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van Bavel, Bas


Academic Title

Prof. Dr.

Full Name

Bas van Bavel / B.J.P. van Bavel

Date of Birth




Profile text

My research activities focus on reconstructing, analyzing, and explaining economic growth and social change in pre-industrial northwestern Europe, emphasizing long-term transitions and regional diversity, and using comparative analysis – both over time and across regions – as the main tool. Recently, I extended the geographical comparison to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and became interested in drawing some of the main lines into the modern period. I have become particularly interested in the organization and functioning of land, lease and labour markets, and their effects on the economy, and on social and ecological sustainability. This forms a main element in my research aimed at better understanding the interaction of economy, society and institutions, and the protracted changes in this interaction, which led to the divergencies found in the world today.



+31 (0) 30 2536410


+31 (0) 30 2536391



Working Days


Office Hours

On appointment

Visiting Address

Drift 6, Utrecht, room 1.17

Post Address

Drift 6 3512 BS Utrecht

Curriculum Vitae

  • Student, History, Utrecht University, 1982-1988
  • Ph.D student, Utrecht University, 1989-1993
  • Ph.D.: 29 October 1993, Utrecht University
  • University Lecturer, Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1993-1995
  • Research fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), based at the Univer­siteit van Amster­dam, 1995-1998
  • Visiting postdoc fellow, FWO-Flan­de­rs and Ne­therlands Organisation for Scientific Research, based at the Univer­si­teit Gent, Belgium, 1998-1999
  • Postdoc researcher, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, based at the Universiteit van Amster­dam, 1999-2001
  • Research leader, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, based at the Depart­ment of History, Universiteit Utrecht, 2001-2006 and 2007-present
  • Professor of Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages, Utrecht University, 2007-present
  • Head of the section Economic and Social History, Utrecht University, 2010 - present



Latest book:


Manors and Markets. Economy and Society in the Low Countries, 500-1600 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010)  492 pp. website OUP

view part of this book

view synopsis of the book and special issue of TSEG on the book



Latest edited volume:


Emerging and Declining Markets for Land, Labour and Capital: Iraq from c. 700 BC to c. 1100 AD, theme issue Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57.2 (2014).



Selected articles (click to view full text)


  • New perspectives on factor markets and ancient Middle Eastern economies: a survey’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57.2 (2014) pp. 145-172.
  • (with Michele Campopiano & Jessica Dijkman), Factor markets in early Islamic Iraq, c. 600-1100 AD’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57.2 (2014) pp. 262-289.
  • (with Jessica Dijkman, Erikca Kuijpers & Jaco Zuijderduijn, The organisation of markets​ as a key factor in the rise of Holland from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century: a test case for an institutional approach', Continuity and Change, 27.3 (2012) pp. 347-378.
  • Markets for land, labor, and capital in northern Italy and the Low Countries, twelfth to seventeenth centuries', Journal of Interdisciplinary History 41 (2011) pp. 503-531.
  • 'The medieval origins of capitalism in the Netherlands', BMGN / LCHR 125 (2010) pp. 45-79.
  • (with Oscar Gelderblom), 'The economic origins of cleanliness in the Dutch Golden Age', Past & Present 205 (Oxford University Press, 2009) pp. 41-69.
  • ‘The organization and rise of land and lease markets in northwestern Europe and Italy, c. 1000-1800’, Continuity & Change 23 (Cambridge University Press, 2008) pp. 13-53.
  • The transition in the Low Countries. Wage labour as an indicator of the rise of capitalism in the countryside, 14th-17th centuries’, in: P. Coss, C. Dyer & C. Wickham (eds.), Rodney Hilton’s Middle Ages. Past & Present Supplement 2 (Oxford University Press, 2007) pp. 286-303.
  • Rural wage labour in the 16th-century Low Countries: an assessment of the importance and nature of wage labour in the countryside of Holland, Guelders and Flanders’, Continuity & Change 21 (Cambridge University Press, 2006) pp. 37-72.
  • (with J.L. van Zanden), ‘The jump-start of the Holland economy during the late-medieval crisis, c. 1350 – c. 1500’, Economic History Review 57 (Blackwell, 2004) pp. 503-532.
  • 'Early proto-industrialization in the Low Countries? The importance and nature of market-oriented non-agricultural activities on the countryside in Flanders and Holland', Belgisch tijdschrift voor filologie en geschiedenis / Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire 81.4 (2003) pp. 181-237.
  • 'People and land. Rural population developments and property structures in the Low Countries, c. 1300 - c. 1600', Continuity & Change 17 (Cambridge University Press, 2002) pp. 9-37.
  • 'Land, lease and agriculture. The transition of the rural economy in the Dutch river area (fourteenth - sixteenth centu­ries)', Past & Present 172 (Oxford University Press, 2001) pp. 3-43.


  • Manors and Markets. Economy and Society in the Low Countries, 500-1600 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010)  492 pp.
  • Transitie en continuïteit. De bezitsverhoudingen en de platte­lands-economie in het westelijke gedeelte van het Gelderse rivierengebied (ca. 1300 - ca. 1570). Werken van Gelre 52 (Verloren, Hilversum, 1999) 720 pp.
  • Goederenverwerving en goederenbeheer van de abdij Ma­riënweerd (1129-1592) (Verloren, Hilver­sum, 1993) 628 pp.


Published bundles

  • Emerging and Declining Markets for Land, Labour and Capital: Iraq from c. 700 BC to c. 1100 AD, theme issue Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57.2 (2014).
  • (with Erik Thoen), Rural societies and environments at risk. Ecology, property rights and social organisation in fragile areas, Middle Ages-twentieth century (Brepols, Turnhout, 2013) 329 pp.
  • (with R.W. Hoyle), Social relations: Property and Power. Rural economy and society in Northwestern Europe, 500-2000 (Brepols, Turnhout, 2010) 375 pp.
  • (with M. de Moor & J.L. van Zanden), The Rise, Organization and Institutional Framework of Factor Markets. Special issues of Continuity & Change 23.1 (2008) and 24.1 (2009) 201 pp.
  • (with P. Schofield), The Development of Leasehold in Northwestern Europe, 1200-1600. CORN Publication Series 10 (Brepols, Turnhout, 2008) 213 pp.
  • (with P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers), Landholding and Land Transfer in the North Sea Area (late Middle Ages - 19th Century). CORN Publication Series 5 (Brepols, Turnhout, 2004)  292 pp.
  • (with L. Lucassen), Lange lijnen, fraaie vergezichten. Middeleeuwse perspectieven voor de sociale en economische geschiedenis. Special issue of Tijdschrift voor sociale geschiedenis 28-2 (Verloren, Hilversum, 2002) 126 pp.
  • (with G. van Herwijnen & C.L. Verkerk), Land, water en bewoning: Waterstaats- en ederzettingsgeschiedenis in de Zeeuwse en Hollandse delta in de Middeleeuwen. Een keuze uit de verspreide opstellen van Peter A. Henderikx (Verloren, Hilversum, 2001) 351 pp.
  • (with E. Thoen), Land Productivity and Agro-Systems in the North Sea Area (Middle Ages - 20th Centu­ry): Elements For Compari­son. CORN Publication Series 2 (Brepols, Turnhout, 1999) 382 pp.


Project desciption
















































Themes of Education

Selection of themes
  • Armenzorg in laat-middeleeuws Utrecht
    Historisch ambacht
  • Middeleeuwse bronnen
  • Huishouding, verwantschap en feodaliteit rond Limburgse kastelen
  • Middeleeuwse geschiedenis: Capita Selecta
  • Geschiedenis van de Nederlanden in de Middeleeuwen
  • Boer en markt
  • Holland in de aanloop naar de Gouden Eeuw
  • Macht en markt
  • Europese cultuurgeschiedenis
  • Middeleeuwen
  • De Zwarte Dood
  • Inleiding economische geschiedenis
  • De worsteling om het bestaan: leven en samenleven in Europa door de eeuwen heen
  • Sociaal-economische geschiedenis van de late Middeleeuwen
  • Long-term development of rural economies and societies, 13th-19th centuries
  • Growth and Inequality, Middle Ages and Early Modern Period
  • Socio-Economic History
  • Wereldgeschiedenis
  • Werelden van de Islam

    These courses are taught at the History Department (Utrecht University and University of Amsterdam), Economics (UU) and University College (UU), BA and MA level, and postdoctoral level

Current Education Activities


Sideline Activities

Co-ordinator of the Utrecht University focus area "Origins and impact of institutions"

Interesting Links


Economic and social history, pre-industrial period, long term transitions

Working Papers

link to open itemA Land of Milk and Butter: The Economic Origins of Cleanliness in the Dutch Golden Age

Research Projects

link to open itemCoordinating for life. Success and failure of Western European societies in coping with rural hazards and disasters, 1300-1800
link to open itemEconomic growth and stagnation in the pre-industrial era: Iraq, Italy, and the Low Countries
link to open itemLanded property and property rights
link to open itemPower, markets and economic development: the rise, organization and institutional framework of markets in Holland, 11th -16th centuries


link to open itemEconomic and social history
link to open itemPreindustrial period


Bavel_Bas_van_The_ _Medieval_Origins_of_Capitalism_in_the_Netherlands.pdf    
TSEG 2011-2_Debat Van Bavel.pdf    
Van Bavel and Gelderblom on Dutch Cleanliness (Past and Present 205 November 2009).pdf    
Created at 20-8-2008 11:23 by Luijt, M. van (Martin)
Last modified at 7-4-2014 10:40 by Bavel, B.J.P. van (Bas)
Department: van Bavel, Bas