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Hybrid Symposium 'Pageantry, Ritual and Popular Media: Netherlandish Practices of Public Diplomacy in 16th- and 17th-Europe’

Friday 2 December 2022
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden


Register here 

This free symposium will be held both in person, in the Vossiuszaal of the Leiden University Library, and online, via Zoom. Please register via the link above. Registration will close on 28 November 2022. Closer to the date of the event you will receive the link to the Zoom room. For further queries, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Bram van Leuveren via mail.


10:00 – 10:30 Walk in with coffee and tea

10:30 – 10:45 Opening remarks

10:45 – 12:00
Helmer Helmers (KNAW, Humanities Cluster) Keynote ‘Dutch Practices of Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe’

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 13:30
Bram van Leuveren (Leiden University, LUCAS)
‘Pageantry and Ritual as Tools for Public Diplomacy: Netherlandish Receptions of Anglo-French Dignitaries, 1577-1642’

13:30 – 14:00
Marika Keblusek (Leiden University, LUCAS)
‘Welcome to the Garden: The Entry of Henrietta Maria, Queen of England, and Mary Stuart, Princess Royal, in the Dutch Republic (1642)’

14:00 – 14:15 Coffee and tea

14:15 – 14:45
Nina Lamal (KNAW, Humanities Cluster)
‘Tracing Ephemeral Diplomatic Celebrations in Dutch Serial Publications’

14:45 – 15:15
Luc Duerloo (University of Antwerp, Department of History)
‘Pageantry and Pragmatism: Repertoires of Princely Entries and the Festival Culture of Cities of the Habsburg Netherlands’

15:15 – 15:45 Coffee and tea

15:45 – 16:15
Paul Hulsenboom (Radboud University Nijmegen, RICH)
‘Representatives of a European Orient: Dutch Impressions of Early Modern Polish Diplomats’

16:15 – 16:45
Maurits Ebben (Leiden University, Department of History)
‘The Early Modern Embassy Building: Representation, Publicity, and Propaganda’

16:45 – 17:00 Concluding remarks

Speakers and attendees are invited for drinks at Pakhuis Leiden (Doelensteeg 8, 2311 VL Leiden)

There will be a display of relevant engravings, books, and pamphlets from Leiden University’s Special Collections for the duration of the symposium.

Public diplomacy

European governments today often rely on social media like Instagram or Twitter to manage their international relations. This is what scholars of IR have called public diplomacy: the direct engagement of diplomatic actors with foreign audiences through popular media, including digital, printed, and physical. But rather than being a modern invention, Helmer Helmers and his research team at the KNAW have recently shown that Netherlandish governments and their diplomats already used printed media as tools for public diplomacy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They regularly sponsored pamphlets or circulated engravings to influence foreign policy or advertise their own image and diplomatic agenda to an international audiences of envoys, rulers, and interested members of the public.

Pageantry, ritual, and popular media

This symposium is organised by Bram van Leuveren and takes its cue from his/their current research on early modern uses of pageantry and ritual as tools for public diplomacy. This research is sponsored with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Union. Bram is interested in how Netherlandish authorities, such as burgomasters, stadtholders, and representatives of the States-General, received British and French dignitaries in the late sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries with ceremonial and theatrical spectacle to manage relations with them and broadcast those relations to audiences across Europe. Bram also examines how the public diplomacy of the original spectacle was further ‘amplified’ by various diplomatic actors in a wide range of popular media, including engravings, pamphlets, paintings, and commemorative coins. People unable to attend the festivities of the Netherlandish authorities could thus still learn about the events in retrospect.   

Netherlandish practices of public diplomacy

For the first time, this symposium aims to study public diplomatic uses of pageantry and ritual at all kinds of court and civic events across the Low Countries, including ceremonial entries, diplomatic conferences, state receptions, and public celebrations. Additionally, it will consider the reception of those public diplomatic events in popular media, such as pamphlets, newspapers, and illustrated chronicles, and the extent to which pageantry and ritual worked together with other practices of public diplomacy, such as chronicling or pamphleteering. Finally, this symposium will explore Netherlandish practices of public diplomacy, including uses of pageantry and ritual, abroad, namely in Sweden and Poland-Lithuania.   


Helmers, Helmer, ‘Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe: Towards a New History of News’, Media History 22.3-4 (2016), 401-420 <https://doi.org/10.1080/13688804.2016.1174570>.

Leuveren, Bram van, Early Modern Diplomacy and French Festival Culture in a European Context, 1572-1614, Rulers & Elites (Leiden and Boston: Brill, forthcoming).

Van Gelder, Klaas, and Nina Lamal (eds.), Cultural and Public Diplomacy in Seventeenth-Century Europe, special issue, The Seventeenth Century 36.3 (2021).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement number 101029762.

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