“For Pity and Piety: Images of Religious Persecution in the Dutch Republic”
In November 2014, scholars from several universities in Western and Eastern Europe gathered at the University of Konstanz, Germany, to discuss the visualisation of power, resistance and punishment in early modern times.
The overall aim of our conference was to trace cross-cultural links as well as sources of conflict and misunderstanding in the respective visual traditions and their socio-political contexts.
This is an abstract of David de Boer’s contribution to our forth-coming publication “Iconic Revolts”, which summarises our conference discussions and makes important results available to the public:
In 1655 a Savoyard army slaughtered around 1700 Protestant Waldensians in northern Italy. The event, which came to be known as the Piedmont Easter, would prove to be one of the most violent episodes of religious persecution after the wars of religion. News of the massacre shocked Protestants all around Europe and became a widely discussed topic in both public and private media. This article traces the transnational echo of the Piedmont Easter and examines the ways in which it was represented in different media in the Dutch Republic. First, it explores the role of pamphlets as a crucial medium in shaping and representing public opinion. Subsequently, the correspondence of the diplomat Willem Boreel, who structurally provided the States General with information on the event, will be analyzed. Lastly, the article scrutinizes the evaluation of the conflict by the diplomat and historian Lieuwe van Aitzema in his influential contemporary history Saken van Staet en Oorlogh. It will be argued that in the wake of the Piedmont Easter public media and political decision-making became increasingly intertwined as the opinions of “common people” put their stamp on international politics.