Intra-European Litigation in Eighteenth-Century Izmir

The Role of the Merchants’ Style


Author: Tijl Vanneste
Scholars have long debated the use of law to settle international trade disputes in the early modern period. In this book, Tijl Vanneste uses the case study of commercial litigation before the Dutch consular court of Izmir to argue that merchants relied on a particular blend of mercantile customs, which he calls ‘the merchants’ style’, and specific legal forms and procedures, laid down in written regulations, and dependent on local and international circumstances. The book challenges the idea of a universal ‘law merchant’, to replace it with a more nuanced analysis that centralizes the interplay between informal merchant custom, as advocated by traders and judges alike, and formal procedural legislation, drawn mostly from Roman law, in the resolution of mercantile disputes.
Open Access

Prices from (excl. VAT):

Add to Cart
Tijl Vanneste, Ph.D. (2009), researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI) of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. His current research is about women’s labour in the diamond industry. He has worked extensively on early modern cross-cultural trade networks.

List of Illustrations


1The Dutch in the Levant
 1 The Early Development of Dutch Levant Trade
 1.1 Straatvaart : Dutch Navigation into the Mediterranean

 1.2  The Directorate of Levant Trade and European Competition

 2 The Dutch Levantine Institutional Context
 2.1  A Short History of the European Capitulations

 2.2  The Dutch Consular System in the Levant

 3 The Dutch Consulate of Izmir
 3.1  The Evolution towards Stability

 3.2  The Consular Protection of Jews

 3.3  Purchasing Protection: The Beratlıs or Honorary Dragomans

 4 The Dutch Trading Community of Izmir in the Eighteenth Century
 4.1  A Community of Competing Traders

 4.2  Levantine Commission Trade

2The Dutch Consular Court of Izmir
 1 Consular Jurisdiction
 1.1  Adjudication in the Capitulations

 1.2  The Establishment of Consular Jurisdiction

 1.3  A Proposal to Codify Adjudication in the Levant

 2 The Dutch Legal Context
 2.1  Sources of Roman-Dutch law

 2.2  The Diversity of Jurisdictions and the Similarity of Courts

 3 Procedures in Commercial Litigation
 3.1  Dutch Regulations on Procedure

 3.2  Summary Procedure and the Merchants’ Style

 3.3  Summary Procedure at the Dutch Consular Court of Izmir

3The Adjudication of Commercial Disputes within the Dutch Community
 1 Adjudication amongst Peers: The Use of Arbitration
 1.1  The Friendly Settlement of Local Troubles

 1.2  A Failed Attempt at Arbitration

 2 The Mother of Levantine Trade Quarrels: Disputing Commission Trade
 2.1  The Principal-agent Problem

 2.2  Commission Trade Gone Wrong

 2.3  Whose Responsibility Is It?

 3 Friendship on Trial
 3.1  The Bond between Merchants

 3.2  The Mutual Pursuit of Profit

 3.3  International Support for the Merchants’ Style

4Intra-European Litigation
 1 Belonging to a European Trade Nation Abroad
 1.1 Forum Rei and a Clash of Laws

 1.2  Competition from within: The Prussian Company

 1.3  A Local European Dispute without Any Dutch Involvement

 1.4  The Possibility of Appeal

 2 Unravelling the Web of Commission Trade in Court
 2.1  Crossing Physical Distance by Power of Attorney

 2.2  The Trial

 2.3  A Complicated Web of Entanglement

 2.4  Invoking ‘National’ Law versus the Merchants’ Style

 3 Litigants at Sea and Maritime Jurisdiction

5Ottomans at the Dutch Consular Court
 1 Levantine Confrontations with the Law
 1.1  Sequesters in 1686

 1.2  Central Courts in the United Provinces

 1.3  The States General and Ottoman Justice

 2 Legal Issues of Dutch Protection and Subject Status
 2.1 Beratlı Problems

 2.2  Ottoman-Dutch Intercultural Partnerships

 3 The Most Cosmopolitan Form of Quarrelling
 3.1  Gerrit van Brakel’s Bill of Exchange

 3.2  Ottoman justice and European Protection

 4 An Islamic Merchants’ Style?
 4.1  European Fear of Ottoman Abuses

 4.2  Greek Community Resolutions

 4.3  The Merchants’ Style through Muslim Eyes




All interested in the legal and socio-cultural tools early modern merchants had at their disposal to ensure the functioning of long-distance and cross-cultural trade. Those interested in European presence in the Ottoman Empire.