Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Corn Shed of the World: Paper at the RSA

Poland-Lithuania represented by i.a. bags of grain and a woman with a cornucopia, on a Dutch frontispiece from 1734.

On the 18th of March, I presented a paper at the 65th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, which took place in Toronto, Canada, from the 17th to the 19th of March. My paper was entitled ‘The Corn Shed of the World: The Evolution of a Seventeenth-Century Dutch Image of Poland-Lithuania’.  As stated in my abstract:

The Dutch Republic owed much of its wealth to the trade in Baltic grain, most of which came from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The importance of this trade is clear from both economic and political developments. There is however also plenty of textual and visual evidence, which has not yet been taken into account. Using a variety of seventeenth-century sources, such as pamphlets, letters, travel accounts, poems and engravings, I will show how widespread the Dutch understanding of Poland-Lithuania’s pivotal role was, and how a Dutch image of Poland-Lithuania as a granary and fertile land of plenty developed over time. It will become clear that the Polish-Swedish wars of the 1620s and 1650s, as well as Dutch migration to Prussia, were crucial in this process. In addition, Joost van den Vondel and the Amsterdam agenda played a vital part in presenting Poland-Lithuania as “the corn shed of the world.”