Informations and abstract
In the early modern period state initiatives expanded the regulation of the lives of everyday Europeans. Yet these initiatives often operated through local communities. In the area of migration control, in which migrants played a role in how their lives were regulated and how they interacted with communities, this was particularly striking. In the first section of this article I show that the central authorities in Scotland, England, France and the Dutch Republic all opted for local approaches to regulating migration. I then consider the institutions and norms with which different localities in these regions managed migration, which, I demonstrate, were open to manipulation by migrants and even reveal some accommodation to migrant norms. The increasing range of statuses and local resources that northern European urban communities made available to persons who did not enjoy the benefits of full citizenship also suggests a willingness to include migrants. I conclude with a set of biographical case-studies of Scots migrants to the Dutch port of Rotterdam. I demonstrate that these migrants used notaries public and the Scots Church of Rotterdam consistory as fora in which they told and legitimized stories to solidify their social position in Rotterdam. Far from discouraging migration, local migration controls seemed to encourage it in early modern northern Europe. The challenge for historians now is to explain why local definition of community membership in northern Europe lost favor in the modern era.