In 1875, the city council of Brussels wrote a report on the hostile public opinion towards itinerant trading, when drafting a set of regulations concerning this type of commerce. The authorities concluded that many other European cities, when confronted with the danger of a supposedly disordered public space, had imposed a repressive social policy towards hawkers who wandered the city streets. This article aims to analyse policies concerning the itinerant trade in Brussels during the nineteenth century by studying their regulations, intentions as well as their effects on the commercial activities of the hawkers. Based on an investigation of police archives and administrative documents (especially the Bulletin Communal de la Ville de Bruxelles), this article seeks to question several aspects of these policies: What measures did the Brussels city council take in terms of restraining itinerant trading? What were its motives? Was the social policy efficient? Did it change over time and if so, how? Finally, this article seeks to discover whether or not the ideal of a clean and well-ordered public space played a significant role in the decision-making process.


En 1875, les autorités urbaines de Bruxelles rédigèrent un rapport concernant l’opinion publique hostile face aux échoppes mobiles, lors de la rédaction d’un règlement sur le colportage. Les autorités conclurent que maintes villes européennes, confrontées au danger supposé de désordre de l’espace public, lançaient une politique répressive visà-vis du commerce ambulant. L’article vise à analyser le processus de décision sociopolitique concernant le commerce ambulant à Bruxelles au XIXe siècle, en étudiant les lois, les intentions et les effets sur les marchands ambulants. Sur la base des archives policières et de documents administratifs (notamment le Bulletin communal de la Ville de Bruxelles), l’article se propose d’explorer les questions suivantes : Quelles furent les mesures prises afin – ou non – d’abolir ou prohiber le commerce ambulant ? Quels en furent les motifs ? La politique sociale fut-elle efficace ? La politique changea-t-elle au cours du XIXe siècle ? Finalement, l’article tente de comprendre si l’idée d’un espace public net et ordonné, dans lequel les marchands ambulants n’avaient pas leur place, guida les autorités urbaines de Bruxelles.


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pp. 53-64
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