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The Early-Modern Dutch, French and English Ambassador, His Functions and Career


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students. Command of Dutch reading and reading of seventeenth century (Dutch) manuscript is recommended.


This course examines the discourse on the ‘ideal ambassador’, it explores the profile of the early modern diplomat and his functions. In early modern treatises on diplomacy the ambassador was the central figure of study. In this course works on the perfect ambassadors will be studied and a list of characteristics and functions will be derived from the most authoritative publications (e.a. A. Wicquefort, F. Callières, L. Rousseau de Chamoy). A construct of a theoretical profile of the ideal ambassador and his functions will be composed and used as a research framework. Within this framework Dutch ambassadors and visiting foreign ambassadors to the States General, in particular French and English diplomats will be studied in a comparative approach. The principal aim of this course is to examine the characteristics and functions of Dutch ambassadors in comparison to their French and English colleagues and in relation to the concept of the ‘Parfait Ambassadeur’. The scope of research is the later seventeenth century (from the Peace of Westphalia (1648) until the Peace of Utrecht).

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 2) The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 3) The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 4) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 5) 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;

  • 6) The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • 7) 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;

  • 8) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 9) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 10) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the specialisation or subspecialisation as well as of the historiography of the specialisation Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on the broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodisation and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on 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:

  • 13) acquires a broad knowledge of the political and diplomatic history of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

  • 14) learns how to conduct research into published and unpublished primary sources, related to the course theme,

  • 15) and to make a Europe-wide, comparative evaluation of the results.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 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 .


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


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

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

  • Circulation of course materials

  • Posting of source fragments

  • Announcements

Reading list

To be announced at the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. M. Ebben