Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 December 2020
Drawing evidence from the proceedings of the Antwerp hoogere Vierschaer (the local criminal court), the article challenges some key features from Jan de Vries’ hypothesis of the Industrious Revolution. Mesmerised by an endless variety of fashionable and exotic consumer goods, eighteenth-century people would have slashed their leisure time in a variety of ways. Labour input would have been forced up on a daily, weekly and annual base. However, time-budget analysis of Antwerp labour rhythms evidences a much more complex picture, which does not really hint at an industrious revolution but rather reveals invariable industriousness.
Tardivement à la mode ? Temps, travail et révolution industrieuse à l’époque moderne, en ville d'Anvers (1585−1795)
L’étude repose sur l'enregistrement des audiences tenues en Cour de justice pénale d'Anvers (Hoogere Vierschaer). L'auteur est amené à contester certains éléments clés de la thèse de Jan de Vries sur la révolution industrieuse: hypnotisé par une variété infinie de biens de consommation à la mode et exotiques, le monde du XVIIIe siècle aurait drastiquement réduit son temps libre de diverses manières. Le travail aurait été intensifié et prolongé sur une base quotidienne, hebdomadaire et annuelle. Cependant, à Anvers, l'analyse du budget-temps des rythmes de labeur apporte une image beaucoup plus complexe qui ne met vraiment pas en évidence la moindre révolution industrieuse mais révèle plutôt un comportement industrieux invariable.
Modisch verspätet? Zeit, Arbeit und Fleißrevolution im frühneuzeitlichen Antwerpen (1585–1795)
Ausgehend von Aussagen in den Verfahren vor dem örtlichen Strafgericht in Antwerpen (hoogere Vierschaer) stellt dieser Beitrag einige Kernpunkte der von Jan de Vries formulierten Hypothese einer Fleißrevolutuion (Industrious Revolution) infrage. Hypnotisiert von einer endlosen Vielfalt modischer und exotischer Konsumgüter, hätten die Menschen im 18. Jahrhundert ihre Freizeit auf vielfältige Weise beschnitten und ihren Arbeitseinsatz täglich, wöchentlich und jährlich hochgeschraubt. Aus einer Zeitbudgetanalyse der Arbeitsrhythmen in Antwerpen ergibt sich jedoch ein komplexeres Bild. Es gibt keine wirklichen Hinweise auf eine Fleißrevolution; vielmehr zeigt sich ein unveränderter Arbeitseifer.
1 For the original hypothesis: de Vries, Jan, ‘The industrial revolution and the industrious revolution’, Journal of Economic History 54 (1994), 249–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar; de Vries, Jan, ‘Between purchasing power and the world of goods: understanding the household economy in early modern Europe’, in Brewer, John and Porter, Roy eds., Consumption and the world of goods (London, 1993), 85–132Google Scholar. A more recent synthesis is Vries, Jan de, The industrious revolution. Consumer behavior and the household economy, 1650 to the present (Cambridge, 2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
2 Some classic texts are Frank Trentman, Empire of Things. How we became a world of consumers from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first (London, 2016), 53–8; Daniel Roche, A history of everyday things. The birth of consumption in France, 1600–1800 (Cambridge, 2000); Raffaella Sarti, Europe at home. Family and material culture, 1500–1800 (New Haven, 2002); Lorna Weatherill, ‘The meaning of consumer behaviour in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century England’, in John Brewer and Roy Porter eds., Consumption and the world of goods (London, 1993), 206–27; Bruno Blondé and Wouter Ryckbosch, ‘In “splendid isolation”. A comparative perspective on the historiographies of the “material renaissance” and the “consumer revolution”’, History of Retailing and Consumption 1 (2015), 105–24.
3 For Britain: Joseph Harley, ‘Consumption and poverty in the homes of the English poor, c. 1670–1834’, Social History 43 (2017), 81–104. Harley elaborated on an older theme: Peter King, ‘Pauper inventories and the material lives of the poor in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries’, in Tim Hitchcock, Peter King and Pamela Sharpe eds., Chronicling poverty: the voices and strategies of the English poor, 1640–1840 (Basingstoke, 1997), 155–91. For the Dutch Republic: Anne McCants, ‘Exotic goods, popular consumption, and the standard of living: thinking about globalization in the early modern world’, Journal of World History 18 (2007), 443–62.
4 For some critical notes: Leonard Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution: a concept too many’, International Labor and Working-Class History 90 (2016), 213–43; Alexis Litvine, ‘The industrious revolution, the industriousness discourse, and the development of modern economies’, The Historical Journal 57 (2014), 531–70; Trentman, Empire of Things, 74–5; Sheilagh Ogilvie, ‘Consumption, social capital, and the industrious revolution in early modern Germany’, Journal of Economic History 70 (2010), 287–325; Elise van Nederveen-Meerkerk, ‘The industrious revolution. Consumer behaviour and the household economy by Jan de Vries’, Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis 6 (2009), 175–7.
5 Hans-Joachim Voth, ‘Time and work in eighteenth-century London’, Journal of Economic History 58 (1998), 29–58; Hans-Joachim Voth, ‘Time-use in eighteenth-century London: some evidence from the Old Bailey’, Journal of Economic History 57 (1997), 497–9; Hans-Joachim Voth, ‘The longest years: new estimates of labor input in England, 1760–1830’, Journal of Economic History 61 (2001), 1056–82; Joel Mokyr and Hans-Joachim Voth, ‘Understanding growth in Europe, 1700–1870: theory and evidence’, in Stephen Broadberry and Kevin O'Rourke eds., The Cambridge economic history of modern Europe: volume I – 1700–1870 (Cambridge, 2012), 7–42. For a broad overview: Hans-Joachim Voth, Time and work in England during the industrial revolution (Cambridge, 2012), 164–84.
6 Some pioneering articles in this regard are Robert Allen and Jacob Weisdorf, ‘Was there an “industrious revolution” before the industrial revolution? An empirical exercise for England, 1300–1800’, Economic History Review 64 (2011), 715–29; Jane Humphries and Jacob Weisdorf, ‘Unreal wages? Real income and economic growth in England, 1260–1850’, Economic Journal 129, 623 (2019), 2867–87. doi:10.1093/ej/uez017; Sara Horrell, Jane Humphries and Jacob Weisdorf, ‘Working for a living? Women and children's labour inputs in England’, Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers 172 (2019), 1–59. For a more negative view, see Gregory Clark and Ysbrand van der Werf, ‘Work in progress? The industrious revolution’, Journal of Economic History 59 (1998), 830–43.
7 Ogilvie, ‘Consumption’, 287–325.
8 Today, the files are stored in the Felixarchief (the Antwerp City Archives): FeA, V 123, Examinatieën en Informatieën (1530–1795). More background on these local, Brabantine court in: Jos Monballyu, Six centuries of criminal law. History of criminal law in the southern Netherlands and Belgium (1400–2000) (Leiden, 2014), 411–28; Wim Meewis, De Vierschaar. De criminele rechtspraak in het oude Antwerpen van de 14de tot de 18de eeuw (Kapellen, 1992).
9 Bruno Blondé and Ilja Van Damme, ‘Retail growth and consumer changes in a declining urban economy (1650–1750)’, Economic History Review 63 (2010), 638–63; Bruno Blondé, ‘Tableware and changing consumer patterns. Dynamics of material culture in Antwerp, 17th and 18th centuries’, in Johan Veeckman eds., Majolica and glass. From Italy to Antwerp and beyond. The transfer of technology in the 16th–early 17th century (Antwerp, 2002), 295–311. In a more recent article, Blondé and Ryckbosch trace back the roots of this evolution to the sixteenth century: Blondé and Ryckbosch, ‘In splendid isolation’, 105–24.
10 Blondé and Van Damme, ‘Retail growth’, 639–41; Catharina Lis and Hugo Soly, Disordered lives. Eighteenth-century families and their unruly relatives (Cambridge, 1996), 44–7; Wouter Ryckbosch, ‘Economic inequality and growth before the industrial revolution: the case of the low countries (14th to 19th centuries)’, European Review of Economic History 20 (2016), 1–22.
11 Karl Schreiner, ‘Abwuerdigung der Feyertage – Neuordnung der Zeit im Widerstreit zwischen religiöser Heilssorge und wirtschaftlichen Fortschritt’, in Arndt Brendecke, Ralf-Peter Fuchs and Edith Köller eds., Die Autorität der Zeit in der Frühen Neuzeit (Munchen, 2003), 257–303. For a revisionist approach: Thijs Lambrecht, ‘Les fêtes religieuses et le travail dans les Pays-Bas méridionaux, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles’, in Corine Maitte and Didier Terrier eds., Les temps du travail. Normes, pratiques, évolutions (XIVe-XIXe siècle) (Rennes, 2014), 43–62.
12 Felixarchief Antwerpen (FeA), V 92, Examination of Maria Lauwers (5 June 1730).
13 Files of the Vierschaar have already been successfully used to mine data on early modern time awareness: Bruno Blondé and Gerrit Verhoeven, ‘Against the clock: time awareness in early modern Antwerp, 1585–1789’, Continuity and Change 28 (2013), 213–44.
14 Unfortunately, these observations are not evenly spread over the centuries since the files of the Hoogere Vierschaer became more extensive at the end of the eighteenth century. As a consequence, in our sample there are 585 observations for 1585–1750 (29.5 per cent), 654 for 1751–1775 (33 per cent) and 741 for 1776–1790 (37.4 per cent).
15 More background on the social bias of these sources: Blondé and Verhoeven, ‘Against the clock’, 213–44; Gerrit Verhoeven, ‘Le pays où on ne sait pas lire. Literacy, numeracy, and human capital in the commercial hub of the Austrian Netherlands (1715–75)’, European History Quarterly 44 (2014), 223–43. Hans-Joachim Voth points out similar problems for the Old Bailey: Voth, Time and work.
16 Jane Whittle, ‘A critique of approaches to “domestic work”: women, work, and the pre-industrial economy’, Past and Present 243 (2019), 35–69; Mark Hailwood, ‘Time and work in rural England, 1500–1700’, Past and Present 248 (2020), 87–121.
17 Except for Voth, there are only a few examples of historians who have used these sources in a similar way: Keith Wrightson, ‘Popular senses of past time: dating events in the North Country, 1615–1631’, in Michael Braddick and Phil Withingon eds., Popular culture and political agency in early modern England and Ireland (Woodbridge, 2017), 91–108; Gerard Moran, ‘Conceptions of time in early modern France: an approach to the history of collective mentalities’, Sixteenth Century Journal 4 (1981), 3–19.
18 Some examples of current, sociological time-diary analysis: Henri Lefebvre, Rhytmanalysis. Space, time and everyday life (London, 2017); Dale Southerthon, ‘Analysing the temporal organization of daily life: social constraints, practices and their allocation’, Sociology 40 (2006), 435–54; Ignace Gloriex et al., ‘Exploring the stable practices of everyday life: a multi-day time-diary approach’, The Sociological Review 65 (2017), 745–62.
19 For example, there were 49 eyewitnesses who reported work as their main activity for the timeslot 10:00–10:59, 11 eyewitnesses mentioned household chores, 2 eating, 3 sleep, 2 religion, 1 mobility, 1 hygiene, which was converted into 37 minutes of payed work, 8 minutes of household chores, 2 minutes for eating, 8 minutes for leisure and so on. Later on, the figures were aggregated on a 24-hours base.
20 For this common methodological flaw, see Voth, ‘The longest years’, 1056–82; Voth, ‘Time and work’, 29–58.
21 Logistic regression and the start-stop methodology have also been applied by Hans-Joachim Voth on the Old Bailey material. Over the years, these methodologies were slowly but surely finetuned: Voth, ‘Time and work’, 29–58; Voth, ‘Time-use’, 497–9; Voth, ‘The longest years’, 1056–82; Voth, Time and work.
22 Voth, Time and Work, 166–9; Voth, ‘The longest year’, 1069.
23 Contrary to our expectations, the time-budget for unpaid work slightly increased during the eighteenth century, from 1.27 hours (before 1750) to 1.52 hours (1776–1790). This is at odds with de Vries’ suggestion that these tasks were ever more contracted out. De Vries, The industrious revolution, 87.
24 Based on the estimates for the different periods: 9:28 hour (>1750), 8:45 (1750–1775), 9:07 (1775–1790).
25 Today, it is one of the most widely used methodologies in sociology of time-use: Glorieuxand, ‘Exploring the stable practices of everyday life’, 745–62.
26 There are 62 statements about the start of the workday, while 106 refer to the end of the workday. Lunch is recorded in only 25 observations. For a similar methodology: Voth, Time and work.
27 Due to small-number statistics (there are only 25 observations about lunch), it is impossible to calculate the exact length for the lunch breach for each sample. Especially for the early eighteenth-century, data are lacking. Hence, we took an average for the whole period. Lunch started, on average, at 12:12 (mean 12:00) and ended around 13:43 (mean 13:30). For the whole period, the lunch has been calculated at 1:30.
28 Night- or evening workers such as innkeepers, watchmen or cesspit cleaners have been removed from the sample as they usually worked until deep in the night. Drawing evidence from the Quarter Sessions in South-West England, Mark Hailwood recently came to a similar conclusion that work frequently dragged on into the evening or even the night. Hailwood, ‘Time and work’, 87–121.
29 FeA, V 122, Examination of Matheys Merckx, 5 May 1789.
30 Voth, Time and work, 166–7. For other estimates on the length of the working day: G. Dohrn-van Rossum, ‘Time’, in Hamish Scott ed., The Oxford handbook of early modern history, 1350–1750 (Oxford, 2015), 145–64; Anne Murphy, ‘Clock-watching: work and working time at the late eighteenth-century bank of England’, Past and Present 236 (2017), 99–132; Judy Stephenson, ‘Looking for work? Or looking for workers? Days and hours of work in London construction in the eighteenth century’, Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History 162 (2018) 1–31.
31 Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 213–43.
32 Edward Thompson, ‘Time, work-discipline, and industrial capitalism’, Past and Present 38 (1967), 56–97. David Landes copy-pasted the argumentation in: David Landes, Revolution in time. Clocks and the making of the modern world (Cambridge, 2000), 240–42. For a more critical interpretation of the effects of the Industrial Revolution: Hailwood, ‘Time and work’, 87–121; Vanessa Ogle, ‘Time, temporality, and the history of capitalism’, Past and Present 243 (2019), 312–27; Jeremy Stein, ‘Reflections on time, time-space compression, and technology in the nineteenth century’, in Jon May and Nigel Thrift eds., TimeSpace. Geographies of temporality (London, 2001), 106–19; Dohrn-van Rossum, ‘Time’, 159–61.
33 Robert Darnton, The business of enlightenment. A publishing history of the encyclopédie (Cambridge, 1979), 220–7. A classic read is also Sidney Pollard, ‘Factory discipline in the industrial revolution’, The Economic History Review 16 (1963), 254–71.
34 The break/work ratio evolved from 2.4 before 1750 to 5.4 in 1750–1775, to 3.1 per cent from 1776–1790. Unfortunately, comparable figures are missing for London, as Hans-Joachim Voth did not retrace this information. Voth, Time and work.
35 More on the specific timing of breakfast in the early modern period: Alison Smith, ‘Family and domesticity’, in Kel Albala ed., A cultural history of food in the renaissance (London, 2012), 135–50; Gerrit Verhoeven, ‘Dining out! Food culture and social practices in late eighteenth-century Antwerp’, Food and History 14 (2016), 3–19.
36 FeA, V 122, Examination of Matheys Merckx, 5 May 1789.
37 Some illustrative examples: FeA, V 124, Examination of Francis Zander Mertens (13 September 1791); FeA, V 104, Examination of Abraham de Laet, 20 July 1753; FeA, V 109, Examination of Francis Elhofs, 14 July 1773. It is at odds with the classic stereotype of lazy and slothful early modern labourers. A more critical analysis: De Vries, ‘The industrial and industrious revolution’, 258.
38 Voth, Time and work, 129–32; Voth, ‘Time and work’, 34–5.
39 Some classic literature in this regard is Douglas Reid, ‘Weddings, weekdays, work and leisure in urban England, 1791–1911: the decline of Saint Monday revisited’, Past and Present 153 (1996), 135–63; Mark Harisson, ‘The ordering of the urban Environment: time, work and the occurrence of crowds, 1790–1835’, Past and Present 110 (1986), 134–68; David Landes, ‘Debate: the ordering of the urban environment: time, work and the occurrence of crowds, 1790–1835’, Past and Present 116 (1987), 192–9. According to the German expert Gehrard Dohrn-van Rossum, Saint-Monday was also widely observed in other parts of Europe. Dohrn-van Rossum, ‘Time’, 154.
40 Note that, even on Sunday, work did not completely come to a standstill. For similar evidence, see Hailwood, “Time and work”, 87–121. Judy Stephenson argues that Saint Monday was also only rarely observed among the construction workers of St. Paul's Cathedral in London: Stephenson, ‘Looking for work’, 16–7.
41 FeA, V 103, Examination of guilielmus Colember, 17 December 1752. Thanks to research by Johan Paukens on inns in the Austrian Netherlands, we know that Sunday was the most popular day to visit a public house. Monday was somewhat more popular than other weekdays, but the differences were fairly small.
42 Hans-Joachim Voth introduced this methodology in: Voth, Time and work, 125–8. Various tests show that the Antwerp findings are robust. For instance, the predictable value rises from 57.9 to 60.1 per cent between block 0 and block 1, while the Omnibus Test has a value of 0.00 and the Nagelkerke R square is 1.
43 Various indicators in the logit show that Monday was rather an ordinary weekday than a weekend day. The Wald values were, for example, much lower than on Sunday, while the Exp (B) (or the odds ratio of finding people at work were much higher during weekdays (including Monday) than on Sunday). Moreover, low significance levels reveal that these results are significant.
44 Looking at the incidence of pub-going in Hasselt (to the east Antwerp), Johan Poukens concluded that Monday was not really deviating from the norm. Pub-crawling traditionally reached its zenith on Sunday, while attendance was much lower on Monday. Johan Poukens, ‘Tijdspatronen van herbergbezoek in Hasselt en het prinsbisdom Luik (1500–1800)’, Jaarboek van het Limburgs Geschied- en Oudheidkundig Genootschap 146 (2010), 163–95.
45 Stephenson, ‘Looking for work’, 16–7; Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 227; Hailwood, ‘Time and work’, 87–121.
46 The Exp (B) – the odds ratio of working – shows a steady increase. Only Friday is a bit out of tune.
47 Voth, Time and work, 126–7; Landes, ‘Debate’, 196.
48 Calculations based on: FeA, IB 2584, Labourers at kasteel Ravenhof (1775–76).
49 Both the Wald as the Exp (B) values suggest that the odds of working on Monday decreased significantly during the late eighteenth-century.
50 Voth, Time and work, 127.
51 It is in line with Leonard Rosenband's conclusion that early modern craftsmen were already accustomed to long and strenuous hours long before the onset of industrialisation. Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 213–43.
52 More background on the importance of these holidays: Herman Freudenberg and Gaylord Cummins, ‘Health, work, and leisure before the industrial revolution’, Explorations in Economic History 13 (1976), 1–11; Schreiner, ‘Abwuerdigung der Feyertage’, 257–303; Vries, The industrious revolution, 85–8; Dohrn-van Rossum, ‘Time’, 154; Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 231–3; Ronald Hutton, The stations of the sun. A history of the ritual year in Britain (Oxford, 1996). For the Austrian Netherlands: Lambrecht, ‘Les fêtes religieuses’, 43–62.
53 Voth, Time and work, 142–9. This is at odds with Judy Stephenson's findings that the construction workers of St. Paul's had few if any holidays. Work only ceased around Christmas and Easter. Stephenson, ‘Looking for work’, 12–3.
54 Lambrecht, ‘Les fêtes religieuses’, 43–62; Schreiner, ‘Abwuerdiging’, 257–303.
55 Calculations based on: FeA, IB 2584, Labourers at kasteel Ravenhof (1775–76).
56 Thijs Lambrecht came to a similar conclusion in his research based on regulation, lists of fines and other sources: Lambrecht, ‘Les fêtes religieuses’, 43–62. For similar observations in Britain: Stephenson, ‘Looking for work’, 12–3.
57 Unfortunately, due to small-number statistics the predictable nature of the model is less reliable. With 0.000, the Omnibus test is good, but the Nagelkerke R Square is only 0.54 (while it should tend to 1). Likely, the instability of the model is caused by the low number of observations on feast-days (with 0.275, the results are not really significant).
58 Some examples in: FeA, V 105, Examination of Mathias Sicoti (24 December 1761); FeA, V 105, Examination of Pierre Baraux (24 December 1761).
59 Moretus’ payrolls were used for the best-case scenario, while the worst-case scenario was based on the gloomiest estimates from Catholic areas. Schreiner, ‘Abwuerdigung’, 257–303.
60 Lambrecht, ‘Les fêtes religieuses’, 43–62.
61 De Vries, The industrious revolution, 105–11; De Vries, ‘The industrial and industrious revolution’, 257–61.
62 Voth, Time and work, 149–52.
63 Allen and Weisdorf, ‘Was there an industrious revolution’, 715–29; Horrell, Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Working for a living’, 1–59; Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Unreal wages’, 1–18.
65 Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 215, 237.
66 Note that these figures are much higher than the traditional estimates about female labour participation. In a recent paper, Horrell, Humphries and Weisdorf estimate that women only worked one or two days a week (20–40 per cent of the male work load), while the Antwerp estimates point at more than 80 per cent. See Horrell, Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Working for a living?’, 1–59.
67 Blondé and Van Damme, ‘Retail growth’, 639–40; Laura Van Aert, Leven of overleven? Winkelhouden in crisistijd: de Antwerpse meerseniers (1648–1748) (Antwerp, 2008), 95–9; 156–7; Lis and Soly, Disordered lives, 44–50. For an international perspective on the debate about the inclusion or exclusion of women on early modern labour markets: Sheilagh Ogilvie, A bitter living. Women, markets, and social capital in early modern Germany (Oxford, 2003), 115–6, 141–55; 171–2; Laura Gowing, ‘The freedom of the streets: women and social space’, in Paul Griffiths and Mark S. R. Jenner eds., Londinopolis: essays in the cultural and social history of early modern London (Manchester, 2000), 130–51.
68 Women spent 3:52 hours on average on leisure, while men reported 6:33 hours. Hans-Joachim Voth also saw some highly gendered variations in paid work, household chores and leisure in London. Voth, Time and work, 149–52.
69 For instance: Wacjman, Judy, ‘Life in the fast lane? Towards a sociology of technology and time’, The British Journal of Sociology 59 (2008), 64–5Google Scholar; Glorieux, Minnen and Van Tienhoven, ‘Exploring the stable practices’, 745–62.
70 Van Aert, Leven of overleven?, 95–9; 156–7; Laura Van Aert, ‘The legal possibilities of Antwerp widows in the late sixteenth century’, History of the Family 12 (2007), 282–95.
71 De Vries, The industrious revolution, 87, 111. More evidence on this hypothesis: Horrell, Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Working for a living?, 1–59.
72 De Vries, The industrious revolution, 54–6.
73 Hans-Joachim Voth encourages such an interpretation: Voth, Time and work, 167–83, 280–96. Later on, these findings were integrated in de Vries’ hypothesis. De Vries, The industrious revolution, 92–3.
74 Allen and Weisdorf, ‘Was there an industrious revolution’, 715–29; Horrell, Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Working for a living’, 1–59; Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Unreal wages’, 1–18.
75 Freudenberg and Cummins, ‘Health, work, and leisure’, 1–11.
76 Rosenband, ‘The industrious revolution’, 213–43.
77 Stephenson, ‘Looking for work’, 26–8.
79 More on this hypothesis: Trentman, Empire of things, 74–5; Blondé and Ryckbosch, ‘In splendid isolation’, 105–24. Whether industriousness was really triggered by new consumption patterns remains also an open issue in: Humphries and Weisdorf, ‘Unreal wages?’, 18.
80 For this hypothesis: Bruno Blondé, ‘The straw mattresses of a love triangle: economic growth, social inequality and early modern consumer changes in the eighteenth century low countries’, ALCS seminar 2016.