Pamphlets, Great Britain, and the Bestandstwisten: The Use of British Sources in the Dutch Disputes of the 1610s

Eric W. Platt


One of the main weapons to gain public support during the Dutch religious and political disputes of the 1610s was the cheap, typically short, pamphlet. These pamphlets set forth authors’ positions on topics such as proper church-state relations and predestination, using language that could be easily understood by the average person. In producing these works, Dutch pamphleteers repeatedly chose to use British sources, and a large number of these pamphlets were direct translations of British works, ranging from letters written by King James and his advisors to governmental decrees to religious works. Even those pamphlets that were not direct translations frequently utilized British authors and examples when setting forth their arguments. While these Dutch  translations provided accurate renderings of the original text, pamphleteers frequently used a new ‘Foreword’ or even a
pamphlet’s title to highlight a benefi cial argument or shade a reader’s interpretation of it. Dutch pamphlets referring to British fi gures or examples made equally adept use of their sources. Pamphleteers also utilized other foreign sources, but there was a heavier recourse to British texts than to any other. Indeed, no major subject was debated in the  pamphlet war of the 1610s without repeated references to them.


Bestandstwisten, pamphlets, James I, Remonstrants, Contra- Remonstrants, Synod of Dort

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