Our research will examine the experiences and impacts of religious refugees who fled to the German Rhineland in the mid-sixteenth century during the struggles that resulted in the creation of the Dutch Republic. Approximately 60,000 Protestants escaped persecution in the Habsburg Netherlands by fleeing to England and Germany, including to at least twelve asylums in the Rhineland.
In most historical accounts, the experiences of exile encouraged many to embrace uncompromising forms of Calvinism that later challenged traditions of moderation and toleration in the Netherlands. However, the fact that many exiles who had lived in the Rhineland emerged as advocates for forms of moderation, religious concord, or toleration has largely been ignored. Our research aims to understand the diversity of exiles’ experiences, the ways that exiles shaped the early Republic, and the transnational contributions they made to Dutch forms of tolerance. The result will be a more complex and less nationally determined understanding of the religious landscape of the Dutch Republic and the origins of Dutch tolerance. This research thus offers critical historical perspectives for the twenty-first century at a time in which the nature and limits of Dutch tolerance are once again in the national and international spotlight.
This part of our program examines the Dutch exile communities in in the Rhineland duchy of Cleves, including Goch, Gennep, Rees, Kalkar, Emmerich, and Xanten. The aim is to understand the religious and political culture of these communities, the relationships that exiles developed with their host, as well as how the exiles’ experiences shaped their worldviews. These communities were small, hometowns with deep economic and cultural connections to the neighboring Netherlands, though they formally stood under the governance of the duke of Cleves and imperial law. This research will be based on city council records, church council and parish records, correspondence, as well as evidence of printing activities in these communities.
This part of our program examines the Dutch exile communities in in the Rhineland imperial cities of Aachen, Frankfurt, and Cologne. The aim is to understand the religious and political culture of these communities, the relationships that exiles developed with their host, as well as how the exiles’ experiences shaped their worldviews. These communities had were largely self-governing community overseen by city councils of local patriciates. They were also cosmopolitan trading cities. This research will be based on city council records, church council and parish records, correspondence, as well as evidence of printing activities in these communities.
This project examines influence of former leaders in the Dutch Reformed churches in exile on the Rhineland on the religious culture of the early Dutch Republic. This postdoctoral project examines the activities of Reformed ministers and elders who served the Rhineland exile churches both during their exile and upon their return to the Low Countries. The project examines their social and cultural profiles, as well as how their religious and political ideas changed in exiles and assesses their intellectual contributions within the Dutch Republic.
We are also producing a smart phone tourist guide for the Rhineland, introducing the public to the region’s history of religious exile and tolerance in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The scope of this guide will be broader than our research project; it includes sites associated with Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish exiles. It will take the form of a smart phone app that offers suggested routes as well as links to texts, images, and music. The primary aim of this initiative is to make the rich shared cultural legacies of the Rhineland and Netherlands accessible to a general audience, particularly since since so many historical sites in this region were destroyed during the Second World War. Our app will be available in Dutch, German, and English.