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"The Danish Flag in the Mediterranean Shipping and " Topic

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249 hits since 6 Aug 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0107 Aug 2017 8:57 p.m. PST

…Trade, 1747-1807.

"In the last half of the eighteenth century the merchant marine under Danish flag experienced a brief flowering which made it one of the largest in Europe after Britain and France and on a par with the Netherlands. In terms of tonnage pr. capita Denmark had about 50% more than Britain. The most remarkable and least studied part of this expansion was in the Mediterranean. Before the 1740s, Danish ships had sailed to the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal regularly, but seldom beyond Setubal (St. Ubes), and only very occasionally did a well-armed vessel venture into the Mediterranean. The danger of capture by North African corsairs was too great, and ships carrying guns, and sailors to man them, were not competitive. But between 1746 and 1753, Denmark concluded treaties with the Barbary States, and soon the Mediterranean had become a very important area of operation for Danish ships. During the Seven Years War the annual number rose to around 200, almost doubled during the War of American Independence, and doubled again during the Revolutionary Wars. The high point came in 1794 with almost 800 departures. Out of 20,500 voyages beyond Cap Finisterre between 1747 and 1807, by ships under Danish flag, there were about 15,000 departures for the Mediterranean.

The present thesis has two aims:
1: A descriptive survey of Danish Mediterranean shipping 1747-1807. The number of annual departures, the routes to the Mediterranean, the most important ports in the Mediterranean, the typical routes and cargoes.
2: An analysis of the reasons for the success of the Danish merchant marine. In the Danish historiography there have been two schools of thought on this issue. One has linked the expansion to Denmark's policy of neutrality which apart from brief skirmishes kept the country out of the big great power wars between 1720 and 1807 when the British bombardment of Copenhagen forced the country into the Napoleonic Wars on the French side. While competitors were forced to remain in harbour or preyed upon in the seas, Danish ships took over their markets. The other school has not denied the importance of neutrality, but also pointed to Danish advantages of a more economic nature. Low wages, low rate of interest, access to cheap materials for ship building, and an advantageous location of the important route from the Baltic with strategic materials.

The first section of the thesis deals with the prehistory, most importantly the treaties with the Barbary States of Algiers, Tunis, Tripolis and Morocco 1746-1753. It is emphasized that the policies of Danmark and these states must be considered rational and based upon common interest, and that Denmark never did possess the military strength to defeat them. A chapter about the creation of privileged companies to exploit the new market establish trade between Denmark and the Mediterranean concludes that these failures showed the limits of what was feasible in Danish commercial policy, and that the economic structure of Denmark and the Mediterranean area made it logical that the Danish activity was concentrated on offering the transport services of Danish ships to others, and that the operators were small part owned companies…"
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