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The Hague, Theatrum Europaeum of diplomacy, 1648-1800


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


During the last three decades diplomatic history has undergone profound changes, leading historians to focus on the diplomatic process and its cultural dimensions rather than the results of diplomatic activity. Attention to political and economic aspects of diplomatic history gave way to more emphasis on cultural and social cultural dimensions. As a result more research has been done on embassies, diplomatic life, diplomatic culture, protocol and court rituals, cultural exchange and provision of information. This approach will be pre-eminent in this course and will focus on foreign embassies and diplomatic delegations present in The Hague in the second half of the seventeenth century and the eighteenth century. Early modern The Hague will be studied as a case for European diplomatic life in its geographical, social, economic and political environment. The diplomatic community in The Hague will be studied internally (how did diplomats work? How did they communicate with each other? How did they manifest themselves as a elite group in The Hague?) as well as externally (how were their relations with the Dutch authorities; States General, Grand Pensionary/Stadtholder, local authorities? How was their relation with the public world? (ceremonial presentation, pamphlets and news papers). Attention will be paid also to questions of diplomatic immunity and religious diversity (Catholic Embassy chapels). Studying The Hague as a early diplomatic center is justified by the the presence of the Dutch central government, the Orange court and by the fact that it had become in the course of the second half of the seventeenth century one of Europe’s main diplomatic centers. Most European countries were represented in The Hague by diplomats of various categories in particular because the Dutch Republic was an important international information center (news papers, post services and information agencies). Students will research literature, published and unpublished primary sources. When it is suitable, cooperation will be pursued with Huygens ING Institute’s projects aiming at giving access to historical sources.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 2) The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 3) The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 4) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 5) The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  • 6) The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • 7) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 8) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 9) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 10) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the specialisation or subspecialisation as well as of the historiography of the specialisation Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on the broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodisation and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on the ability to analyse and evaluate primary sources from the period, if necessary with the aid of modern translations; ability to make use of relevant methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret sources in their textual and historical context.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  • 13) Students acquire a broad knowledge of the political and diplomatic history of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

  • 14) Students learn how to conduct research into published and unpublished primary sources, related to the course theme,

  • 15) and to make a Europe-wide, comparative evaluation of the results.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Classes: 24 hours.

  • Preparatory reading: 20 hours.

  • Class preparation and presentation: 36

  • Independent research and writing of the essay: 200 hours.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-14 (ResMA: 1-8, 10, 11-15)

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 9, 10

  • Participation
    Measured learning objectives: 7, 9, 11-12


Written paper: 70 %
Oral presentation: 15 %
Participation: 15 %


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

  • Circulation of course materials

  • Posting of source fragments

  • Announcements.

Reading list

To be announced


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. M. Ebben