Early Modern News and Information Culture


Members of the research group

> H. (Hanna) de Lange, RMA student History


The history of news and information is one of the most burgeoning fields of historical scholarship today. This research group focuses on the Low Countries as one of the main information hubs of early modern Europe and the Atlantic world. The Dutch Republic’s relatively tolerant religious and ideological climate attracted authors and free thinkers, while its extensive trade network ensured that newspapers, pamphlets, prints, maps, and scientific treatises published here were certain to make an impact across the continent. In the adjacent political cultures of the Southern Netherlands, France, England and the Holy Roman Empire, the vibrant Dutch discussion culture influenced the circulation of political and religious information. For this reason, the research group defines early modern news and information culture in its broadest possible terms, as a multimedia experience that was shaped by the ever-changing dynamic between opinion-makers and readers both at home and abroad, and extended from secrecy to satire. Anticipation for good news was particularly high: hopes for the future determined the concerns of the early modern print media. Journalists and information managers faced the daunting task of solving the discrepancy between the continuous supply of rumours and news and a regular demand for reliable information, printing everything that was fit to print without losing either their credibility or their customers.

Achievements and envisaged results

The Early Modern News and Information Culture group convenes several times a year. It provides an intellectual home to 1 NWO Vidi project, 2 NWO Veni projects, and 1 NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen project. Individually as well as (at times) collectively, the group expects to organize workshops and conferences, and publish articles in scholarly journals, monographs, and doctoral dissertations (eg. on sixteenth-century Franco-Dutch news networks, and Atlantic news in the Northern and Southern Netherlands). Members of the group will continue to apply for research grants both from NWO and from international funding bodies (ERC, HERA). Recent activities include a workshop on visual images of news, in cooperation with the Huizinga Institute. Forthcoming publications include a special issue of Media History provisionally entitled “Managing the News in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800” (2016).


A Trompe l’Oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board

A Trompe l’Oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements on a Wooden Board - Edward Collier, c.1699

Published by  Amsterdam School of Historical Studies

23 May 2016