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  • Author or Editor: Maartje van Gelder x
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This article explores the ways in which Dutch converts to Islam acted as informants, intermediaries and at times even informal diplomats for the Dutch Republic, a newcomer to Mediterranean trade and diplomacy. It asks how these renegades, who often occupied high ranks in the North African corsairing fleets and local positions of power, facilitated and shaped Dutch-North African relations. The article explores the renegades’ diplomatic services, follows them as they (re)establish contact with the Dutch Republic, and analyzes how they fashioned themselves as cross-confessional mediators. Far from being marginal figures caught in the dichotomy of a Christian past and a Muslim present, Dutch renegades operated as part of a continuum that encompassed both the Islamic Mediterranean and the Dutch Republic.

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In: Journal of Early Modern History
Trading Places
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The Netherlandish Merchants in Early Modern Venice
Trading Places is winner of the triennial Historical Research Award of Italy Studies (2012).

This book deals with the Netherlandish merchant community in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Venice. It examines the merchants’ commercial activities, their social and communal relations, as well as their interaction with the Venetian state, which was accustomed to protect its own trade. The Netherlandish merchants in Venice, as part of an extensive international trading network, were ideally placed to connect Mediterranean and Atlantic commerce. They quickly became the most important group of foreign merchants in the city at a time of rapid economic changes. Drawing on a wide variety of primary sources, this book shows how these immigrant traders used their strong commercial position to secure a place in Venice. It demonstrates how the changing balance of international commerce affected early modern Venetian society.


In: Double Agents
In: Double Agents

This special issue, an exercise in integrated Mediterranean history through the lens of diplomacy, demonstrates that diplomatic genres and practices associated with a European political and cultural tradition, on the one hand, or an Islamic tradition, on the other, were not produced in isolation but attained meaning through the process of mediation and negotiation among intermediaries of different confessional and social backgrounds. Building on the “new diplomatic history,” the essays focus on non-elite (e.g. Christian slaves, renegades, Jewish doctors, Moriscos) and less commonly studied (mid- and high-ranking Muslim officials) intermediaries in Mediterranean cross-confessional diplomacy. The issue argues that the early modern period witnessed a relative balance of power among Muslim- and Christian-ruled polities: negotiations entailed not only principles of reciprocity, parity, and commensurability, but these were actually enforceable in practice. This challenges the notion of European diplomatic supremacy, prompting scholars to fundamentally rethink the narrative about the origins of early modern diplomacy.

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In: Journal of Early Modern History