St. Francis History Prof Examines 17th Century British/Dutch Dispute

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Dr. Eric Platt, a history professor at St. Francis College, has recently released a new book titled “Britain and the Bestandstwisten: The Causes, Course and Consequences of British Involvement in the Dutch Religious and Political Disputes of the Early Seventeenth Century.” Photo courtesy of St. Francis College.

St. Francis College history Professor Eric Platt goes back to the 1600s to examine a major dispute on religion and political power in his new book, “Britain and the Bestandstwisten: The Causes, Course and Consequences of British Involvement in the Dutch Religious and Political Disputes of the Early Seventeenth Century” (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).

The book focuses on British involvement in a serious conflict that arose in the Dutch Republic during the 1610s over differing views on religious doctrine, church-state relations and the very nature of the Dutch state (the Bestandstwisten). King James I and other major British political and religious figures, fearing the conflict would spread to Great Britain, became closely involved and had a significant effect on its ultimate outcome.

Both sides in the Dutch disputes also greatly relied on British sources when writing pamphlets to gain the support of the general population. The conflict ultimately had a major impact on Great Britain as well. Similar political and religious debates, with a clear connection to the earlier Dutch disputes, were a major cause of the English Civil War of the 1640s. Dr. Platt’s work is the first published full-length treatment of British involvement in the conflict.

“In the past, many historians of the British Isles argued that the English Channel largely isolated Great Britain from cultural, political and religious developments in the rest of Europe,” Platt said. “My work, along with the scholarship of other recent historians, shows that the British Isles were much more involved with and impacted by other European countries during the 1500s and 1600s than had previously been thought.”

Platt’s research on British involvement in the Dutch disputes stems from his interest in transnational relations during the early modern period, especially on interactions among various cultures and the impact they had on each other.  His next major research project will look at Anglo-Dutch relations on this side of the Atlantic, specifically the founding of Gravesend by the Englishwoman Deborah Moody in New Netherland during the 1640s.

Platt is also an active participant in the Tuning Project, a national collection of college history professors that aims to redefine and reinvigorate the teaching of history across the United States.  An article co-written by Platt, describing a Tuning event held at St. Francis College, was recently published in the American Historical Association magazine.

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