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The Royalist Republic
Literature, Politics, and Religion in the Anglo-Dutch Public Sphere, 1639–1660


  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107457928

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About the Authors
  • In 1649, Charles I was executed before Whitehall Palace in London. This event had a major impact not only in the British Isles, but also on the continent, where British exiles, diplomats and agents waged propaganda battles to conquer the minds of foreign audiences. In the Dutch Republic, above all, their efforts had a significant impact on public opinion, and succeeded in triggering violent debate. This is the first book-length study devoted to the continental backlash of the English Civil Wars. Interdisciplinary in scope and drawing on a wide range of sources, from pamphlets to paintings, Helmer Helmers shows how the royalist cause managed to triumph in one of the most unlikely places in early modern Europe. In doing so, Helmers transforms our understanding of both British and Dutch political culture, and provides new contexts for major literary works by Milton, Marvell, Huygens, and many others.

    • Presents a wide range of previously unknown Dutch sources central to the study of English Civil War history and literature that adds considerably to our understanding of British and Dutch political culture in this period
    • The first book-length investigation of the impact of English and Scottish royalism on the continent, giving a new perspective on Anglo-Dutch relations in the seventeenth century
    • Offers a new transnational and interdisciplinary approach to early modern political literature and propaganda
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This absorbing and original book introduces us to one of the most extraordinary political phenomena of the seventeenth century: the outpouring of sympathy for the executed Charles I in the Dutch Republic. Interweaving correspondence, printed pamphlets and engravings, plays, poetry, and popular song, Helmers' beautifully crafted and deeply researched study reveals a true media phenomenon, engaging one of Europe's most sophisticated publics.' Andrew Pettegree, University of St Andrews

    'In one of the most arresting and original works of early modern literary criticism in recent years, Helmer Helmers explores the strikingly intimate confluence between British and Dutch literary cultures during the wars of the three kingdoms … The intersections between the neighbouring cultures is such, Helmers demonstrates, that it is possible to talk in this period of an Anglo-Dutch public sphere. The Royalist Republic is a major contribution to our understanding of Dutch, English, and, most importantly, Anglo-Dutch literary culture in the mid-seventeenth century.' Joad Raymond, Queen Mary, University of London

    'This fascinating and original study confronts the paradox that while the Dutch Republic was the product of a war against royal authority, Dutch publicists in the 1640s and 50s took an increasingly royalist line in discussing Britain's civil wars and their aftermath. Compellingly written, informative, and full of insight, Helmer Helmers' The Royalist Republic will be enjoyed by all readers interested in the history and literature of the turbulent mid-seventeenth century.' Hugh Dunthorne, University of Swansea

    'Helmers has produced a sparkling and innovative account of Anglo-Dutch print culture during the mid-seventeenth century. His stimulating analysis of Dutch support for the Stuart cause confronts the reader with hybrid discursive communities, and addresses significant questions about European cultural entanglement, and about the complex and fluid nature of 'national' identities.' Jason Peacey, University College London

    'Simply stated, The Royalist Republic by Helmer J. Helmers is wonderful. Employing Dutch and English tracts, plays, and poems from the 1630s through 1650s, Helmers successfully completes the task he set for himself: bridging the divide existing between political and literary history as well as the vast distances existing between Anglo-Scoto, or as he terms it, 'British', and Dutch disciplinary traditions.' Zachary W. Schulz, H-Albion

    'Helmers' book is an extremely useful addition to the literature for anyone studying almost any aspect of the Dutch Republic, from its politics, to its literature, to its iconography. In weight of numbers alone it paints a new picture of Dutch popular publishing as squarely behind the Stuart cause, pulling out all the stops to win support from the Dutch, throughout the period from the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, and especially after the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the Protectorate, to the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. In showing the enormous success of that royalist effort, this book, though it scarcely mentions them, puts into sharp relief the works of the brothers De La Court and Spinoza, long well-known for their republican and democratic tendencies, or less well-known figures such as Schele or Velthuysen.' Bartholomew Begley, Journal of Dutch Literature

    'His study offers some novel answers through a wide variety of texts, the most important being the Dutch translation of the Eikon Basilike, and by invoking a common discursive political space in which these texts were translated, circulated, and read.' Helmer J. Helmers, Renaissance Quarterly

    'Comparing the writings of contemporary Dutch and English authors, as Helmers does more than once, is not the only original feature of this informative and thought-provoking book. He brings many forgotten texts to light, and by placing better-known ones in their political context he suggests new ways of reading them. In explaining the paradox of the 'royalist republic', Helmers sees the United Provinces as Britain's 'counter-sphere', a place where those 'excluded from power in England' could make their voices heard.' Hugh Dunthorne, Dutch Crossing

    'This is, by all measures, an exceptional and imaginative study of the many ways in which Dutch and English (indeed British) politics, religion and culture overlapped in the turbulent decades of the mid-seventeenth century. From the outset, Helmers carefully and intelligently interrogates notions of a coherent, monolithic 'public sphere' in the early modern period, preferring instead to employ a more discursive lens influenced by the work of Gerard Hauser.' Mark Williams, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

    'In this fascinating work, Helmers offers a lucid analysis of one of the most complex political quandaries of the seventeenth century. Helmers guides the reader through the political, religious, and literary crosscurrents running through England, Scotland, and the Dutch Republic as statesmen, preachers, and writers demonstrated the extent to which the fortunes of the Protestant states were inextricably linked.' Arthur der Weduwen, The Seventeenth Century

    'Helmers's analyses of poems, plays, translations, paintings, histories, and pamphlets - including bilingual ones, written by writers like John Lilburne - are as astute as his readings of the relevant scholarly literature (in the vernacular) by contemporary British and Dutch critics and historians. He weighs evidence cautiously and carefully, and will call out those scholars who force alignments and influences between English and Dutch literature that can't be substantiated.' Elizabeth Sauer, Comptes Rendus

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107457928
    • length: 342 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the royalist republic
    Part I. Public Spheres and Discursive Communities:
    1. The translation of politics: civil war polemic in the Dutch Republic
    2. Unity and uniformity: the first civil war and the Anglo-Scoto-Dutch puritan community
    3. Emerging royalism: anti-puritanism and Anglo-Scoto-Dutch history
    Part II. Maps of Meaning:
    4. Eikon basilike translated: the cult of the martyr king in the Dutch Republic
    5. 'When in my neighbourhood the cannons raged': war and regicide in estate poetry
    6. The cry of the royal blood: revenge tragedy and the Stuart cause in the Dutch Republic
    7. The English devil: stereotyping, demonology, and the First Anglo-Dutch War
    8. Representing restoration: politics, providence, and theatricality in Vondel and Milton

  • Author

    Helmer J. Helmers, University of Amsterdam
    Helmer J. Helmers is Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Veni-fellow and lecturer in early modern Dutch literature and culture at the University of Amsterdam. He specializes in early modern political culture, news culture and Anglo-Dutch exchange.

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