Monthly Archives: January 2019

Brexit, the Polish Sejm and the dangers of perceived chaos

A meeting of the Polish Sejm during the reign of August II

The current Dutch reactions to the developments surrounding brexit resemble eighteenth-century responses to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Much like brexit, the Polish-Lithuanian state became associated with political chaos. Reactions ranged from disbelief and pity to outright mockery. In addition, Poland-Lithuania became viewed as being ‘ill’. By the end of the eighteenth century, a disorderly situation could be called ‘een Poolse landdag’, i.e. a meeting of the Polish Sejm. These negative perceptions partly legitimised the eventual partitions of the country, which vanished from the map of Europe in 1795.

For Over de Muur, I wrote a more in-depth analysis of the similarities between the responses to brexit and to eighteenth-century Poland-Lithuania.

Lezing: Een Poolse Prins bij Breda

Op 22 januari gaf ik een lezing in het Design Museum te ‘s Hertogenbosch. Ik verzorgde de openingslezing in een reeks erfgoedcolleges, georganiseerd door de Erfgoed Brabant Academie. Ondanks de sneeuw was er een goede opkomst. Mijn lezing ging over het bezoek van de Poolse kroonprins Ladislas Sigismund Vasa aan het Beleg van Breda in 1624, alsmede over het literaire voortleven van die gebeurtenis in met name de Poolse literatuur. Ik schreef er al eerder een korte blog over, naar aanleiding van een artikel dat ik aan het onderwerp gewijd heb.

Dutch views of the Polish-Lithuanian state system

At Queens’ College, Cambridge, together with Lotte Jensen and Fons Meijer

This week, I presented a paper at the Monarchy and Modernity since 1500 conference, organised by the University of Cambridge on January 8 and 9. My paper was entitled A(n Im)perfect System. Dutch views of the Polish-Lithuanian Political System in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. I discussed why the state system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – even though it was similar to popular rebulican theories formulated in the Northern Netherlands around the year 1600 – was apparently never considered a serious option by Dutch political thinkers. I argued that this was due to the negative opinion the Dutch had of Polish-Lithuanian nobles, who were said to enjoy too much freedom and mistreat their farmers. In the eighteenth century, the ‘chaotic’ Polish Sejm meetings gave rise to the idea that Poland-Lithuana was an anarchic state, rather than a model of freedom. Since then, a disorderly situation is often called ‘een Poolse landdag’.

Two colleagues from Radboud University Nijmegen also presented a paper. Prof. dr. Lotte Jensen and Fons Meijer MA analysed the responses of four Dutch kings to major natural disasters during the nineteenth century. See Dealing with Disasters for more information.