Shaping Medieval Markets

The Organisation of Commodity Markets in Holland, c. 1200 - c. 1450


The late Middle Ages witnessed the transformation of the county of Holland from a peripheral agrarian region to a highly commercialised and urbanised one. This book examines how the organisation of commodity markets contributed to this remarkable development. Comparing Holland to England and Flanders, the book shows that Holland’s specific history of reclamation and settlement had given rise to a favourable balance of powers between state, nobility, towns and rural communities that reduced opportunities for rent-seeking and favoured the rise of efficient markets. This allowed burghers, peasants and fishermen to take full advantage of new opportunities presented by changing economic and ecological circumstances in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.
Open Access


Open Access

Biographical Note

Jessica Dijkman, Ph.D. (2010) in History, Utrecht University, is a postdoc researcher at the department of Economic and Social History in Utrecht. She publishes on institutions regulating trade and production in the Middle Ages.

Review Quote

[ Shaping medieval markets] deepens our understanding of the economy of Holland. But more than that, Dijkman has succeeded in presenting an original and valuable contribution to the ongoing debates on the institutional preconditions for economic growth in the late middle ages and early modern era. Job Weststrate, Economic History Society, Vol. 66, No. 2 (2013), pp. 664-665 […] Shaping medieval markets [is] een meer dan voorbeeldige studie […], perfect op het kruispunt van theorie en bron, en een bijzonder inspirerende leidraad voor verder onderzoek naar de oorzaken van economische groei én stagnatie binnen en buiten de Nederlanden. Jord Hanus, Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis / The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History (t-seg), Vol. 9, No. 4 (2012), pp. 83-85

Table of contents

List of Tables List of Illustrations List of Abbreviations Preface 1. Introduction PART I: THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK: TRADE VENUES 2. Fairs 3. Rural markets c. 1200 – c. 1350: a late start? 4. New institutions for rural trade (c. 1350 – c. 1450) 5. The Dordrecht staple PART II: THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK: RULES AND PRACTICES 6. Weighing and measuring 7. Contract enforcement PART III: MARKET PERFORMANCE: QUANTITATIVE TESTS 8. Market integration 9. Market orientation 10. Conclusions APPENDICES Appendix A. Survey of fairs Appendix B. Rural weigh houses in the north of Holland around 1400 Appendix C. Charters of urban liberties Appendix D. Wheat prices References Index


All those interested in economic history, the history of markets and trade, the use of New Institutional Economics in history, and the history of medieval Holland.