Monthly Archives: October 2023

PhD Thesis Defended!

On 24 October, I successfully defended my PhD thesis entitled Heretical Heroes and Savage Saviours. The Dutch and Poles in each other’s imaginations during the long seventeenth century. I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony and subsequent celebrations: a reception, dinner and party with family and friends! My thanks go out to all those who made the day’s festivities possible, especially my supervisors prof. dr. Lotte Jensen and prof. dr. Johan Oosterman, the members of the manuscript committee, and my paranymphs dr. Lieke Verheijen-van Wijk and dr. Alan Moss.

My PhD thesis can be downloaded for free here. Interested in a summary? This video shows a recording of the brief presentation I gave at the start of the defence ceremony (in Dutch).

Dutch and English Introductions to my PhD Thesis

Radboud University has published a text on my PhD thesis, which offers an introduction to my research and discusses some of my main conclusions. It forms the result of a conversation I had with Wies Bakker, who works at the university’s Marketing and Communications department. An English translation was published here by Radboud Recharge.

The Dutch version was subsequently republished here by the website


1654: A Polish Poet Mourns a Dutch Disaster (NL Embassy in PL)

On 12 October 1654, the Delft Thunderclap took place. At approximately 10:30 a.m., a quarter of the town was wiped away by an explosion in the gunpowder magazine of Holland, which was located in or near a former monastery. The cause of the explosion has never been established, but the story goes that a clerk entered the magazine carrying a burning lantern, sparks of which may have set fire to the highly flammable stash of gunpowder inside. The disaster elicited numerous responses by authors and artists from the Northern and Southern Netherlands, but it also inspired a reaction from Poland: in Gdańsk, the local historian, doctor, and teacher Joachim Pastorius showed solidarity with the Dutch victims by writing a mournful Latin poem, which he published in 1657. Pastorius had many Dutch contacts and likely based his verses on Dutch sources, specifically a famous poem by Joost van den Vondel. He probably sent it to his Dutch friends as a sign of compassion. Pastorius’s composition thus forms a fine example of the literary relations between Poland and the Dutch Republic. Moreover, the disastrous Delft Thunderclap provided him with the opportunity to shape an emotional community which bridged the two countries.

Egbert van der Poel, ‘The Delft Thunderclap’, 1654.

For a detailed analysis of Pastorius’s engagement with the disaster, see my Open Access chapter ‘Early Modern Community Formation Across Northern Europe. How and Why a Poet in Poland Engaged with the Delft Thunderclap of 1654’, in: H. van Asperen and L. Jensen (eds.), Dealing with Disasters from Early Modern to Modern Times. Cultural Responses to Catastrophes (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2023) 61-81.

*I originally wrote (a different version of) this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 47.

PhD Thesis Finished!

This is it: Heretical Heroes and Savage Saviours. The Dutch and Poles in each other’s imaginations during the long seventeenth century, the final version of my PhD thesis! Almost 600 pages and over 150 illustrations which together tell a story about how the Dutch and Poles imagined each other during the long seventeenth century, and how we can explain these representations. From the United Provinces as a natural and cultural marvel and school of warfare to the Dutch population as Calvinist, freedom-loving peasants, and from Poland as a grain-rich trading partner and champion of Christendom to the Poles themselves as northern savages and inhabitants of Europe’s Orient. The book will be available in Open Access after my defence on 24 October!


Scroll down for an impression of the book’s contents: