chapter  5
19 Pages

Employment, Education and Social Assistance: The Economic Attraction of Early Modern Cities


In the early modern period cities in the Low Countries exercised an unmistakable attraction on migrants. Despite the poor living conditions, which, as a rule, led to high mortality rates, the city continued to attract people. Equally important was that established citizens kept on living there.1 Not coincidentally, the population of cities in the Low Countries grew rapidly, certainly in times of economic prosperity. This happened in the Southern Netherlands particularly in the sixteenth century and in the Northern Netherlands in the Golden Age: the period from c. 1580 to about 1670. In times of decline, the balance of the population decreased slightly in the cities, but compared with other early modern regions, the Low Countries remained a heavily urbanised area. Thousands of migrants from far and wide were attracted to the city.2