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Poverty and Welfare Among the Portuguese Jews in Early Modern Amsterdam$
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Tirtsah Levie-Bernfeld

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113577

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113577.001.0001

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Migration of the Poor

Migration of the Poor

(p.13) Chapter Two Migration of the Poor
Poverty and Welfare Among the Portuguese Jews in Early Modern Amsterdam

Tirtsah Levie Bernfeld

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses the arrival in to and departure from Amsterdam of poor migrants and the underlying reasons for their movements. The early modern period saw thousands of people, Jews among them, emigrate from their home countries and travel in search of a new life. Some were forced to leave by war, persecution, or economic difficulties; others were attracted by the work made available by new state or mercantile policies. The chapter then looks at the admissions policy of the Amsterdam Portuguese community and casts light on the city's role as a transit port. The city's tolerant immigration policy carried a number of risks, the most obvious of which was that it would be burdened with a large influx of paupers. However, the city seemed undeterred by this. Nevertheless, the city did take a few preventive measures from the last decades of the sixteenth century onwards. For example, undesirable elements were banned from the city, and the authorities laid down that all immigrants must have resided in Amsterdam for a specified period before they could claim poor relief from the city or from the Reformed Charity Board. Over time, eligibility for poor relief was made conditional on increasingly long periods of residence, along with more and more stringent restrictions of other kinds.

Keywords:   Amsterdam, poor migrants, Amsterdam Portuguese community, transit port, immigration policy, paupers, immigrants, poor relief

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