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Jim van der Meulen: ”Watch the Throne: Joyous Entries in the Political Culture of the Northern Netherlands, 1588-1702”

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HOST research group presents within the format of the Brussels Urban History Seminars

Jim van der Meulen (University of Oxford/UGent) ”Watch the Throne: Joyous Entries in the Political Culture of the Northern Netherlands, 1588-1702”

The seminar will take place in a hybrid way on 7 November, from 10.30-12.30h:

  • On VUB Campus Etterbeek (Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels), building C, floor 4, room 09
  • Online via Microsoft Teams

Registration is mandatory: please send an e-mail to

Watch the Throne: Joyous Entries in the Political Culture of the Northern Netherlands, 1588-1702 

The aim of this paper is to explore the place of ceremonial entries of monarchs and princes in the political culture of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century. There is an extensive literature on royal and princely entries in late medieval and early modern Europe, and the highly urbanized Low Countries have occasioned perhaps the most debate. However, this scholarship is almost exclusively focused on the Southern Low Countries, which were ruled by princes until the end of the Ancien Régime. In contrast, after its establishment in 1588, the Dutch Republic was formally governed by political assemblies that recognised no prince as their sovereign. Accordingly, the political culture of this polity has been mainly examined through the prism of those representative institutions – both through the general assembly called the States General, and the provincial assemblies. This paper argues, however, that despite its legal-constitutional redundancy, the cultural tradition surrounding so-called Joyous Entries retained its vigour in the Northern Netherlands beyond the princely era. Much as they had been in the late Middle Ages, these spectacles remained a tool of political communication in and between early modern Dutch cities. What changed, is that they were no longer primarily a platform for intra- and inter-urban competition or political dialogue with the prince. As multilingual media events, the entries became a way for the different Dutch assemblies (general and provincial) to assert themselves politically; both in relation to each other, in relation to the Stadtholder-princes of Orange, and in relation to foreign powers. Thus, this paper adds to a recent trend in the historiography which emphasizes the transnational and royal elements in the political culture of the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic.