PoP Tour, Utrecht 2013

I didn’t get a concert t-shirt, but I probably should’ve looked for one, since Utrecht had banners and signs everywhere celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Peace of Utrecht.

Peace of Utrecht

Swords into Ploughshares? Maybe if we’re talking Katy the Plow

The program (short version) of the Performances of Peace conference is here for those interested – the long printed version included paper abstracts, which was a good idea. Lots of interesting papers on politics, diplomacy and culture related to the war and especially the peace.

So I attended panels, presented my paper on Marlborough as Great Captain, asked probing questions, saw friends and acquaintances (including meeting blog commenter Björn Thegeby), and generally had a gezellig time. My wife and I stayed at the Karel V hotel, which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to stay in a former Teutonic Order hospital, later occupied by Charles V when he visited the town.

Those in the region might want to check out the Centraal Museum’s exhibition on the Peace (some of its holdings will later travel to museums in Madrid, Rastatt and Baden). For an exhibit on the Peace of Utrecht it starts out rather oddly with some items on the Reformation (I guess the Spanish Succession must have been a war of religion…). Louis is also credited with hegemonic aspirations, but I guess old boogeymen die hard. I’d have to say the highlight for me was a suit of armor fit for a small boy, I believe said to be manufactured for that poor Wittelsbach prince Joseph Ferdinand, would-be king of Spain (according to the first partition treaty between William and Louis). But then he died at 6. Oops.


There was also a wall-sized computer animated map of Blenheim – with (I think) individual regiments denoted (not just lines), as well as icons indicating the various commanders traipsing about the battlefield. I didn’t pay close attention, but I’d have to think there was a lot of speculative positioning of all the individual units – fog of battle and all.

Portraits and battle scenes, coins and medals, historical board games and stupid games for kids…  what you’d expect from a modern museum exhibit. Worth the trip if you’re near the Low Countries. A catalog of the exhibit is also available from the Centraal Museum’s website. And did I mention that since it’s European, there’s also a comic book (strip or bande dessinée) you can buy on the Peace?



3 responses to “PoP Tour, Utrecht 2013”

  1. Wienand Drenth says :

    Hope you didn’t find the weather too bad during your stay. There is, luckily, pretty much attention to the Peace of Utrecht. Only, in an article one Dutch quality newspaper devoted to it, the role of the Dutch Republic as one of the belligerent nations was totally neglected! There still is that persistent image that the Dutch Republic was a peace-full trading and sea-going state…

    Anyway, thanks for the tip on the Centraal Museum. We intend to go there next week. Will try not to be too picky on the Blenheim tableau. It seems a bit daft, but though I live just 1 hour from Utrecht by train, I never thought of checking any agenda regarding the Peace.

    • jostwald says :

      Weather was fine – rainy for a day, but that’s northern Europe in the spring.

      Regarding the pacifistic Dutch, see J.L. Price, “A State Dedicated to War? The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century,” in Andrew Ayton, ed. The Medieval Military Revolution: State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Tauris Academic Studies, 1995).

      I would think the modern Swedes might be a similar case, although having two charging Great Captains may provide them with “better” role models.

      • Wienand Drenth says :

        Happened to visit the museum yesterday, and was really please to see what they put together. Nice paintings of men in armour, etc. As you already wrote, the start with the Reformation and the assumption that the WSS was a war of religion, is a bit odd. But perhaps this is an attempt to put events not just in perspective, but also in meta-perspective. The Blenheim animation was confusing at best. In the town museum in Hochstadt they have a nice diorama with few hundred nicely painted tin soldiers. Much more telling. The animation related to the claimants was instructive.

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