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Heroism in the Dutch Revolt 1566-1648, the true story!


Admission requirements

Reading skills in Dutch are required, ability to read 17th century handwriting recommended


Saints, heroes, idols; every societies seems to produce stories of exemplary individuals that represent values and ideals which are supposed to be shared by a nation or society at large. As a result of the growing importance of national states in the nineteenth century, both heroes who represented the virtues of the ideal citizen and champions of the state’s’ freedom and honour entered the stage as national heroes. In the Netherlands the history of the Dutch Revolt and its many protagonists was revived in public memory, art, literature, politics and historiography. Yet, the cultivations of heroes of the Dutch Revolt was not new. The veneration of many of them had already started in the late sixteenth- and early seventeenth centuries. In this research seminar we will study the mechanics of the social and cultural production of heroes in the seventeenth century. Who made for a good candidate? Under what conditions and by whom was the cult started? What media were used? What were the necessary preconditions for long term success? For a better understanding we will also study failed and forgotten heroes. In class, students will discuss theoretical frameworks and familiarize themselves with the narrative schemes and (classic) examples of seventeenth century heroism. In their individual research they will reconstruct the real life of a more or less known Dutch hero or heroine and analyze the conditions and context of his or her rise to heroic status.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the various theoretical and conceptual approaches in cultural history as well as social sciences of heroism, holiness and collective memory

  • Understanding of the mechanisms of historical canonization in the course of 17th to 19th century Dutch history

  • Research abilities with primary sources, both printed as in manuscript

  • Presentation and discussion skills

  • Enhanced academic writing skills


See course-schedule

Mode of instruction

Research seminar: lecturing, tutoring, peer reviewing, individual study

Assessment method

Participation in class; oral presentation, essay of 7500 words max.



Reading list

To be announced


See enrolment-procedure

Contact information

E-mail: Dr. H.M.E.P. Kuijpers