength of these communal traditions, rather than class struggle, which largely accounted for what he has called the ‘reactionary radicalism’ of the early labour movement.[8] There is some thruth in that, but the fact remains that throughout the centuries agricultural communities as a rule have absorbed many changes without giving way to less traditional ways of thinking. Many findings rather suggest that communal world-views even grew in strength. Their foundations had been laid in the formation of parishes and commons, by christianisation, by land-reclamation and dike-building, and not by those ancient Germanic tribal bonds which earlier generations of historians had so eagerly presupposed. They found their main extention in an era when the modern state forbade arbitrary use of violence, and created a common political framework which treated local privileges as part of a larger juridical and moral order. Their most striking outgrowths occured at moments when literacy was already universal, and geographical mobility was becoming more common. Traditions formed the static front of a rapidly changing social fabric. ‘This, then, is a conservative culture in its forms’, but, Thompson insisted, ‘the content of this culture cannot so easily be described as conservative’.[9]

Coastal Society: an Introduction

Any student taking a deeper look at the history of the polderlands along the southern shores of the North Sea will be struck by the contrasting evidence of tradition and progress. This narrow belt of fertile marshland, stretching down from the Jutland heaths to the urban zones at the mouth of the Rhine and Meuse Rivers, extending upstream to the cities of Hamburg and Bremen, and enclosing the poverty-striken moors and bogs of the Westfalian and Lower Saxon hinterlands, has been the focus of much commercial activity for centuries.[10] Here extensive agricultural exports started as early as the 13th century, and reached a climax during the Thirty Years War.[11] Danish oxen were fattened for the Hamburg, Cologne and Amsterdam markets, grains were shipped to Amsterdam, France and Spain, dairy-products sent up the Elbe, Weser and Ems Rivers.[12] The large Frisian, Hanoverian and Holstein horses had a military reputation all over Europe. Though family-farms were the pattern, the local economy could not dispense with wage-labour. Unstable weather and critical soil conditions frequently restricted work to brief periods of the year, thereby causing seasonal labour shortages which were more serious than elsewhere. Each summer thousands of small peasants from inland areas marched to the coast where they served in the corn and hayharvest, earning the money which they took home in order to pay their rents and feudal dues.[13] More important yet were the numerous indigenous crofters and villagers. Their help was indispensable, for they mastered the special techniques of ditching, reaping and diking which the heavy clay-soils required.[14] But their numbers tended to shrink, as indigenous population growth came to a standstill during the general crisis of the 17th century, after the population had reached the relatively high level of 75 to 125 heads per square mile. The endemic malaria fevers which probably killed every fourth or fifth resident, delayed marriages on account of the economic depression, and increasingly restrictive sexual practices, all contributed to this fall in population.[15] Demands for wage labour, moreover, tended to swell, as most of the small family-farms gave way to larger ones because of falling agricultural prices and growing indebtedness due to wars, floods and cattle plagues.[16]

By the middle of the 18th century agricultural capitalism was beginning to make a decisive break-through. By then large-scale arable farms, ranging from 50 to 150 acres, had started to dominate the coastal scene. Each was employing 3 to 6 working-class families.[17] More hands were required to manage increasing outputs. Shortage of labour permitted the workers to negotiate higher wages, better meals and more costly perquisites. Several generations passed before the resumed population growth had been able to catch up with growing employment opportunities.[18]

The Napoleontic era brought another major shift in class relations. Rising grain prices forced the workers to change their diets from porridge and purchased bread to home-grown potatoes. This, in turn, eroded many bonds of patronage which linked the workers to the farmers’ home-economy: increasing dependence on their own crops turned the scale away from wages and perquisites. Moreover, as grain-exports enriched the farmers, most workers were not able to keep up with their master’s rising economic, cultural and educational standards, which drew them away from the traditional popular culture. ‘The small community had been broken up’, the Dutch sociologist E.W. Hofstee concluded in a famous study on one of the coastal regions: ‘At the end of the 18th century farmers and farm-workers were united. By the end of the 19th century we find two classes standing entirely apart, differing in manners of living and ways of thinking, in religious views and moralities, in leasure and enjoyment, in short, in everything in which two classes can be different’.[19]

For many centuries community-life had been characterized by the ubiquity of traditions, centering around customary forms of self-government, and branching out to almost every detail of social life. The coastal fringe had a long history of political privileges. Regional identity was ‘closely bound with the idea of liberty’, referring back to some ancient Frisian or yeomanry freedom which distinguished the coastal home-counties from the supposedly feudalized hinterlands.[20] During the Middle Ages about fifty or so more or less independent peasant republics under the rule of numerous local abbots, chiefs and podesta’s formed a rural counterpart of the free Hanseatic cities.[21] Many of them were Frisian. Colonists from Holland settled down in the peat-bogs along the Elbe and Weser Rivers. The rich fields were veined with waterways that gave free access to maritime commerce. The autonomous draining organisations provided the impetus for the development of strong military defence systemsgewijzigd. Moreover, the waterlogged terrain prevented surprises during the rainy seasongewijzigd, and made foreign military operations very difficult at any time. Not until the 15th and 16th century, and then only at great costs, were the territorial princes able to incorporate these affluent lands within their own meagre domains. They offered the ruling landowning and yeomen families extensive privileges in return for lump sum tax-payments. Up to the 19th century many forms of estate-like representation, and a massive local autonomy in common law and civil jurisdiction made the coastal provinces look like an oasis of civil liberties in a world of authoritarian rule.[22]titel Hughes controleren The inhabitants were, together with the English ‘the most free of any people in Europe’, the British radical Thomas Hodgskin wrote in 1820 from the shores of the Elbe: ‘The proprietors ... resemble very much in their hearty manners English farmers. In Hadeln, however, they are the principal people, while an English farmer is often of little importance. ... I have seen no place on the Continent ... that equals the Land Hadeln in the apparent happiness and prosperity of its people’.[23]

The Dutch provinces of Groningen and Friesland were somewhat of an exception to this scheme. Here the oligarchy of newly created landowning aristocracy and urban patricians who seized power during the 16th-century rebellion, had effectively succeeded in reducing the peasantry to tenants, and thereby monopolized provincial government. Also the Count of Oldenburg, as well as some local noblemen down the Elbe, began restricting the liberties of the peasants. In all cases the sequestration of extensive ecclesiastical properties during the reformation had turned the scale against the peasants. But here, too, more localized communal traditions remained widely in force. The wealthiest of the Groningen farmers began to make a gradual re-entry in public offices and regional parliaments from the middle of the 18th century, as leases were declared fixed and hereditary. Other farmers followed suit. They claimed to enjoy ‘more liberty than anywhere in the world’, because the landlords could not seize their riches anymore.[24] The Frisian and Oldenburg farmers made their re-appearance in public life during the 19th century.

Coastal privileges, of course, only applied to the property-owning members of the community. But many notions of coastal liberty undoubtedly trickled down to other strata. At the bottom of the social hierarchy these freedoms were probably defended even more rigorously than at the top. In an East-Frisian joke the boy, whose father is about to deliver a well-meant blow, cries out: ‘No, father, no, our country is a land of justice, not force!’[25] Foreign travellers, indeed, were astonished by the self-assurance of the East-Frisian servants and farm-workers, and their insistence on inherited rights and privileges. As early as 1736 the government reckoned with a boycott of farmers who complied to a newly declared ban on the workers’ habit of smoking in the barns.[26]gewijzigd. A fellow-countryman in 1820 denounced the stubborn resistance against any kind of reform as ‘hardly believable, and only to be explained by the fact that these people consider any innovation an interference with their ancient rights and liberties’.[27] In the other districts the situation was not too dissimilar.

The coastal population felt greatly superior to the upland dwellers. They were afflicted with a sort of self-conceit, often resulting in xenophobic reactions against outsiders. In another joke the boy who wants to see the world is scolded by his father: ‘Shame on you! Here you are in the marshes, the rest of the world is but heath!’ The migrant workers from the interior were despised throughout. They were called names, denounced as stinking, stupid and dumb, or even beaten up. Upland well-to-do freeholders were mocked by the local farm-workers as well as the farmers, who looked down on them ‘as the Southern hill-billy or redneck is looked upon by the planters’.[28] Even poor people from the North-Frisian marshes preferred to beg rather than participate in home industries as their poor neighbours of the heathlands did. They often refrained from saving, because they could rely on traditional alms givings and liberal poor relief to get them through the winter.[29]

Communal traditions and local patriotism, then, penetrated all the aspects of village life. ‘Folkways, mores and customary law ... rule the village community and the surrounding district. They represent the valid common will to which the people there, masters and servants alike, conform in their daily rounds and common tasks, because, in their belief, they are bound to do so. For their fathers did so before them, and everybody does so. And it seems to them the right thing, because it has always been that way’.[30] So Ferdinand Tönnies wrote in the 1880s, implicitly referring to his youth in the coastal district of Eiderstedt.

Obviously, for Tönnies communal traditions and agricultural capitalism were quite compatible. A recent biographer bluntly stated that ‘the self-contained autarchic household which Tönnies posits as the core of Gemeinschaft still prevailed’.[31] This is to mistake ideology for fact. Even for Tönnies the reality of community-life was not at all idyllic.

Contested Communities

Farm-workers on strike, Oldambt, Groningen 1929

(from J. Hilgenga, 40 jaren Nederlandse

Landarbeidersbond, 1940)

Social historians and rural sociologists have often confused communal ideologies with the communities to which they referred. Agricultural ‘communities’ were not always as harmonious and egalitarian as many of Tönnies’ American disciples would have had us believe.[32] But neither does this imply that communal strivings and egalitarian views were entirely lacking. Pronounced social distinctions between farmers and cottars could be perfectly compatible with an outspoken egalitarian ethos, as the history of coastal marshes shows. The acknowledged German folklorist Karl S. Kramer, who recently published aboutgewijzigd this region, has seriously underestimated this aspect when he criticized older views.[33]

Class conflict in the early modern age had its own logic. Neither communal ideologies, nor social discord, could be taken at their face value. Both mainly served as a vehicle by which any group in society could try to find support for its own claims without switching to open confrontation. Local authorities in the coastal districts frequently gave in to public demands. Breaking-up the consensus was considered dangerous, as it opened the way to state interference. Consequently, the threat of violence proved to be more effective than violence itself.[34] those accused of offending against communal rules had to climb down if they did not want to bring the military onto the scene.

This complicated situation provided the members of the nascent working class with specific opportunities. Increasingly, the local economy became integrated in international markets and state policies. The farmers grew richer, but the autonomy on which their wealth was based also became more fragile. This made them more responsive to popular claims. At the same time, these claims were stated more vigorously as popular sentiments became bound up with supraregional ideologies of church, state and - as far as Germany is concerned - the Empire. Indeed, the defence of local rights and privileges may have become more influential as the issue lost its strictly parochial character.

Our sources suggest that coastal communities were full of unresolved social tensions. Local community leaders, looking for popular support, could not easily overrule the interests of their propertyless clientele. Measures against servants and farm-workers, who would not accept work during the harvest because they considered the wages offered too low, can be traced back to the beginning of the 17th century. Apparently, they were not very successful for after the middle of the century, as inflation ended and daily wages were fixed at a customary level, complaints about servant pay claims lingered on. This sometimes even lead to the official settlement of maximum wages and a ban on outward travelling in summer.[35] Material on these small-scale struggles is scarce because governmental officials as a rule restricted themselves to the surveillance of public order, but it is clair that casual labour, e.g. harvesting, ditching and threshing, involved a lot of bargaining and free competition.

It is obvious, however, that the workers’ chances of success also depended on the availability of alternative employment outside the influence of local community leaders. Seasonal migration to the pastoral areas in the western marshes, employment with the large peat-digging companies in Groningen, Friesland and Holland, taking service in the cities, signing on Dutch whaling-boats or coasters, or ‑ not uncommon during the first years of the 17th century ‑ signing up for in military campaigns could help here. More important still, was the work on large-scale dike repairs and embankments, organized by commercially-minded entrepreneurs who offered hundreds of rural workers temporary jobs. Here as well as in the peat-bogs, strikes were very common.[36] This enabled the workers to develop an elaborate repertoire of rituals, adopted from military customs and local diking traditions, by which they could pull together whenever they felt their earnings were insufficient to support a decent standard of living. Their experiences as navvies, in turn, had repercussions on labour traditions at home. The introduction of rape-seed, for instance, induced new harvesting festivities, which integrated the navvies’ rituals with local customs.

The range of such local traditions was almost inexhaustible. They applied to work-performance, working-times, paces and wages. They prescribed the food that could be eaten on week-days and special treats that should be served at feasts, as well as dictating table-manners. They specified the supernatural sanctions which would take on those who worked on holy days. They enshrined the right to visit fairs, to have special leisure hours, and sometimes, the servants’ privilege to keep open house for friends and visitors. Even the farmer’s sons and daughters were not allowed to withdraw from everyday games, competitions and pleasures. Their involvement did not only legitimize the servants’ behaviour, it also committed them for years.gewijzigd Sometimes the farm-workers took part in the litigation about details of work-performance, as happened in the Land of Kehdingen on the Elbe. On other occasions they were known to have thrown their meals out of the window when they were served on the wrong day of the week. Unemployed youngsters and poor people established the right to go about the village during winter time, singing quasi-religious songs which paid homage to those who undertook their charitable duties, but also contained were hidden threats to misers. Martinmas, Christmas and Carnival givings often sufficed for one or two months. It might have been due to tradition that agricultural innovations as threshing wagons, Brabant ploughs and winnowing-machines did not always spread from one district to the other.

These local traditions did not aim at improving living conditions. They simply tried to maintain the existing standards. But traditions were malleable. Actual changes could always be considered as an extension of older traditions. An accusation of breaking an allegedly ancient custom was, once openly made, perfectly capable of clearing the ground for new claims. As soon as the accusation had won enough public support, its denial could be presented as an assault on tradition. Popular sanctions could inflict serious injury. These could include gossip campaigns, which could harm a person’s name and solvency, but also legitimize physical molestation, arson and other forms of maltreatment. A boycott of farmers unwilling to give way, or infamous accusations directed at workers who accepted lower standards of pay, were probably the most common forms of open labour struggle. More, still, were claims and counterclaims contested beforehand, as farmers had to prove their moral authority by playing their assigned role in the village ritual. During rape-seed threshing, for instance, the farmer was violently tossed in a cloth. He could only free himself by offering a banquet to his workers. Alternatively, the reapers kindly threatened his wife that they would cut down the winter-stock of kale in the garden if they were not offered a feast. Here the farmers came to see very clearly what it would mean if they could not look their poor neighbours, with whom they grew up, in the eyes.

Given these tensions, the older folklore studies have often arrived at false conclusions about coastal communities. Like many sociologists, they took existing rituals as the expression of an harmonious village culture, which was about to disappear. Their conclusions were misleading, as Karl S. Kramer rightly stated. Traditions around the last sheaf, for instance, probably had as much to do with recent claims to the farmer’s riches as with supposedly ancient fertility rites. Going down the road with lanterns, while indoors fires had just been lighted, must have evoked the threat of arson. Bonfires in spring may have symbolized the destruction of the farmer’s winter regime as much as they acted out the burning of King Winter himself. Community rituals and ideologies, however, were ambiguous throughout, because they at once presupposed the consensus which they meant to reinstate at the same time. Even violence itself took on ritual forms, for it aimed at restoring peace.[37]

Why did so many scolars mistake this self-imagined conservatism for the kind of reality which only prevails in closed communities? Surely Tönnies is not the only one responsible. In fact, his most famous study Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887) is not concerned with peasant communities and industrial society at all - the way Durkheim deals with the problem - but with the impact of individualist thinking on an hitherto traditional world.[38] Consequently, his descriptions of community life must be read as a keen analysis of community thinking too. Moreover, Tönnies did not want to idealize the vanishing community life. He knew that change was inevitable. Stemming from an old family of liberal marshland farmers who scorned the passivity of the upland peasants as well as the traditional go-slow policy of their own workers, he was not at all sympathetic to an unqualified traditionalism at all. Folkways and mores, he insisted, were only debated because they had started to change already.[39]

Nevertheless, Tönnies took an ambiguous stand toward modern society.[40] Like his 19th-century liberal predecessors, he felt that progress was the result of purposive human action. Tenacity of traditions could only lead to indolence and oppression. But at the same time he was haunted by the idea that the sum of individual actions did not lead to the intended results. As a sympathizer with the labour movement, for instance, he deplored the breaking-up of the arrangements which had protected working people against impoverishment. His analysis, therefore, concentrated on the rise of the ideology of individualism as much as on the actual increase of individual opportunities, in order to find the ultimate cause of the falling apart of community life. This strategy gave him a precise insight into liberal ideology, aptly. But it did not lead to an adequate understanding of traditional communities. As Tönnies set out to expose liberal thought, he took communal world-views for granted. By concentrating on purposeful action, he neglected the dynamics of those social configurations where purpose was still disguised as tradition.[41]

Religious Transformations

This does not mean that we can dispense with the role of ideologies altogether. This will become obvious, as we finally shift our attention from traditional culture to religion and politics. It can hardly be accidental that the most pronounced examples of popular self-consciousness come from German sources. This may have had something to do with the fact that the German and Danish Enlightenment created far more abundant literary sources, but of greater importance were the earlier virulent campaings of Dutch Calvinist preachers and laymen against popular culture. Traditions which had survived in Lutheran districts during the 17th and 18th century, here gradually made way for a new Puritanical rigidity that had persisted since that time. On the German coast the Lutheran reformation had carried the day since the middle of the 16th century. As a state religion, it stood at the base of every local community. The village church encompassed all community members, the holy mass suggested their ritual unification with the body of Christ. Lutheranism was the perfect community religion, for it sharply distinguished the sanctified village community from mistrusted outsiders. Moreover, local by-laws often completed this religious communalism, as they made the settlement of any newcomers conditional on the consent of other residents.

How different, then, were developments in the Dutch Republic and in the bordering East-Frisian districts? Here Calvinism, linked with the cause of civil rebellion against the Spanish crown, had to fight a fierce battle before it could gain recognition as the official religion.[42] Convinced Calvinists were a minority group for a long time, having to reckon with the fact that in Groningen and Friesland alone, at least a third of the country-dwellers were either Catholics or Mennonites - Menno came from Friesland - , the rest of the population consisting largely of neutralists and liberals. The sheer fact of religious diversity made it difficult to sanctify community life.[43]duke: nieuwe uitgave Calvinist ministers and laymen, therefore, set out to purify their own religious communities as much as they tried to influence state policies. Taking the Holy Communion while sitting around a table, they revived the fraternal rites of medieval guilds, demanding from the participants an unspotted reputation. At the same time they were ill-disposed to many rituals of public life, as were the Mennonites before them. Whereever this uncompromising vanguard of elected Calvinists - it could have served Lenin as an example - monopolized state-power, it immediately set about reorganizing public life according to its own standards. Local fairs and festivals were often banned, dancing made illegal, most forms of conspicuous consumption criticized as wasteful.

Other religious groups, of course, tried to obstruct this Puritan offensive. Most formal power remained with liberal-minded aristocrats and patricians, who did not hide their distaste for religious orthodoxy. But, when confronted with the threat of religious strife they too had to indulge the campaign against traditiongewijzigd, and fall back on a strong and neutral state bureaucracy from where they could better resist Calvinist claims. On the one hand, therefore, religious pluriformity provided for a secular state, on the other it created the forces which aimed at reorganizing the society along Puritan lines.

At the break of the 18th century in many rural parts of the Dutch Republic and East-Friesland orthodox Calvinism had incorporated all Protestants except the declining Mennonite sects. Only in the cities and the urbanized parts of Holland and Friesland on both sides of the Zuider Zee did a more secular culture continue to flourishgewijzigd. What prevailed was a rich, but sober style of living and an industrious rural society, which tended to strip community life more and more down to its essentials, and presented excessive popular claims as a rebellion against God’s will. But Calvinist thinking, designated by Tönnies, Weber, Troeltsch and many others as a source of modern individualist world-views, had its own ambiguities too.[44]

Whereever the state was dominated by liberal-minded landowning elites, popular claims followed the lines of Calvinist rigidity. From the pietist movement sprang a new community spirit, centering around local groups of inspired men and women who insisted that any chance to be saved depended on the effort to purify one’s life. This religious revivalism, directed against the liberal clergy, soon became intertwined with monarchist attempts to curtail the liberal aristocracy and strengthen the stadholders’ power. The image of God, not as a distant Protector of creation, but as a being capable of arbitrary interference with human affairs, was metaphorically mirrored in the image of the righteous but unpredictable ruler. As one needed no mediators between God and man, so the privileged niches between subject and state had to be done away with too. God’s chosen community, be it the village or the congregation, must restore itself by disposing of false prophets and malicious profiteers.

What concerns us here are not any essentials of 18th-century Dutch political theory or theology, but the utopian view of a restored community, a new convenant as theologians might call it, which allowed the people to participate in community life on a more equal base than before. Of course, it was very unusual for a common villager to take part in the Lord’s supper. He often would not have the proper dress to begin with. The farmers’ position as leaders of the community was uncontested. They took the lead in religious as well as political affairs. But the theoretical possibility that a commoner might attend must have opened up quite new perspectives. Any poor villager could gain respectability by leading a decent and God-fearing life. His poverty was no shame and his devotion gave him the right to ask for support from his rich neighbours.

Thus, the traditional village life faded away and a new and rather untraditional kind of community life flourished. This lasted as long as the confrontations with the liberal elite continued. The farmers’ sober appearance and their strict conduct, intended to challenge the worldly-minded oligarchy, probably served as a model for the lower classes.[45] Religion disciplined the poor, but it also gave them new opportunities. In many ways these patriarchally structured communities resembled Tönnies’ ideal more than anything that went before. Traditional village culture had faded away in many parts of Friesland, Groningen and East-Friesland, yet without leading to the class-hatred which raged later on.

As 19th-century liberals, including Tönnies, looked backwards, they did not grasp this point. Their writings on rural welfare and local politics reflected a kind of ignorance and intolerance towards 18th-century community ideals, which has been echoed by most historical writing since. In the Netherlands, as well as in the German states, the farmers gave up many local privileges as soon as they had acquired the right to participate in state affairs instead. They dissociated themselves from the impoverished working-class population and got more and more upset by the fact that many crofters and artisans harked back to the theocratic spirit of the previous century. Neither religion nor community life meant as much to them, as they had done to their grandfathers. When the remaining Calvinist leaders in Friesland, Groningen and the neighbouring German districts leaders organized their followers, they were met by most farmers with outright hostility. During the 19th century thousands of ‘small people’ - as they used to call themselves - left the Dutch Reformed Church for independent congregations.[46]

There were, however, several exceptions. In those districts where 18th-century community-life had been very intense, as in the eastern polderlands of Groningen (Oldambt), or the Frisian polder-areas (Het Bildt) and peat-districts (De Wouden), the union between farmers and farm-workers held out somewhat longer. Religious secession did not take place, and the workers followed their masters halfway to political and religious liberalism before switching over to more radical views. Another exception were those villages where communal strife had been totally lacking. There many farm-workers also followed the farmers towards liberalism.gewijzigd

Again, it is important to stress the differences between Dutch and German developments. During the 18th century pietism had gained foothold in many Lutheran districts too, partly spreading from Denmark southward, partly eastward from the Calvinist districts in East-Friesland. The links between political and religious grievances were obvious here too, as conservative protest movements against enlightened church policies show.[47] German liberalism, subsequently, took a stand against village traditionalism as much as its Dutch counterpart did. As early as the end of the 18th century the first signs of modern individualism began to appear. When, say, some East-Frisian servants asked for better working conditions, their masters accused them of breaking an ancient ‘tacit pact’, fixing their rights and duties.[48] The Eiderstedt farmers, inspired by ‘the system of freedom and equality’, were reported to behave more and more like aristocrats, while the same time giving way to ‘harshness against the common man’.[49]

However, where Dutch Calvinist pietism had substituted a newly developed tradition for traditional village mores, Lutheran pietism developed largely on the base of traditional community life, not against it. Northern German liberalism, subsequently, was never met with any substantive religiously inspired counter-movement. It could do away with traditionalism rather easily. Either the farm-workers tried to commit the farmers to traditional values, or they acted in open rebellion, as the 1848 events demonstrate. Gradually, they shifted towards liberalism, ultimately to socialism.[50] The farmers, on the other hand, relapsed into conservatism again.

If we consider the subsequent rise of the labour movement, differences between Dutch and German coastal areas are even more striking. When German farm-workers started to unite at the turn of the 19th century, they all found their way into social-democracy, even in those parts of East-Friesland where Calvinism had dominated for long. In contrast, the Dutch labour movement only had a chance in those villages where religious secession had not yet taken place. Often a majority had already joined the revivalist congregations and showed no interest in trade union activities whatsoever. These religious organisations, increasingly linked up with national conservative parties, took an outright stand against socialism and liberalism.[51]

In certain ways, then, we see in many parts of the Netherlands a religious type of ‘reactionary radicalism’, quite comparable to Calhoun’s characterization of the early labour movement in Britain. As a response, the socialist labour movement in the other districts often took an outright anti-religious stand, something which was quite exceptional in Germany.

More interesting, still, is the fact that anarchism, and subsequently communism, took the lead in some of the 18th-century strongholds of Dutch Calvinism, such as the eastern parts of Groningen and the Frisian peat-districts. In neighbouring East-Friesland the Calvinist farm-workers also took a more radical stand than their colleagues in Lutheran villages. Dutch anarchism, moreover, had many similarities with 18th-century pietism. It too depended on charismatic leadership, and displayed a similar quietism towards organizational matters. When sudden revolutionary change failed to appear, its supporters also concentrated on self-perfectionment. Indeed, one is tempted to the conclusion that these radical ideologies owe more to the egalitarian spirit of Calvinist sects, than to traditional village solidarities or to modern state-orientated political principles.[52]

The Burdens of Traditionalism

In conclusions: it has long been recognized that the quasi-harmonious peasant society which was the legacy of 19th-century sociology, probably never existed. One should not be tempted, however, to drop the subject altogether. Communal traditions, however difficult to detect, were always present during the early modern age. Our research suggested that economic change and social tension in the North Sea coastal marshes led to a marked increase in traditional notions. We also suggest that some of these traditions were quite effective in slowing down change and reducing social tension. Nineteenth-century developments made most of them seen out of date. Increasing opportunities created a new commitment to change, apparent in liberal and socialist thinking. Nevertheless, some ideologies, seemingly hostile to communal traditionsgewijzigd, het voorstel dat je me eerder telefonisch deed, lijkt me niet goed te kloppen, were perfectly capable of carrying intense community spirit well into the social complexity of our industrial age. Calvinism was one of these. Whereever Calvinism had effectively challenged liberalism, labour did not have much chance.

For centuries many parts of pre-industrial Europe had been integrated in extensive commercial and cultural networks. Peasants were transformed into farmers, crofters started working as regular farm-hands, and their relationship took on more dynamic forms. Yet, these men and women tended to present themselves as members of closed corporate communities. We must try to see beyond their self-imagined conservatism. Edward Thompson has characterized social relations in 18th-century Britain as ‘class struggle without class’. Indeed: early modern thinking can be typified as progress without any knowledge of progress, as social change without social consciousness. Labour historians should take more account of this.


* The author acknowledges the valuable suggestions made by Yme Kuiper and Goffe Jensma to an earlier draft. Mr. Chris Nottingham corrected the English.

[1]. E. Hobsbawm, ‘Introduction’, in E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (ed.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge 1983), 1-14.

[2]. E.P. Thompson, ‘Eighteenth-Century English Society: Class Struggle without Class?’, 152, in Social History 3 (1978), 133-165. On the idea of change E. Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford 1983), 22ff. E.A. Tiryakian, ‘The Time Perspectives of Modernity’, in Loisir et société/Society and Leisure 1 (1978), 125-153.

[3]. E. Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford 1983), 22. Cf. J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into its Origin and Growth (London 1920). D. Spadaforda, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-century Britain (New York 1990).

[4]. K. Mannheim, Conservatism: A Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge (London 1986).

[5]. N. Elias, ‘Towards a Theory of Communities’, in C. Bell and H. Newby (ed.), The Sociology of Community (London 1974), ix-xli. An exellent survey of Dutch community studies by A.J. Wichers, De oude plattelandsbeschaving: Een sociologische bewustwording van ‘overherigheid’ (Wageningen/Assen 1965, with a summary in English). Also H.D. Flap, ‘Het belang van de sociografie voor de regionale geschiedsschrijving’, in J. Frieswijk et al. (ed.), Frieslands verleden verkend (Leeuwarden 1987), 39-52. G. Wiegelmann (ed.), Gemeinde im Wandel: Volkskundliche Gemeindestudien in Europa (Münster 1979).

[6]. J. Blum, The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe (Princeton NJ 1978). H. Wunder, Die bäuerliche Gemeinde in Deutschland (Göttingen 1986).

[7]. E.P. Thompson, ‘The Moral Economy of the English Crowd on the Eighteenth Century’, 79, in Past and Present 50 (1971), 76-136. ‘Eighteenth-Century English Society’, 165. For a more general view J.C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant (New Haven 1976).

[8]. C. Calhoun, ‘‘Community’: Towards a Variable Conceptualization for Comparative Research’, in Social History 5 (1980), 105-129. The Question of Class Struggle: Social Foundations of Popular Radicalism during the Industrial Revolution (Oxford 1982).

[9]. Thompson, ‘Eighteenth-Century English Society’, 153f, my emphasis. See also J.J. Kaye and K. McClelland (ed.), E.P. Thompson: Critical Perspectives (Cambridge 1990), especially 103ff.

[10]. We can only give a selection of literature. As an introduction: H.J. Keuning, Geest und Marsch. Wilhelms­havener Vorträge, 23 (Wilhelmshaven 1957). J. Abrahamse et al. (ed.), De Waddenzee (Harlingen 1976, also published in German and Danish). P. Wagret, Polderlands (London 1966). H. Aubin, ‘Der Nordseeraum - eine frühe Geschichtslandschaft’, in Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst und Vaterländische Altertümer zu Emden 45 (1965), 91-102. B. Tacke and B. Lehmann, Die Nordseemarschen (Bielefeld/Leipzig 1924). C. Borchling and R. Muuss (ed.), Die Friesen (Breslau 1931). H. Allmers, Marschenbuch: Land- und Volksbilder aus den Marschen zwischen Weser und Elbe (1858, repr. Osnabrück 1979).
  On Northern Dutch rural society: J. De Vries, The Dutch Rural Economy in the Golden Age, 1500-1700 (New Haven/London 1974).
J.A. Faber, Drie eeuwen Friesland: Economische en sociale ontwikkelingen van 1500 tot 1800, 2 vol. (Wageningen 1971, with English summary). L.S. Meihuizen, ‘Sociaal-economische geschiedenis van Groningerland’ in W.J. Formsma e.a. (ed.), Historie van Groningen: Stad en Land, 331-360. P. Priester, De economische ontwikkeling van de landbouw in Groningen 1800-1910: Een kwalitatieve en kwantitatieve analyse (Groningen 1991). J.N.H. Elerie and P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers (ed.), Het Oldambt, deel 2: Nieuwe visies op geschiedenis en actuele problemen (Groningen 1991).
On the German marshlands: F. Swart, Zur friesischen Agrargeschichte (Leipzig 1910). H. Wiemann, ‘Beiträge zur Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte Ostfrieslands’, in Ostfriesland im Schütze des Deiches, vol. 1 (Pewsum 1969), 377-500. W. Norden, Eine Bevölkerung in der Krise: Historisch-demographische Untersuchungen zur Biographie einer norddeutschen Küstenregion (Butjadingen 1600-1850) (Hildesheim 1984). E. Hinrichs, R. Krämer and C. Reinders, Die Wirtschaft des Landes Oldenburg in Vorindustrieller Zeit: Eine regionalgeschichtliche Dokumentation für die Zeit von 1700 bis 1850 (Oldenburg 1988). L. Bierwirth, Siedlung und Wirtschaft im Lande Hadeln (Bad Godesberg 1967). H.J. Schulze (ed.), Die Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden und das Land Hadeln in späthannoverischer Zeit (1848-1866) (Stade 1981). R. Wiebalck, ‘Die wirtschaft­lichen Verhält­nisse des Landes Wursten im 19. Jahrhundert’, in Jahrbuch der Männer vom Morgenstern 31 (1948), 1-33 and 32 (1949), 5-22. G. Hanssen, Agrarhistorische Abhandlungen, 2 vol. (1880‑84, repr. Osnabrück 1965). M. Sering, Erbrecht und Agrarver­fassung in Schles­wig-Holstein auf geschichtlicher Grundlage (Berlin 1908). H.-C. Steinborn, Abgaben und Dienste holsteinischer Bauern im 18. Jahrhundert (Neumünster 1982).

[11]. On mediaeval and early-modern times: B.H. Slicher van Bath, ‘The Economic and Social Conditions in the Frisian Districts from 900 to 1500’, in A.A.G.-Bijdragen 13 (1965), 97-133. H. Kellenbenz, ‘Bäuerliche Unternehmertätigkeit im Bereich der Nord- und Ostsee vom Hochmittelalter bis zum Ausgang der neueren Zeit’, in Vierteljahresschrift für So­zial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 47 (1962), 1-40. R. Krämer, ‘Historisch-geogra­phische Unter­suchungen zur Kultur­land­schafts­entwick­lung in Butja­dingen’, in Probleme der Küstenforschung im südlichen Nordseegebiet 15 (1985), 65-125. B. Poulsen, Land - by - marked: To økonomiske landskaber i 1400-tallets Slesvig (Flensborg 1988, with German summary).

[12]. H. Wiese and J. Bölts, Rinderhaltung im nordwesteuropäischen Küstengebiet vom 15. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert (Stuttgart 1965). K. Newman, ‘Hamburg in the European Economy, 1660-1750’, in Journal of Economic History 14 (1985), 57-93. J.I. Israel, Durch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740 (Oxford 1989). On local export harbours: A. Schultze, Die Siel­hafenorte und das Problem des regionalen Typus im Bauplan der Kultur­landschaft (Göttingen 1962).

[13]. J. Lucassen, Migrant Labour in Europe, 1600-1900: The Drift to the North Sea (London 1986).

[14]. F.-W. Schaer, ‘Die ländlichen Unterschichten zwi­schen Weser und Ems vor der Industrialisierung’, in Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landes­geschichte 50 (1978), 45-69. B. Wolf, Unterbäuerliche Schichten im Hamburger Marschgebiet (Hamburg 1989). Very informing on social conditions after 1850: H. Wiemann, ‘Beiträge zur Lage der Landarbeiter an der Nordseeküste’, in Rotenburger Schriften 1975, 27-55. F. Rehbein, Das Leben eines Landarbeiters, ed. U.J. Diederichs and H. Rüdel (1911, repr. Hamburg 1985). N.R. Nissen, Menschen, Monarchen, Maschinen: Landarbeiter in Dithmarschen (Heide 1988). J. Frieswijk, Om een beter leven: Strijd en organisatie van land- en veenarbeiders in het noorden van Nederland (1850-1914) (Leeuwarden 1989, with English summary).

[15]. On malaria: Norden, op.cit., 85-95, 106f. W.O. Focke, Die frühere und jetzige Verbreitung der Malaria in Niedersachsen (Bremen 1889). H. Brouwer, ‘Malaria in Nederland in de achttiende en negentiende eeuw’, in Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 9 (1983), 141-159. The estimate is my own.

[16]. Cf. K.-J. Lorenzen-Schmidt, ‘Hufner und Kätner: Ein Versuch zur sozialstrukturrellen Entwicklung in den holsteinischen Elbmarschen’, in Archiv für Agrargeschichte der holsteinischen Elbmarschen 2 (1986), 33-67. Same author, ‘Ein Verlaufsmodell für konjunkturbedingte Bodenmobilität’, in I.E. Mommsen (ed.), Schleswig-Holsteins Weg in die Moderne (Neumünster 1988), 105-112.

[17]. A classical account: E.W. Hofstee, Het Oldambt. Een sociografie, part 1: Vormende krachten (1937, Groningen 1990). Based on Hofstee’s work: J. Haveman, ‘Social Tensions between Farmer and Farm Laborer in Northern Holland’, in American Journal of Sociology 60 (1954), 246-254. Also on the 19th century: C. Seiffert, ‘Die Entwicklung der Landwirtschaft in den niedersächsischen Seemarschen unter dem Einfluss der gewerblichen und industriellen Entwicklung seit 1800’, in Neues Archiv für Niedersachsen 13 (1964), 184-194, 264-275. J.L. van Zanden, De economische ontwikkeling van de Nederlandse landbouw in de negentiende eeuw, 1800-1914 (Utrecht 1985, with English summary).

[18]. Coastal population can be estimated around 400,000 at the break of the 19th century, the area about 2 million acres.

[19]. Hofstee, Het Oldambt, 232.

[20]. E.H. Waterbolk, Verspreide opstellen (Amsterdam 1981), 185. Cf. B.H. Slicher van Bath, Boerenvrijheid (Groningen/Batavia 1948).

[21]. Very suggestive: H. Schmidt, ‘Adel und Bauern im friesischen Mittelal­ter’, in Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 45 (1973), 45-95. B.H. Slicher van Bath, Herschreven historie (1949, Arnhem 1978), 259-280, counted 23 Frisian republics between Zuider Zee and Weser. Also G. Franz, Geschichte des Bauernstandes (Stuttgart 1970), 71-75. H. Stoob, Geschichte Dithmarschens im Regentenzeitalter (Heide 1959). A.A. Panten, ‘Die soziale Schichtung der Nordfriesen im Mittelalter’, in Nordfriesisches Jahrbuch 20, (1984), 35-42.

[22]. H. Wiemann, ‘Die Bauern in der Ostfriesischen Landschaft im 16.-18. Jahrhundert’, and N.R. Nissen, ‘Bäuerliche Führungsschichten Dithmarschens zwischen Bauernkrieg und Bauernbefreiung’, in G. Franz (ed.), Bauernschaft und Bauernstand 1500-1970 (Limburg-Lahn 1975), 153-164 and 165-182. M. Hughes, ‘East Frisian Estates in the 18th Century’?, in Album Francois Dumont (Brussels 1977), 123-152. K. Krüger, ‘Die landschaftliche Verfassung Nordelbiens in der frühen Neuzeit: ein besonderer Typ politischer Partizipation’, in H. Jäger et al. (ed.), Civitatum Communitas: Studien zum europäischen Städtewesens, Vol. 2 (Cologne/Vienna 1984), 458-487.

[23]. T. Hodgskin, Travels in the North of Germany (Edinburgh 1820, repr. New York 1969), Vol. I, 256-58.

[24]. J.M.G. van der Poel, ‘De landbouwenquête van 1800: Deel III’, 160, in Historia agriculturae 3 (1956), 105-168.

[25]. O. Buurman, Hochdeutsch-plattdeutsches Wörterbuch (Neumünster 1962‑75), Vol. 7, 870.

[26]. H. Reimers (ed.), Balthasar Arends Landesbeschreibung vom Harlingerland (Wittmund 1930), footnote on p. 40.

[27]. F. Arends, Ostfriesland und Jever in geographischer, statistischer und besonders landwirtschaftlicher Hinsicht, Vol. III (1820, repr. Leer 1974), 414.

[28]. R. Heberle, From Democracy to Nazism: A Regional Case Study on Political Parties in Germany (1945, 2nd ed. New York 1970), 38. Rudolf Heberle was a student of Tönnies at the university of Kiel. He married Tönnies’ daughter, but fled Germany in the 1930s to find refuge in the USA. There he introduced Tönnies’ ideas.

[29]. [F.C. Volkmar], Versuch einer Beschreibung von Eiderstädt in Briefen an einen Freund im Hollsteinischen (1795, repr. Husum 1976), 287.

[30]. F. Tönnies, Community and Association (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft) (1940, London 1974), 241. Charles P. Loomis’ original translation of the ‘die Dörfer umfassender Landschaft’ as ‘the surrounding countryside’ is misleading at this point; cf. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundbegriffe der reinen Soziologie (9th ed., Darmstadt 1963), 220. Also on his background F. Tönnies, ‘Lebenserinnerungen aus dem Jahre 1935 an Kindheit, Schulzeit, Studium und erste Dozententätigkeit (1855-1894)’, ed. R. Polley, in Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Schleswig-Holsteinische Geschichte 105 (1980), 187-227. A. Bammé (ed.), Ferdinand Tönnies. Soziologe aus Oldenswort (Munich/Vienna 1991).

[31]. A. Mitzman, Sociology and Estrangement. Three Sociologists of Imperial Germany (2nd ed. New Brunswick/Oxford 1987), 99.

[32]. On his strong, but seldom recognized influence on the so-called ‘Peasant Studies’ in the USA: W.J. Cahnman, ‘Toennies in America’, in History and Theory 16 (1977), 147-167. Strong criticism by S.L. Popkin, The Rational Peasant: The Political Economy of Rural Society in Vietnam (Berkeley 1979), 1-82.

[33]. K.-S. Kramer, Volksleben in Holstein (1550-1800) (Kiel 1987), 82 and 88f. Same author, ‘Gemeinwesen in Schleswig-Holstein. Eine historisch-volkskundliche Betrachtung’, in Kieler Blätter zur Volkskunde 9 (1977), 5-29.

[34]. Cf. W. Kaschuba, ‘Protest und Gewalt: Körpersprache und Gruppenrituale von Arbeitern im Vormärz und 1848’, in P. Assion (ed.), Transformationen der Arbeiterkultur (Marburg 1986), 30-48.

[35]. S. Göttsch, Beiträge zum Gesindewesen in Schleswig-Holstein zwischen 1740 und 1840 (Neumünster 1978). B. Runne, ‘Die rechtliche Lage der Dienstboten im Lande Hadeln vom 16. bis 19. Jahrhundert’, in Jahrbuch der Männer vom Morgenstern 37 (1956), 69-84.

[36]. F-W. Schaer, ‘Zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage der Deicharbeiter an der oldenburgisch-ostfriesischen Küste in der vorindustriellen Gesellschaft’, in Niedersächsisches Jahrbuch für Landesgeschichte 45 (1973), 115-194. Frieswijk, op. cit., 114-126. See my ‘Deicharbeit und Unternehmertätigkeit in den Nordseemarschen um 1600’, in Th. Steensen (ed.), Deichbau und Sturmfluten in den Frieslanden. Beiträge vom 2. Historiker-Treffen vom Nordfriisk Instituut (Bredstedt 1992) 60-72.

[37]. Cf. N.Z. Davis, ‘The Reasons of Misrule’, in her Society and Culture in Early Modern France (London 1975), 97-123. Also ‘The Rites of Violence’, op. cit., 152-188.

[38]. W.J. Cahnman, ‘Tönnies, Durkheim and Weber’, in Social Science Information 15 (1976), 839-853.

[39]. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 219f.

[40]. C. Bickel, Ferdinand Tönnies: Soziologie als skeptische Aufklärung zwischen Historismus und Rationalismus (Opladen 1991).

[41]. J.P. Kruijt, ‘Gemeenschap als sociologisch begrip’, in his Zoeklicht en kompas (Assen 1968), 180-202. Also R. König, Soziologie in Deutschland (Munich/Vienna 1987), 122-197.

[42]. The city of Emden had been a stronghold of Calvinism since the 1540s, being opposed by the Lutheran Count of East-Frisia, who won the support of inland peasants and most farmers of the Northern marshes.

[43]. On this problem A. Duke, ‘The Ambivalent Face of Calvinism in the Netherlands, 1541-1618’, in his Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries (1991). H. Schilling, ‘Religion und Gesell­schaft und der calvinis­tischen Republik der vereinig­ten Niederlan­den’, in F. Petri (ed.), Kirche und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in deutschen und niederländischen Städten der werdenden Neuzeit (Cologne/Vienna 1980), 197-250. W. Bergsma, ‘Religious Diversity in the Netherlands of the Sixteenth Century: The Impression of a Northern Dutch Landowner’, in J.-G. Rott and S.L. Verheus (ed.), Anabaptistes et dissidents au XVIième siècle (Baden-Baden/Bouxwiller 1987), 215-232.

[44]. References are very dispersed. As an introduction to the Dutch pietist movement A. van der Meiden, Welzalig is het volk. Een bijgewerkt portret van De Zwarte Kousen Kerken (Baarn 1976). On East-Friesland: W. Hollweg, Die Geschichte des älteren Pietismus in den reformierten Gemeinden Ostfrieslands (um 1650-1750) (Aurich 1978). Parts of my argument are included in the often neglected essay by Max Weber, ‘The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism’, in H.H. Gerth and C.W. Mills (ed.), From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (London 1948), 302-322. Also E. Gellner, Plough, Sword, and Book (London 1988), 100-112.

[45]. On the Dutch Oldambt-district my ‘Land Kanaän aan de Noordzee: een vergeten hoofdstuk’, 47, in Elerie and Hoppenbrouwers (ed.), Het Oldambt, deel 2, 25-71.

[46]. L.H. Mulder, Revolte der Fijnen. De afscheiding van 1834 als sociaal conflict en sociale beweging (Meppel 1973, with English summary).

[47]. H. Beyer, ‘Zur Entwicklung des Bauernstandes in Schleswig-Holstein zwischen 1768 und 1848’, in Zeitschrift für Agrargeschichte und Agrarsoziologie 5 (1957), 50-69. H. Schmidt, ‘“Aufgeklärte“ Gesangbuch-Reform und ländliche Gemeinde’, in E. Hinrichs and G. Wiegelmann (ed.), Sozialer und kultureller Wandel in der ländlichen Welt des 18. Jahrhunderts (Wolfenbuttel 1982), 85-115.

[48]. ‘Ueber den jetzigen Mangel an Dienstbothen und deren Verdorbenheit’, 388, in Pallas 1799, 373-455. This periodical, published in the city of Norden, probably aimed at a Lutheran public.

[49]. Versuch einer Beschreibung von Eiderstädt, 302.

[50]. C. Oehr, ‘Studien zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung im ehemaligen Landdrosteibezirk Stade’, Stader Jahrbuch 1976. B. Parisius, Vom Groll der ‘Kleinen Leute’ zum Programm der kleinen Schritte: Arbeiterbewegung im Herzogtum Oldenburg 1840-1890 (Oldenburg 1985), 28-51. G. Hirt, ‘Soziale Probleme und Sozialismus in Dithmarschen in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts’, in Dithmarschen NF (1971) No. 4, 81-102. On political developments during this period W. Carr, Schleswig-Holstein 1815-48: A Study in National Conflict (Manchester 1963). H.-G. Husung, Protest und Repression im Vormärz: Norddeutschland zwischen Restauration und Revolution (Göttingen 1983).

[51]. On this problem S. Stuurman, Verzuiling, kapitalisme en patriarchaat: Aspekten van de ontwikkeling van de moderne staat in Nederland (Nijmegen 1983). P. Hoekman, J. Houkes, O. Knottnerus (ed.), Een eeuw socialisme en arbeidersbeweging in Groningen (1885-1985) (Groningen 1986).

[52]. O.S. Knottnerus, ‘Anarchisme als geseculariseerde bevindelijkheid’, in Bulletin Nederlandse Arbeidersbeweging 18 (1988), 39-50, also in Eerste jaarboek Postdoctoraal Instituut voor de Sociologie (Amsterdam 1991), 87-98. H.M. Barth, ‘“Moral Economy“ und Arbeiterbewegung. Landarbeiter und Gewerkschaften in Ostfriesland’, in W. Günther (ed.), Gesellschaftliche Bewegungen in Nordwestdeutschland und Nordpolen (Oldenburg 1988), 75-135.