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The Citizenship Experiment

Contesting the Limits of Civic Equality and Participation in the Age of Revolutions

René Koekkoek

The Citizenship Experiment explores the fate of citizenship ideals in the Age of Revolutions. While in the early 1790s citizenship ideals in the Atlantic world converged, the twin shocks of the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolutionary Terror led the American, French, and Dutch publics to abandon the notion of a shared, Atlantic, revolutionary vision of citizenship. Instead, they forged conceptions of citizenship that were limited to national contexts, restricted categories of voters, and ‘advanced’ stages of civilization. Weaving together the convergence and divergence of an Atlantic revolutionary discourse, debates on citizenship, and the intellectual repercussions of the Terror and the Haitian Revolution, Koekkoek offers a fresh perspective on the revolutionary 1790s as a turning point in the history of citizenship.


Eric Brandom and Tommaso Giordani

Georges Sorel’s Study on Vico is a revelatory document of the depths and stakes of French social thought at the end of the 19th century. What brought Sorel to the 18th century Neapolitan theorist of history? Acute awareness of the limitations of Marxist thought in his day, a profound concern with the material underpinnings of language, law, and culture, and the imperative to understand the possibilities of revolutionary change. We find here a different Sorel, one who speaks in surprising ways to the 21st century.
The translation is accompanied by an introduction and by a set of notes which situate the text both in Sorel’s overall intellectual trajectory and in the fin de siècle debates from which it emerged.

Edited by Cesare Cuttica and Markku Peltonen

This cross-disciplinary collection of essays examines – for the first time and in detail – the variegated notions of democracy put forward in seventeenth-century England. It thus shows that democracy was widely explored and debated at the time; that anti-democratic currents and themes have a long history; that the seventeenth century is the first period in English history where we nonetheless find positive views of democracy; and that whether early-modern writers criticised or advocated it, these discussions were important for the subsequent development of the concept and practice ‘democracy’.
By offering a new historical account of such development, the book provides an innovative exploration of an important but overlooked topic whose relevance is all the more considerable in today’s political debates, civic conversation, academic arguments and media talk.

Contributors include Camilla Boisen, Alan Cromartie, Cesare Cuttica, Hannah Dawson, Martin Dzelzainis, Rachel Foxley, Matthew Growhoski, Rachel Hammersley, Peter Lake, Gaby Mahlberg, Markku Peltonen, Edward Vallance, and John West.


Edited by Simone Zurbuchen

The Law of Nations and Natural Law 1625-1800 offers innovative studies on the development of the law of nations after the Peace of Westphalia. This period was decisive for the origin and constitution of the discipline which eventually emancipated itself from natural law and became modern international law.

A specialist on the law of nations in the Swiss context and on its major figure, Emer de Vattel, Simone Zurbuchen prompted scholars to explore the law of nations in various European contexts. The volume studies little known literature related to the law of nations as an academic discipline, offers novel interpretations of classics in the field, and deconstructs ‘myths’ associated with the law of nations in the Enlightenment.

Enlightened Religion

From Confessional Churches to Polite Piety in the Dutch Republic


Edited by Joke Spaans and Jetze Touber

The history of the relation between religion and Enlightenment has been virtually rewritten In recent decades. The idea of a fairly unidirectional ‘rise of paganism’, or ‘secularisation’, has been replaced by a much more variegated panorama of interlocking changes—not least in the nature of both religion and rationalism. This volume explores developments in various cultural fields—from lexicology to geographical exploration, and from philosophy and history to theology, media and the arts—involved in the transformation of worldviews in the decades around 1700. The main focus is on the Dutch Republic, where discussion culture was more inclusive than in most other countries, and where people from very different walks of life joined the conversation.

Contributors include: Wiep van Bunge, Frank Daudeij, Martin Gierl, Albert Gootjes, Trudelien van ‘t Hof, Jonathan Israel, Henri Krop, Fred van Lieburg, Jaap Nieuwstraten, Joke Spaans, Jetze Touber, and Arthur Weststeijn.


Wiep van Bunge


Current historiography tends to present the Huguenot intellectuals as a relatively isolated group within Dutch society. In this article it is argued that it is vitally important to reconnect the exiled Huguenots, intellectuals as well as entrepreneurs and craftsmen, with their Dutch environment, a society in transition, politically and economically, and far less tolerant than its reputation had made them to expect, in the decades before and after 1700. In the case of Pierre Bayle, this offers possibilities for a new approach and for a possible solution of the ‘Bayle Enigma’: how did Bayle see the relation between faith and reason? Among leading Bayle scholars only those that are themselves committed Protestants tend to claim Bayle for the fideist cause, whereas others see his work as the prequel to the dechristianised eighteenth century French Enlightenment. Here Bayle’s fideism is seriously questioned, arguing from an analysis of Bayle’s plea for toleration, as developed throughout the body of his published works. It is shown how, departing from the ineffability of religious truth and an emphasis on the subjective nature of faith, Bayle moves to a position where he categorically denies the possibility of tolerance within a confessional context, as every Christian church or sect will eventually suppress or persecute others in the cause of what they consider true religion. On the contrary, Bayle extolled the virtue of the atheist, who does not expect a reward, over the morality of any religious tradition or custom. Any attempt to cast Bayle as a pyrrhonist when it comes to religion and, more specifically, theology should be rejected: whereas the natural sciences provide useful knowledge, Bayle denies the possibility of a sound natural theology and radically separates reason and religion. In this he essentially agreed with some of his compatriots who, under persecution, adopted Spinozist positions already before 1685.


Joke Spaans


Johannes Duijkerius (1661/1662-1702) has attracted some scholarly attention as a minor Spinozist. This assessment may well be misconceived. He is best or rather almost exclusively known as the author of the novel Het Leven van Philopater (The Life of Philopater), a theological roman à clef published anonymously in 1691. A second, and likewise anonymous Vervolg van ’t Leven van Philopater (Sequel to the Life of Philopater, 1697), has often been ascribed to him as well. Although Duijkerius emphatically denied authorship of this sequel, a plainly Spinozistic work, the suspicion of heterodoxy stuck. A closer look at Duijkerius’s career supports the contention that Vervolg was indeed not his, and produces a much richer, more intriguing picture of a minor intellectual living in interesting times. Instead of a frustrated candidate for the ministry and reluctant ‘radical,’ Duijkerius proves to have been an ambitious schoolmaster in Amsterdam, who fully participated in the lively debates of the Early Enlightenment but did not transgress the boundaries of Reformed orthodoxy. His life and works provide a perfect example of the entanglement of religious and intellectual history in the early modern period.


Albert Gootjes


Scholarship on Dutch academic culture of the Golden Age often evokes a ‘college of savants’ held to have been operative in Utrecht during the middle decades of that century, be it as a network of Cartesians or as a rather vague ‘club’ of sorts. In this article I weigh a variety of source materials, often highly polemically charged, to demonstrate that such a thing as the ‘college’ really did exist, and describe its members and activities from inception to demise. It emerges that a network of ‘progressives’ was established in the early 1650s with the appointment of the Cartesians Johannes de Bruyn, Regnerus van Mansveld, Johannes Georgius Graevius, Francis Burman, and Louis Wolzogen to the university faculty, due at least in part to the secret scheming of the physician and councillor Lambertus van Velthuysen. This Cartesian network would clash repeatedly with the city’s ‘conservative’ party, led by the influential theologian Gisbertus Voetius, often seeking freedom from the meddling and censure of the latter’s Dutch Reformed church. I furthermore show how Van Velthuysen and company also began meeting weekly in the mid 1660s as a scholarly society, discussing a variety of literary, scientific, and philosophical themes in that closed setting until the early-to-mid 1670s. Above all, this scholarly society provided Utrecht’s leading intellectuals with a platform where they could openly reflect on and think through the latest and most provocative ideas—including those of Spinoza—and their implications for religion, away from the alarmed cries of the Voetians and their prying interference.