War, Capital, and the Dutch State (1588-1795)

Buy hardcover (Brill)
Published Nov 2016
ISBN: 9789004228146

Pepijn Brandon, University of Pittsburgh

In War, Capital, and the Dutch State (1588-1795), Pepijn Brandon traces the interaction between state and capital in the organisation of warfare in the Dutch Republic from the Dutch Revolt of the sixteenth century to the Batavian Revolution of 1795. Combining deep theoretical insight with a thorough examination of original source material, ranging from the role of the Dutch East- and West-India Companies to the inner workings of the Amsterdam naval shipyard, and from state policy to the role of private intermediaries in military finance, Brandon provides a sweeping new interpretation of the rise and fall of the Dutch Republic as a hegemonic power within the early modern capitalist world-system.

Winner of the 2014 D.J. Veegens prize, awarded by the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. Shortlisted for the 2015 World Economic History Congress dissertation prize (early modern period).

Biographical note

Pepijn Brandon, Ph.D. (2013), University of Amsterdam, is a prize-winning historian of the Dutch Republic. He has held positions at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the International Institute of Social History, and is currently based at the University of Pittsburgh.


All interested in the history of the Dutch Republic, warfare, state formation, the military revolution debates, European expansion, and the origins of capitalism.


War, Capital, and the Dutch State (1588-1795) has the potential to become a highly influential book.”
– Dr. Gijs Rommelse, International Journal of Maritime History, 28(3):606-607.

“For the moment, … Brandon’s work probably provides the last word on these issues, and the decision to publish it in English will hopefully secure for it the wide circulation that it undoubtedly deserves.”
– Dr. Aaron Graham, The Economic History Review, 69, 4 (2016):1389-1390.

“How could the Dutch Republic that was so unlike the ideal of a powerful, centralized state play a crucial role for so long in the war-torn state-system of early-modern Europe? For Pepijn Brandon the explanation resides in the fact that it was a ‘federal-brokerage state’. Dutch state-makers continued to devolve power downwards towards local and provincial institutions rather than to create national administrative bodies and to favour brokerage over bureaucracy. They mediated between merchants oriented toward the world market and more local interest groups and could thus draw on the impressive resources of the Dutch economy. It was only late in the eighteenth century that internal limits of this parcellized state structure became patent. To show its major strengths and its finally emerging weaknesses the author provides a very lucid in-depth analysis of three areas of interaction between the state and capitalists in the organization of warfare.
This groundbreaking book provides a fascinating and knowledgeable case-study of the actual interplay of three of the main driving forces in the history of the early modern era: capitalism, state-formation and war and has major implications for many general claims that have been made with regard to their history and the history of the Dutch Republic.”
– Prof. dr. Peer Vries, University of Vienna

Table of contents

List of Charts and Tables
Translations of Frequently Used Dutch Terms
Note on Currency
Dutch War-Making and State-Making: Three Solutions to a Riddle
Typologies of the Early Modern State Form
The Dutch Cycle of Accumulation
The Federal-Brokerage State and its ‘Historic Bloc’
Content and Structure of the Book .

Chapter 1 The Making of the Federal-Brokerage State
1.1 The Dutch Revolt and the Establishment of the State
1.2 Types of Brokerage 1: Merchant Warriors
1.3 Types of Brokerage 2: Merchants as Administrators
1.4 Types of Brokerage 3: Financial Intermediaries in Troop Payments
1.5 Political and Ideological Foundations of the Federal-Brokerage State

Chapter 2 Merchant Companies, Naval Power, and Trade Protection
2.1 The Naval Revolution and the Challenge to Dutch Trade
2.2 A Unified State Company for Colonial Trade?
2.3 The VOC and the Navy from Symbiosis to Division of Labour
2.4 The WIC between Private Trade and State Protection
2.5 European Commercial Directorates as Protection Lobbies
2.6 Protection Costs and Merchant Interests

Chapter 3 Production, Supply, and Labour Relations at the Naval Shipyards
3.1 Capitalist Rationality, Accounting, and the Naval Revolution
3.2 Personal Networks and Market Practices
3.3 Different Products, Different Systems of Supply
3.4 Naval Shipyards as Centres of Production
3.5 Shipyards and their Workforce
3.6 Admiralty Boards and the Labour Market
3.7 Combination, Coordination, and Control
3.8 Of Time, Theft, and Chips
3.9 Neptune’s Trident and Athena’s Gifts

Chapter 4 Troop Payments, Military Soliciting, and the World of Finance
4.1 From Disorder to Regulation
4.2 A Golden Age of Military Soliciting
4.3 Two Careers in Military Finance
4.4 The Daily Affairs of a Financial Middleman
4.5 Networks of Credit and Influence
4.6 Military Soliciting in the Age of Financialisation

Chapter 5 The Structural Crisis of the Federal-Brokerage State
5.1 The Rise and Limits of Reform Agendas
5.2 Warring Companies and the Debate over Free Trade
5.3 Admiralty Boards at the Centre of the Storm
5.4 From Citizens’ Militias to the Batavian Legion
5.5 The Afterlife of the Federal-Brokerage State

Annex 1 Holland Members of the Amsterdam Admiralty Board
Annex 2 Zeeland Members of the Zeeland Admiralty Board
Annex 3 Income and Expenditure of the Amsterdam Admiralty: Steps from Figures in ‘Borderel’ to Reconstruction
Sources and Bibliography