The business of consuls in the eighteenth and nineteenth century



Silvia Marzagalli (University of Nice ), The correspondence of the Swedish consul in Marseille, François Philippe Fölsch (1780-1807): the cohabitation of State service, patronage relations and personal interests

François Philippe Fölsch, a Protestant merchant of Marseille of Hanseatic origin, succeeded to his father as Swedish consul in Marseille in 1780. His family held the consular office in Marseille over five generations. Together with other colleagues, we are preparing a two-volume edition of Fölsch’s correspondence to the State Council in Stockholm (1780-1807). The analysis of his correspondence provides a deep insight in the information process provided by consuls at that time. Fölsch collected information through his merchant, free-mason, and consular networks, selected what he considered proper to transmit, and accompanied information with explanation and suggestions. In doing so, he presented himself as the right man at the right place. While fostering in his discourse the protection of Swedish trade and shipping interests, he placed himself in a patronage relation with his superiors, asking and obtaining favors for himself and his son. This case study, thus, rises a series of broader questions on 18th-century consulates, their functions, and their personnel. Consular studies make it also possible to shed light on the relation between State service and personal strategies.

 Silvia Marzagalli is full-time professor for Early Modern History at the University of Nice, France, and senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France. Her research deals with merchant networks, shipping and trade, and consular information in 18th and early 19th century Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds. Her most recent books (2015) deal with United States’ shipping to Bordeaux (Bordeaux et les États-Unis, 1776 – 1815 : politique et stratégies négociantes dans la genèse d’un réseau commercial) and with consular information (Les consuls en Méditerranée, agents d’information, XVIe-XXe siècle, ed. by).  She is presently working on US shipping in the Mediterranean and editing, together with other colleagues, the 1780-1807 correspondence of the Swedish consul in Marseille.

Leos Müller (Stockholm University), Swedish Consular Service and Shipping under the Neutral Flag in the Mediterranean, c. 1770- 1800

In the period of Anglo-French Wars (1756-1815) Nordic  countries kept neutrlaity and so they became important carriers of goods to and between belligerents. Sweden and Denmark carried all kinds of goods in the Mediterranean, and as neutral carriers they even entered the Atlantic trades. Swedish consuls in Lisbon and Cadiz played a key role in this business by providing information about political situation, profitable opportunities and risks. They even functioned as   commission agents of. Swedish ship owners and merchants. The paper will illustrate  the role of Swedish consuls in the wartime conditions.

Leos Müller is Professor of History and the Director of the Centre for Maritime Studies, Stockholm University.  His research interests include Sweden’s maritime history, neutrality and maritime violence, and global history. His  publications include Consuls, Corsairs, and Commerce. The Swedish Long-distance Shipping, 1720-1815 (2004) and most recently edited volume on Sweden's consuls, I främmande hamn – Den svenska och svensk-norska konsulstjänsten 1700-1985 (In foreign port - The Swedish and Swedish-Norwegian consular service 1700-1985, 2015).

Ferry de Goey (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Consuls and international relations in the nineteenth century

Diplomatic historians neglect to study consuls and their role in international relations. They assume that only diplomats performed important political duties, while consuls took care of routine duties, including stimulating trade and resolving conflicts between nationals. This distinction between diplomats and consuls does not reflect historical reality. Depending on their location, consuls performed many different duties during the ‘long nineteenth century’. In nonwestern countries this included political and judicial duties, besides their economic duties. In western countries consuls performed mainly economic duties, but sometimes engaged in a quasi-diplomatic role. An accurate analysis of diplomatic history and international relations must therefore include the role of consuls. Besides studying the economic duties of consuls, we must examine their political role.

Ferry de Goey is Assistant Professor of Modern Western History. His research interests are economic history, global history and international relations. He is currently investigating western views on the Coolie Trade , c. 1840-1920. Recent publications include: ‘Western merchants in the Foreign Settlements of Japan (c. 1850-1890)’, in U. Bosma and A. Webster (Eds.), Commodities, Ports and Asian Maritime Trade c. 1750-1950, (Palgrave MacMillan: London, 2015) pp. 112-127;; (with Jacques van Gerwen): ‘An Entrepreneurial Perspective: Varieties of Capitalism and Entrepreneurs in the Twentieth Century’, in K.E. Sluyterman, K.E. (Ed.), Varieties of Capitalism and Mechanisms of Change in an Open Economy: The Dutch Case (Routledge: New York, 2015) pp. 78-103; ‘Konsuler och den institutionella revolutionen’, in A. Makko and L. Müller (Red.), I Främmande hamn. Den svenska och svensk-norska konsulstjänsten 1700-1985 (Universus Academic Press; Malmö, 2015) pp. 37-55; Consuls and the Institutions of Capitalism, 1783-1914 (Pickering & Chatto Publishers: London, 2014).