|Criminality, Social Networks and Integration in the Norwegian Society of Amsterdam, 1640-1700|
|In the early modern period, the coastal regions of Norway witnessed an extensive female migration to Amsterdam; thousands of women travelled overseas hoping for a future in the Netherlands. Many did find the better lives they searched for, but a large number ended up in the criminal circuits of Amsterdam. The lives, fates and the social networks of these women are some themes of my PhD research. The Norwegian female criminality in Amsterdam will be approached by looking at the following questions: what was the nature of the crimes committed by the Norwegian women? In what ways were existing social networks, established by groups of foreigners already living in Amsterdam, used by these criminals? What connections existed between the criminal migrants in Amsterdam and criminal networks in other Dutch cities, like Hoorn? Could the criminality in the migrant society of Amsterdam be a result of a failed integration?
The two main sources for this research are the Amsterdam criminal records and the engagement registers. The criminal records are the principal source for this research: they form a collection of detailed testimonies of the accused women. These testimonies show that the foreign criminal women frequently operated within the foreign neighbourhood they lived in and they were often actively part of foreign criminal networks both within and outside Amsterdam. Hoorn, a small coastal city north of Amsterdam, is one of the cities often mentioned by the Norwegian criminals.
The second valuable source used is the engagement registers. When a couple wanted to marry, they first had to register at the city hall. These registers show that the majority of the Norwegian migrant-women married other foreigners, mainly Scandinavian and German sailors. Secondly the registers show that most of the women lived in a small neighbourhood in the western outskirts of Amsterdam, well known for its large population of poor foreigners and its high rates of criminality. The engagement registers from the 1640ís and onwards also offers us a detailed picture of the social networks of the marrying couple, through the information provided of the witnesses used by the couple. Since many of the criminal women were married or widowed, they can be traced in the engagement register.
By analyzing the criminal records and combining them with the information provided in the engagement registers, it is possible to perceive detailed life stories of many of the criminal Norwegian women. This can be used to reconstruct how the social networks were structured and how these networks were exploited by the criminals. Also it is possible to analyze to which extent these criminal migrant women were integrated in the Dutch society. Although Amsterdam in the early modern period is often seen as a tolerant place where foreigners and indigenous people lived side by side, for the many poor foreigners this was not the case: integration was anything but complete. In my paper I will show that there might be a correlation between the failure to integrate and the excessive rate of criminality in Amsterdam in the early modern period.