Researcher: Lilian Nijhuis
Supervisors: Lotte Jensen and Johan Oosterman
The late sixteenth and the seventeenth century witness many catastrophes as well, including floods and fires. In this period, however, disaster discourses become increasingly marked by political topics and vocabulary due to the Eighty Years’ War, the subsequent wars against the English, and the long-lasting war against the French (from 1672 on). Disaster discourses are intrinsically connected with the struggle against foreign enemies and the fight for independence.
A number of disasters will be selected from throughout the period, including at least the severe winter of 1608, the storm along the Dutch coast (1653), the flood in Coevorden (where at least 1200 German soldiers died, 1673), the All Saints’ Day Flood (1675), and the St Martin’ s Flood in Groningen (1686). The project will analyse the disaster discourses in close connection with the political events of these days. The year 1672 is often characterised as a year of disasters, because of the foreign invasion of English, French and German troops, and the internal political changes in the Republic; previous research suggests that disaster discourses were affected by these events, but an overarching analysis of the popular reactions to natural disasters in this period has not yet been undertaken.
This subproject will pay attention to the interplay between local identities and the way a ‘national narrative’ is being constructed at the same time. In what ways were these calamities configured as disasters that connected communities across the Republic and called for empathy and identification with the afflicted?