Portrait of Anna Margaretha van Renesse van Elderen (1703-1775)
Portrait of Anna Margaretha van Renesse van Elderen (1703-1775)

Kitchen or Capital?

Elite women’s role in financial household and estate management in eighteenth-century Guelders
1 September 2021 until 30 September 2026
Project member(s)
R.M. Moes (Rozemarijn) Prof. T.H.G. Verhoeven (Dolly) Dr D.D.R. Raeymaekers (Dries) , Bochove, Christiaan van (Universiteit Utrecht)
Project type

What are now glamorous public castles, once were centers of business, buzzing with staff and industry. This PhD project focusses on elite women’s role in the management of these estates. The lower class women of the early modern Netherlands are known to have been active entrepreneurs, but did this extent to the more patriarchal nobility? Did elite women, as ladies of leisure, only engage in household management or were they involved in the businesses and capital that surrounded them? And what were the cultural, economic and temporal factors that determined this? With noble lifestyle and local economies dependent on good money management, elite women’s involvement could have been highly consequential.

By analyzing financial accounts of Guelders’ landed nobility in the eighteenth century, this research will reveal the daily involvement and responsibility of Dutch elite women and, more importantly, the dynamics behind it. The meticulous financial record keeping at many estates provide a unique opportunity to explore women’s roles in different economic domains at once: household, business, and capital. Using the accounting studies’ concept of accountability, this research will explore what ladies accounted themselves and what they were held responsible for. In doing so, it will add to our understanding both of women’s roles and lives in elite society and of financial agency of women in the early modern Netherlands in general.


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