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Journal of World History 7.2 (1996) 309-312

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Europeans on the Move: Studies on European Migration, 1500- 1800. Edited by Nicholas Canny. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. Pp. xii + 329. $59.

Migration research has reached a level that calls for syntheses, and an inflation of similar titles suggests the urgency. Europeans on the Move, edited by Nicholas Canny, follows L.P.Moch's Moving Euro-peans: Migration in Western Europe since 1650 (Bloomington, Ind., 1992) and Dirk Hoerder's People on the Move: Migration, Acculturation, and Ethnic Interaction in Europe and North America (Washington, D.C., 1993). Moch's study begins with 1650; the volume Canny has edited pushes the time frame back to 1500. Until recently research was concentrated on the nineteenth-century labor migrations. Now numerous scholars recognize that European societies before the age of democratic revolution were highly mobile. A larger fraction of the population moved in the seventeenth century than in the eighteenth. Geographically, the syntheses remain confined to western and west-central Europe as well as Spain. Brief references to Portugal and occasional mention of Poland in Canny's volume indicate the lacunae. For east-central, southeastern, and eastern Europe, an increasing amount of published research is available, though a synthesis has not yet been attempted.

The studies published in Europeans on the Move first deal with medieval background and the early Spanish transatlantic moves, then turn to a country-by-country analysis of migration processes. The first two essays, on migrations in the Middle Ages (S.Phillips) and Spain (N.Sánchez-Albornoz), are short summaries of developments, almost too short in view of the high level of mobility. Concisely argued, they provide the essentials in the case of Spain, some of the essentials in the case of pre-1500 mobility. Portuguese developments, for which Canny unfortunately could not find a contributor, are briefly but ably summarized in his conclusion to the volume. In the essay on Spain, the moves to the Americas merit more analysis than internal moves, while the other essays balance study of intra-European moves with analysis of outflow to the colonies. This emphasis is in keeping with the paradigmatic [End Page 309] change of recent research. Rather than considering the migration "to America" as the epochal development, the continuity of mobility within Europe—with changes of destination—and the recasting of the outward flow from transatlantic to transoceanic into colonial areas worldwide loom paramount.

Three essays deal with the British Isles. Canny presents a well-reasoned critical assessment of the literature on England, subjecting quantitative studies and arguments to a review of consistency and plausibility. Contrary to common assumptions, seventeenth-century English migration to Ireland was more important than that to the Chesapeake, which increasingly became a destination for Scots, and to the West Indies, where more and more Irish arrived. Thus, Canny succeeds in disaggregating the British migration into its components, giving due recognition to the Scottish and Irish communities in North America and the West Indies. The study of Scottish migration (by T.C.Smout, N.C.Landsman, and T.M.Devine) in an encyclopedic sweep discusses Scots in Scandinavia, Poland, France, the Netherlands, and Russia. Turning to the better known moves, a clear expo-sition of the early migration to Ulster is followed by analysis of the eighteenth-century departures from the highlands as compared to those from the lowlands. As regards Ireland (L.M.Cullen), in-migration of Scots and their moves out; regional differences in the emigration of Irish servants, soldiers, and agricultural laborers; and temporary migrations to many parts of the world form an interactive whole that remains difficult to follow, even for the informed reader. Maps and perhaps summarizing paragraphs might have helped, though at the cost of simplifying the multiple moves.

On the continent, the Netherlands, Germany, and France are studied. J.Lucassen's research shows how the small, highly urbanized Dutch coastal areas attracted migrants from a catchment basin that had separate segments for poorly paid and better paid workers and for soldiers. It was supplemented and...


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