As boorish as a Dutchman and as wild as a Pole? How Polish and Dutch people perceived and conceptualised each other in the seventeenth century

Tuesday 24 October 2023, 2:30 pm
PhD student
P. Hulsenboom
Prof. dr. Lotte Jensen, Prof. dr. Johan Oosterman

Just as now, the Netherlands and Poland maintained close contacts in a wide range of areas as early as the seventeenth century: from trade and diplomacy to religion and science. At the same time, Polish and Dutch people developed different ideas about each other. These mutual Polish-Dutch representations are the subject of this PhD thesis. Paul Hulsenboom examined a rich collection of textual and visual sources, including Dutch, Polish, and Latin travelogues, poems and pamphlets, prints, maps, and paintings. Many of these sources have never been studied before. Hulsenboom reconstructs the complex web of Polish-Dutch representations: from the Netherlands as a war school to the Dutch themselves as heretic peasants, and from Poland as a grain-rich trading partner to the Polish people as uncivilised savages. Moreover, Hulsenboom explains where these representations came from and what functions they fulfilled, for example in politics. He pays special attention to the historical context, processes of cultural transfer, and the role of networks and propaganda. Finally, he argues that the current psychological schism between Western and Eastern Europe finds its roots in the seventeenth century. Combining Dutch and Polish perspectives, this PhD thesis makes an important, innovative contribution to the historiography of early modern Europe. 

Paul Hulsenboom (1990) has a Dutch-Polish background and works as a researcher, lecturer and educational developer at the Dutch Language and Culture department of Radboud University. He completed a Bachelor's degree in Classical Languages and Cultures and a Research Master's degree in Literary Studies (both cum laude) at Radboud University. He went on to complete the academic teacher training programme, and worked as a Classical Languages teacher at two secondary schools. In 2021-2022, he also taught at the Dutch Language and Culture department of Utrecht University. He has authored 12 academic publications, on such topics as early modern Polish-Dutch contacts and representations, Latin poetry, travel culture, and diplomacy. In 2017, he won an award for three of his articles. He has also authored several Polish-Dutch translations, and won the annual Polish-Dutch literary translation prize in 2016. He enjoys writing and speaking for a wide audience of all ages, in English, Dutch, and Polish. See: