Back to Scholarship

Paper warfare: contested political memories in a seventeenth-century Dutch Sammelband

This article investigates the flexible boundaries of Early Modern Dutch print media and the practice of Early Modern publishers and collectors who combined printed images and texts to create historical narratives in accordance with their own beliefs. It takes as a case study one seventeenth-century Dutch Sammelband, or composite volume, that conveys an Orangist reading of the past and aspirations for the future through the purposeful arrangement of twenty-one printed images and texts about two statesmen: Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547–1619) and Johan de Witt (1625–72). The printed images, pamphlets, and broadsides contained in the Sammelband were published during two periods of intense political upheaval in the Dutch Republic, in 1618–19 and 1663–64. This article argues that the core of this Sammelband was a ready-made set of prints and pamphlets that Amsterdam printmaker and publisher Claes Jansz. Visscher bundled together in 1619 to capitalize on contemporary political conflicts and to shape viewers’ interpretations about the causes, remedies, and future implications of them. The Sammelband, like Visscher’s readymade bundles of prints and pamphlets, reveals how collections of Early Modern printed images and texts worked to control historical accounts, reinforce partisan points of view, and articulate political aspirations.

Relevant research areas: Western Europe, Baroque, Engraving, Etching, Letterpress