The crisis that hit hard parts of Flanders in the 1840s was the result of a long development and a combination of various factors. Historians blame the depression on the decline of the cottage industry, social inequality, high population pressure, fragmentation of land ownership and a series of crop failures. In a contribution to the recently published book “Histoire rurale de l’Europe, XVIe-XXe siècle”, Wouter Ronsijn (Bocconi University of Milan and Ghent University) examines the different causes from a long-term perspective and points to the important role that the prices and wages played in the crisis. Due to the sharp fall in revenues from the outdated linen industry on the one hand and the rise in food prices on the other, many families were no longer able to make ends meet and many ended up in poverty. Wouter Ronsijn bases his findings on an extensive series of figures, including data on agriculture, industry and property relationships from LOKSTAT and POPPKAD.
Ronsijn, Wouter. “Alternance d’effets de ciseaux dans l’espace rural de la Flandre intérieure, XVIIIe – XIX siècle”, in Histoire rurale de l’Europe, XVIe-XXe siècle, edited by Laurent Herment (ed.), 203-229. Paris: EHESS, 2019.