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.

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