Stay of Execution, PhD dissertation defense of Maurits den Hollander

On 22nd of June 2021, Maurits den Hollander will publicly defend his PhD dissertation Stay of Execution. Institutions and Insolvency Legislation in Amsterdam, 1578-1700.


This dissertation analyses how insolvency legislation influenced the lives and work of Amsterdam citizens between 1578 and 1700, with a central focus on its highly innovative subsidiary court for insolvency cases, the Desolate Boedelskamer. In the decades after its introduction in 1643, it integrated existing legal practices into a new, transparent and professional procedure. This hybrid institution effectively combined public and private order solutions for economic disputes between both citizens and foreigners. Through a differentiated treatment of insolvencies in which a composition or akkoord could be reached, and those in which the only viable option formed an application for the benefice of cessio bonorum, both international merchants and citizens from the broad middle classes were empowered to revive their businesses and to contribute to the civic community. Through its tailor-made solutions for the problem of insolvency, the Amsterdam Desolate Boedelskamer delivered a vital contribution to the restoration of inter-personal trust and the proliferation of credit even beyond the zenith of its seventeenth-century ‘golden age’.


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Painting Thomas de Keyzer, Odyseus and Nausicaa, 1657; this painting, which hung in the Insolvency Chamber of Amsterdam represented clemency toward debtors on behalf of their creditors