Louis De Geer (1587–1652)

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Louis De Geer
David Beck - Louis De Geer d.a. 1587-1657.jpg
Louis De Geer portraited by David Beck
Born(1587-11-17)17 November 1587
Died19 June 1652(1652-06-19) (aged 64)
Nationality Dutch

Louis De Geer (17 November 1587 – 19 June 1652) was a Netherlandish entrepreneur and industrialist of Walloon origin. An early pioneer of outward foreign direct investment in the early modern period, he is considered by many as the father of Swedish industry for introducing Walloon blast furnaces in Sweden. He produced cannons for the German Protestant movement, the Dutch navy and the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. [1] [2]

De Geer family

De Geer is a family of Walloon origin that belongs to the Swedish and Dutch nobility.

Walloons French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia

Walloons are a Romance ethnic group native to Belgium, principally its southern region of Wallonia, who speak French and Walloon. Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium. Important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people.

A foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country. It is thus distinguished from a foreign portfolio investment by a notion of direct control.


De Geer was born in Liège, Belgium. He was the son of the iron industrialist and merchant Louis de Geer de Gaillarmont (1535-1602), and Jeanne de Neille (1557-1641). His father had previously (1563) been married to Maria de Jalhéa (died 1578). In 1592, one of De Geer's half-sisters, Marie de Geer (1574-1609) married Elias Trip  [ nl ] (1569-1636), a Dutch merchant and a director of the Dutch East India Company who lived in Dordrecht. Presumably due to ongoing turmoil in the Prince-Bishopric of Liège as well as his conversion to Protestantism, De Geer's father sold his properties in Liège in 1595 and followed his daughter to Dordrecht, where since 1589 a neighborhood had existed populated by merchants from Liège. In 1603, his daughter Margaretha de Geer (1583–1672) married Jacob Trip (1575–1661), brother and partner of Elias, further cementing the merchant families' relationship. [3] [4]

Dutch East India Company 17th-century Dutch trading company

The Dutch East India Company, officially the United East India Company was an early megacorporation founded by a government-directed amalgamation of several rival Dutch trading companies (voorcompagnieën) in the early 17th century. It was established on March 20, 1602, as a chartered company to trade with Mughal India during the period of proto-industrialization, from which 50% of textiles and 80% of silks were imported, chiefly from its most developed region known as Bengal Subah. In addition, the company Indianised Southeast Asian countries when the Dutch government granted it a 21-year monopoly on the Dutch spice trade. It has been often labelled a trading company or sometimes a shipping company. However, VOC was in fact a proto-conglomerate company, diversifying into multiple commercial and industrial activities such as international trade, shipbuilding, and both production and trade of East Indian spices, Formosan sugarcane, and South African wine. The Company was a transcontinental employer and an early pioneer of outward foreign direct investment. The Company's investment projects helped raise the commercial and industrial potential of many underdeveloped or undeveloped regions of the world in the early modern period. In the early 1600s, by widely issuing bonds and shares of stock to the general public, VOC became the world's first formally listed public company. In other words, it was the first corporation to be listed on an official stock exchange. It was influential in the rise of corporate-led globalisation in the early modern period.

Dordrecht City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Dordrecht, colloquially Dordt, historically in English named Dort, is a city and municipality in the Western Netherlands, located in the province of South Holland. It is the fifth-largest city of the province after Rotterdam, The Hague, Zoetermeer and Leiden, with a population of 118,450. The municipality covers the entire Dordrecht Island, also often called Het Eiland van Dordt, bordered by the rivers Oude Maas, Beneden Merwede, Nieuwe Merwede, Hollands Diep, and Dordtsche Kil. Dordrecht is the largest and most important city in the Drechtsteden and is also part of the Randstad, the main conurbation in the Netherlands. Dordrecht is the oldest city in Holland and has a rich history and culture.

Prince-Bishopric of Liège ecclesiastic state of the Holy Roman Empire

The Prince-Bishopric of Liège or Principality of Liège was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries, situated for the most part in present Belgium, which was ruled by the Bishop of Liège. As a prince, the Bishop held an Imperial Estate and had seat and voice at the Imperial Diet. The Prince-Bishopric of Liège should not be confused with the Bishop's diocese of Liège, which was larger.

Johannes Polyander appears to have been an important teacher of Louis Jr. in Dordrecht. From 1605 to 1608, De Geer trained as coppersmith in Roanne in France, after which he started his first business in La Rochelle. [4] Returning to Dordrecht in 1611 he associated himself with his brothers-in-law. In 1612, he married Adrienne Gérard (ca 1590–1634), also originally from Liège, with whom he had 16 children. [4] Having earned a fortune as a banker and industrialist he moved his family to Amsterdam in 1615. Owing to his extensive travels he received a good education in business. [5]

Johannes Polyander Dutch theologian

Johannes Polyander van den Kerckhoven was a Dutch Calvinist theologian, a Contra-Remonstrant but considered of moderate views.

Roanne Subprefecture and commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Roanne is a commune in the Loire department in central France.

La Rochelle Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.

With the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War the demand for weapons increased enormously. In 1618, De Geer delivered weapons to Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, the Swedish king. Impressed by his business instincts the Swedish government allowed him to lease estates near Finspång, Östergötland in eastern Sweden proper. Before long, De Geer had established a formidable workshop industry there. In 1623 he was active in a Swedish trading company. [1] [6]

Thirty Years War War between 1618 and 1648; with over 8 million fatalities

The Thirty Years' War was a war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. One of the most destructive conflicts in human history, it resulted in eight million fatalities not only from military engagements but also from violence, famine, and plague. Casualties were overwhelmingly and disproportionately inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the rest being battle deaths from various foreign armies. The deadly clashes ravaged Europe; 20 percent of the total population of Germany died during the conflict and there were losses up to 50 percent in a corridor between Pomerania and the Black Forest. In terms of proportional German casualties and destruction, it was surpassed only by the period January to May 1945; one of its enduring results was 19th-century Pan-Germanism, when it served as an example of the dangers of a divided Germany and became a key justification for the 1871 creation of the German Empire.

Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden Swedish king 1611–32

Gustavus Adolphus, also known in English as Gustav II Adolf or Gustav II Adolph, was the King of Sweden from 1611 to 1632, and is credited for the founding of Sweden as a great power. He led Sweden to military supremacy during the Thirty Years' War, helping to determine the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. He was formally and posthumously given the name Gustavus Adolphus the Great by the Riksdag of the Estates in 1634.

The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority of Sweden. The short-form name Regeringen is used both in the Basic Laws of Sweden and in the vernacular, while the long-form is only used in international treaties.

The Swedish government continued to support him and De Geer received the monopoly on the copper and iron trade. De Geer, who adopted Sweden as his second home country, immigrated to Sweden in 1627. He hoped to evade paying toll in de Sont. In 1634, he bought "Het Huis met de Hoofden" on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. His wife died after the birth of their sixteenth child. [7]

Copper Chemical element with atomic number 29

Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.

Iron Chemical element with atomic number 26

Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal, that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 of the periodic table. It is by mass the most common element on Earth, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust.

A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between sovereign states. It is a form of regulation of foreign trade and a policy that taxes foreign products to encourage or safeguard domestic industry. Traditionally, states have used them as a source of income. Now, they are among the most widely used instruments of protection, along with import and export quotas.

In 1640, De Geer travelled again to Sweden and was ennobled. In his new status he was able to buy 3/4 of the leased farmlands. As of 2011 his estate in Stockholm houses the Dutch embassy in Sweden. [7]

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 965,232 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.6 million in the urban area, and 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the county seat of Stockholm County.

Working for Axel Oxenstierna he went to Amsterdam to support the war against Denmark. In 1644, at the start of the Torstenson War against Denmark, he singlehandedly equipped an armada of ships to sail against Denmark. This fleet contained a complete marine, 32 ships with sailors, weaponry and officers. The Swedes were able to conquer Fehmarn in Denmark, thanks to his aid. De Geer is also considered responsible for the Swedish Africa Company. When he founded the company a riot started in Amsterdam in 1649. His family also provided shelter to pacifist and humanist Comenius in his home in Amsterdam. He died in 1652 after falling ill during another voyage to Sweden. He returned to Amsterdam and died there. He was buried in the family grave in the Augustijnenkerk  [ nl ] in Dordrecht. [5] [4]

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  1. 1 2 "Louis De Geer". Nordisk familjebok (in Swedish). 6. Stockholm: Project Runeberg. 1907. pp. 2–4.
  2. "Louis de Geer (1587-1650)". historischnieuwsblad. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  3. Breedvelt-Van Veen, Froukje (1935). Louis de Geer: 1587-1652 (in Dutch). H.J. Paris.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Romein, Jan; Romein-Verschoor, Annie (1977). "Louis de Geer". Erflaters van onze beschaving: Nederlandse Gestalten Uit Zes Eeuwen (in Dutch). Amsterdam: Querido. p. 285-305. ISBN   9789021420288.
  5. 1 2 Ekinge, Robert. "Louis De Geer". www.ekinge.nu. Robert Ekinge. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  6. "Louis de Geer". minata.tripod. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  7. 1 2 "Louis De Geer". Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (in Swedish). 10. Stockholm: National Archives of Sweden. 1931. p. 457.