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Can food quality lead to conflicts? Focusing on the butter trade from the Northern Low Countries to Cologne during the 15th century, this is the question Nicholas Brunmayr (Université Libre de Bruxelles) aims to answer in his paper.

Event details of Quality Regulations in the Netherlandish Butter Trade to Cologne and their Implications on Economic Conflicts during the mid-15th century
Date 19 January 2023
Time 15:30 -16:30

Since the late 14th century, Holland’s and West-Friesland’s butter formed a non-negligible export product, transiting in majority through Deventer and having Cologne and Western Germany as main customers. In 1463, an economic conflict broke out between Holland’s cities and Deventer, after the Hollanders decided to boycott Deventer’s important annual market. This decision was taken shortly after Deventer issued a new edict, which prescribed tighter controls for butter shipments, and was meant to respond to Cologne’s multiple complaints over the last years about frequent quality problems. According to Deventer, Holland’s conflictual move was directly linked to the new edict. This is also what can be read in some of the scientific publications that evoked the case. Reviewing these publications and examining evidence from Cologne and elsewhere, this paper retraces the way butter quality was regulated over long distances and determines whether food quality was the ‘true’ motive of the Holland-Deventer conflict.