The Role of Forts in the Local Market System in the Lower Rhine: Towards a Method of Multiple Hypothesis Testing Through Comparative Modelling

This paper analyses rural settlement patterns in the Lower Rhine frontier
zone to elucidate the role of forts in the rural economy. Von Thünen’s model of rural
marketing suggests that market centres attract intensive cultivation, making them
identifiable through spatial analysis of rural settlements. Environmental factors that
influenced production capacity, however, can also be expected to exert a strong
influence on settlement location, so a multivariate method of spatial analysis is necessary.
Using a process of comparative modelling with logistic regression analysis,
I test the hypotheses that rural settlements responded to the location of market centres,
both civilian and military. I use univariate analysis of settlement territories to
identify influential local environmental factors and combine these into a logistic
regression model. Then I add a market potential (MP) variable that quantifies the
accessibility of marketing opportunities from any location within a market system
to see if this factor also shaped settlement patterns. Finally, I vary the centres
included in the MP variable to determine whether rural settlements responded to the
locations of forts in addition to civilian centres. I find that forts did not generally
attract settlements and conclude that smallholders sold their produce primarily in
civilian market places.


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