Judging Migrants

Towards a new research agenda on social control, local conflict and the judicial position of migrants in the early modern Dutch Republic


  • Karlijn Luk Universiteit Leiden
  • Samantha Sint Nicolaas International Institute of Social History




Migration, Crime/Conflict, Social Control, Uses of Justic, Crimmigration, Early Modern Dutch Republic


The Dutch Golden Age is often referred to as a prime example of Dutch tolerance with regard to the ‘open’ policies towards migration and the harmonious co-existence of migrants with their local neighbours. Considering that, before 1800, migrants made up approximately 25-60 percent of the urban communities of the early modern Dutch Republic, and that there is evidence of the rise of many stereotypes about these migrants, this rosy picture of Dutch tolerance is drawn into question. How exactly this tension between tolerance and the persistence of these stereotypes played out in the daily realities of migrants living in early modern Dutch cities remains an understudied area of research. This article identifies the overlaps between existing research in the fields of migration history, urban history and social legal history, as well as the areas in which these approaches can further supplement each other. It does so in order to plead the case for the benefits of an integrated history of crime and migration in uncovering new evidence, themes and patterns in the social history of (urban) migration in the early modern Dutch Republic.


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Author Biographies

Karlijn Luk, Universiteit Leiden

Karlijn Luk studied history in Nijmegen. She finished the Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies Research Master in 2019 with a thesis on the politics of humour and imaging in early modern Dutch farces that specialized in ridiculing German immigrants. In 2020, she started her current PhD project at Leiden University on conflicts between migrants and locals in Leiden and Rotterdam between 1600 and 1800, as part of the NWO project ‘Tolerant Migrant Cities? The case of Holland 1600-1900’.

Samantha Sint Nicolaas, International Institute of Social History

Samantha Sint Nicolaas is a PhD candidate at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam and Leiden University. She studied her BA in History at Durham University (UK) and completed her MA in Cultural History at Utrecht University in 2018. Between 2019 and 2020 she worked as a junior researcher at the IISH on the project ‘Exploring Slave Trade in Asia’. In 2020 she began working on her PhD project which looks at the position of migrants before the criminal justice court of early modern Amsterdam, as part of the NWO-funded project ‘Tolerant Migrant Cities? The Case of Holland, 1600-1900.’




How to Cite

Luk, K., & Sint Nicolaas, S. (2023). Judging Migrants: Towards a new research agenda on social control, local conflict and the judicial position of migrants in the early modern Dutch Republic. TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.52024/tseg.8458