Rumours of Revolt

Civil War and the Emergence of a Transnational News Culture in France and the Netherlands, 1561–1598


This book explores the reception of foreign news during the late sixteenth-century civil wars in France and the Netherlands. Analysing a large body of French and Dutch chronicles, Rosanne Baars innovatively demonstrates that the wider public was well aware of events abroad, though interest in foreign conflicts was far from constant. She sheds new light on the connections between the Dutch Revolt and the French Wars of Religion: contemporaries were gradually more inclined to see these wars as part of an international struggle. Baars argues that these times of civil war made inhabitants of both countries more apt at distinguishing rumour from reliable reports, thus contributing to the emergence of a public of critical news consumers.

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Rosanne M. Baars, Ph.D. (2019, University of Amsterdam) is Lecturer in History at that university. Her research focuses on the history of news and media, early modern France, diplomatic history, the Ottoman Empire and maritime history.
“highly innovative … fascinating … impressive … Baars brings to light a dimension of the societies of the sixteenth century that is often left in the dark.”
Gautier Mingous, Université Lumière Lyon 2. In: Early Modern Low Countries, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2021), pp. 380–382.

“Rosanne M. Baars’s study of the circulation, reception, and interpretation of news in France and the Netherlands in the late sixteenth century is a highly engaging, carefully researched, and persuasively argued volume. […] This is a fascinating and important work which sheds light on the way that contemporaries understood two major European conflicts. It clarifies the complexity of the early modern media world and shows how commentators were often highly discerning when presented with new information, an approach we can all admire.”
Sara Barker, University of Leeds. In: French Studies, 2022, knac141,

List of Figures

 1 The French Wars of Religion and the Dutch Revolt
 2 News and News Scholarship
 3 Chronicling and Chroniclers
 4 The Media World of the Sixteenth-Century Chronicler
 5 Scope and Structure

1 The First Troubles (1561–1566): Iconoclasm
 1 The Sound of the Flute from France
 2 Open Borders and Transnational News Networks after Cateau-Cambrésis (1559)
 3 Iconoclasm in France and the Netherlands
 4 News about the First War of Religion and French Iconoclasm
 5 Foreign Influences
 6 The Iconoclastic Fury as a News Event
 7 A More Suitable Topic for News Pamphlets: The Ottomans
 8 An Awkward Event
 9 Borrowing Responses from France

2 War, Fame, and Noble Leadership, 1567–1571
 1 Fame
 2 Praise, Poetry, and Prints
 3 Famous Frenchmen during the First Years of the Religious Wars
 4 News about Alva, Orange, and the Troubles in the Netherlands
 5 Egmont and Hornes
 6 Don Carlos

3 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the Credibility of News, 1572
 1 Part 1. Reactions to the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in the Netherlands
 2 Part 2. Credibility and Verification

4 Peace Negotiations, 1576–1579
 1 Peace Attempts in France and the Netherlands
 2 Parallels and Differences
 3 French News regarding the Events in the Netherlands
 4 Pamphlets and Readership
 5 International Pamphleteering
 6 Explaining a Coup d’état
 7 Ideas regarding Public Communication
 8 French Peace Edicts in the Netherlands

5 Anjou, 1578–1583
 1 Anjou Goes to the Netherlands
 2 Netherlandish Expectations
 3 Marriage Plans
 4 News from France
 5 French News Networks in the Netherlands
 6 French Views of Anjou’s Mission in the Netherlands
 7 Why Go to the Netherlands?
 8 Anjou’s Honour
 9 The French Fury: ‘Anvers, l’Enfer’

6 Transnational Solidarities, 1584–1598
 1 Chroniclers Take Sides
 2 The Murder of William of Orange
 3 The Siege and Surrender of Antwerp
 4 The Armada
 5 A Single European Audience
 6 The Murders of the Guises and Henry III—Separation in Print
 7 Navarre versus Farnese
 8 Alternative Facts
 9 Mirroring Murder: The Affair of Maurice of Nassau and the Assault with the Quadruple Cutting Knife

 1 Two Civil Wars in France and the Netherlands
 2 The Emergence of a Transnational News Culture
 3 The Well-Informed Chronicler

Appendix: Consulted Chronicles
All interested in the transnational history of the French Wars of Religion and the Dutch Revolt, and anyone concerned with the history of early modern news, media, and public debate.
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