From textiles to tobacco: Flemish industry in 1738.


Used Dataset:



December 2023



From textiles to tobacco: Flemish industry in 1738

How was industry faring in Flanders in the first half of the 18th century? Wouter Ryckbosch and Anne Winter (VUB) investigated industrial production and labor in nineteen Flemish towns in 1738. Using the industrial survey from that year, the results of which are available in STREAM, they examined the extent and nature of urban industries, the role of craft guilds, and local labor relations.

Their analysis confirms the dominance of textile production and guild crafts in the examined towns. The research also reveals the presence of industries focused on consumption, such as the manufacturing of glass, tobacco, and soap. While these industries were numerically marginal at the time, they would experience significant growth in the second half of the century. The study also indicates that these sectors were less organized on a craft guild basis and had a higher degree of proletarianization.


Ryckbosch, Wouter and Winter, Anne. “Between corporatism and capitalism? Urban industry and labor in eighteenth-century Flanders”, TSEG – The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 20 (2023): 37-80.