To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Throughout the ages, the activities of humankind have weighed considerably upon the environment. In turn, changes in that environment have favoured the rise of certain social groups and limited the actions of others. Nevertheless, environmental history has remained a “blind spot” for many social and economic historians. This is to be regretted, as changes in ecosystems have always had quite different consequences for different social groups. Indeed, the various and unequal effects of environmental change often explain the strengths and weaknesses of certain social groups, irrespective of their being defined along lines of class, gender, or ethnicity.
This Special Issue of the International Review of Social History aims to bring together the expertise of social and environmental historians. In the last few decades of the twentieth century, expanding holes in the ozone layer, global warming, and the accelerated pace of the destruction of the tropical forests have resulted in a worldwide recognition of two closely related processes: globalization and environmental change. The contributions to this volume provide striking case studies of such connections in earlier periods, revealing a fruitful interconnection between social and environmental history. This introduction provides a historiographical context for the essays that follow, focusing on the relevant notions connected with globalization and environmental change, and stressing the existing interactions between environmental and social history. We are particularly interested in the consequences of processes induced by globalization, how transnational forces and agents changed the socio-ecological space, and how that affected relationships between different classes in history.
The sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century was a period of expansion for most Dutch towns. By 1650, approximately 42 per cent of the almost 2 million inhabitants of the northern Netherlands lived in towns numbering at least 2,500. Urban concentrations were strongest in the maritime western provinces; in the province of Holland alone, which included about two-fifths of the total Dutch population, the proportion living in towns came to 61 per cent. Although inland the population was less concentrated, the overall rate of urbanisation (taking 2,500 as the urban threshold) was still between 20 and 30 per cent.
Most historians link seventeenth-century Dutch wealth and power to the simultaneous rise of trade and the political co-operation of Holland's urban elites. The countryside is seen as being carried along with the towns, with a similar display of rising commercialisation and specialisation and a general increase in labour productivity. What this picture leaves out is the relation between town and country and, more specifically, the control exerted by Dutch towns over their surrounding countryside. Most urban histories treat the towns as if they were islands and leave out the surrounding hinterland, whereas agrarian historians generally evade the issue of urban control. Both the dominance of urban elites in ‘high politics’ and the countryside's prosperity are taken for granted, even though the extensive privileges and political rights towns were often directed against rural trade and industry.