Fundamental and incomparable differences in traffic conditions aside, people in late medieval and early modern Europe showed even more mobility than people do in today’s world. The majority of people was on the move, for most various motives und purposes, heading to a wide range of destinations nearby or far away. This mobility shaped numerous migration traditions and migration systems. Migration historians Jan and Leo Lucassen identified more than seven long-distance labor migration systems in early modern Europe, with the transnational movement of the ‘Hollandgänger’ (agrarian labor migrants from western parts of Germany heading to the Netherlands) as one of the most important systems. Within labor migration systems, small business men formed out their own migration systems, spanning the whole of Europe from France in the west to Russia in the east. At the dawn of industrialization, these migration systems came to an end or were transformed by new ones, e.g. the agrarian North Sea system was replaced by the industrial ‘Ruhr system,’ and while the system of ‘Hollandgänger’ from the western parts of Germany declined, the new migrant labor system of industrial and agrarian ‘Preußengänger’ (migrants to Prussia) came to the fore.
This article is in German / Dieser Artikel ist auf Deutsch.