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Helmer J. Helmers

Helmers, Helmer

Individual Fellow

The Dutch Republic and the Rise of Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe

How did diplomats in the past appeal to public opinion in order to achieve their political aims? And what role did the Dutch Republic play in the rise of public diplomacy?

Project Description

Public diplomacy is the practice to affect international relations by reaching out to foreign audiences. While recent scholarship has analysed and theorized this practice in modern international relations, historical diplomacy is still often thought of in terms of peer-to-peer interaction and secrecy. This book project seeks to show that public diplomacy became a central aspect of international relations in the early modern period (1550-1700). Focusing on the case of the Dutch Republic, it examines how, when, and why early modern diplomats communicated with foreign audiences, especially in their efforts to influence the new printed media. Now that many people are concerned about false news and foreign manipulations of elections through the media, this lost history of public diplomacy is more topical than ever before.

Selected Publications

The Royalist Republic. Literature, Politics and Religion in the Anglo-Dutch Public Sphere, 1639-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

“Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe. Towards a New History of News” Media History 22:3-4 (2016), 401-420.


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