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‘For the Honour and Dignity of the State’: Dutch Ambassadors Representing the States General at European Courts, 1648-1702


Admission requirements

Relevant BA-degree or demonstrable general knowledge of early modern history and of doing research in early modern history on the basis of primary sources from the seventeenth century.


During the last three decades diplomatic history has undergone profound changes, leading historians to focus on the diplomatic process and its cultural dimensions rather than the results of diplomatic activity. Attention on political and economic aspects of diplomatic history gave way to more emphasis on cultural and social cultural dimensions. As a result more research has been done on embassies, diplomatic life, diplomatic culture, protocol and court rituals, cultural exchange and provision of information.
This approach will be pre-eminent in this course and will focus on the Dutch embassy in the second half of the seventeenth century. Diplomatic appointment of whom and by who will be studied as well as the organisation of the Dutch embassy, its functions and how it operated at the European courts. Students will research literature, published and unpublished primary sources.

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
    1. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
    1. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. The ability to provide and receive constructive academic feedback;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
    • in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodization and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.
    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following:
    • in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: the ability to analyse and evaluate primary sources from the period, if necessary with the aid of modern translations; ability to make use of relevant methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret sources in their textual and historical context.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar
The student:

    1. Students acquire a broad knowledge of the political and court history of Europe in the seventeenth century.
    1. Students learn how to conduct research into published and unpublished primary sources, related to the course theme,
    1. and to make a Europe-wide, comparative evaluation of the results.


See Timetable and deadlines History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total study load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours

  • Classes: 24 hours.

  • Preparatory reading: 20 hours.

  • Class preparation and presentation: 36

  • Independent research and writing of the essay: 200 hours.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-14 (ResMA: 1-8, 10, 11-15)

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 9, 10

  • Participation
    Measured learning objectives: 7, 9, 11-12

Written paper: 70 %
Oral presentation: 15 %
Participation: 15 %

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.

Written papers should be handed in within the given deadline.

Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.


Blackboard is used in this course for:

  • Circulation of course materials

  • Posting of source fragments

  • Announcements.

Reading list

  • J. Black, A History of Diplomacy (London 2010/2011).

  • Other literature will be announced during the course.


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


dhr. Dr. M.A. Ebben