Flooding as a Military Strategy

Flooding is part of life in the Netherlands. But, at least since the sixteenth century, humans have deliberately instigated floods as a military strategy.

During the Dutch Revolt (1566-1648), dykes were periodically opened in order to flood portions of the countryside in the Netherlands as a defensive measure against advancing armies. Strong religious motivations shaped the civil conflict in the Netherlands, as the Spanish Army of Flanders and local Catholics attempted to suppress a rebellion by militant Dutch Calvinists. One of the most famous incidents of deliberate flooding occurred in 1584, when Dutch forces under William of Orange destroyed seawalls in an attempt to protect the city of Antwerp, which was besieged by Spanish troops.


Adriaan de Kraker (Assistant Professor,  VU University Amsterdam) has been researching deliberate flooding from 1500 to the present. He argues that “the plan got completely out of hand. … It came at the expense of the countryside of northern Flanders, now Zeeland Flanders, some two thirds of which was flooded.”

Flooding continued to be used periodically as a military strategy during later wars in the Netherlands.


Adriaan de Kraker’s article is available online at Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. The European Geosciences Union reports on de Kraker’s research.

Posted in Catholicism and Religious Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, Civilians and Religious Violence, European Wars of Religion, Protestantism and Religious Violence | 1 Comment

Brexit Vote and the Reformation

As Britain prepares for the Brexit vote, a major referendum on U.K. membership in the European Union, historical comparisons have framed the debate.

References to the Second World War loom large in the Brexit debate. Prime Minister David Cameron and other pro-E.U. membership advocates have frequently cited Winston Churchill and British engagement in World War II as offering a sterling example of Britain’s embrace of the idea of Europe. Meanwhile, some in the anti-E.U. campaign have likened Cameron to Neville Chamberlain, who infamously agreed to the Munich Pact with Adolf Hitler.

Yet, another powerful historical period is also framing the debate: the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. “If you ever wondered about the origins of English Euroscepticism, look no further than the Protestant Reformation,” wrote Adrian Pabst in 2009.


The sweeping changes of the English Reformation and the European Wars of Religion seem to provide numerous metaphors of a Britain both disconnected and connected with “continental” Europe. Henry VIII’s dramatic break with the Latin Christian Church and Act of Supremacy forged a Church of England with the king as its head. The ensuing Wars of Religion included a period of re-Catholicization under Queen Mary, known by her Protestant enemies as “Bloody Mary” and a series of English military interventions in France and the Netherlands to support fellow Protestants. The Spanish Armada of 1588 aimed at a military occupation and conversion of England, but Elizabethan resistance arguably helped forge an early form of English nationalism.

Some politicians and intellectuals involved in the Brexit debate now draw directly on this Reformation history.  A number of historians have directly entered this public debate.  “David Starkey, a Cambridge historian critical of the European Union, has drawn a direct parallel with the modern battle for the nation’s soul,” according to The New York Times.

Starkey argues that “England’s semidetached relationship with continental Europe is neither new nor an aberration … Instead, it is deeply rooted in the political development of the past 500 years.”

The Reformation era debate over papal versus royal authority over religious institutions “was couched in strikingly ‘modern’ terms,” suggests Starkey, who claims that defenders of papal supremacy acted much “like a contemporary europhile.”

The New York Times underlines that “then, as now, the notion of sovereignty was central to the discussion, and the implications were enormous. By breaking with Rome, some historians argue, the English came to see themselves a nation apart — a self-image magnified by the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707 and by centuries of colonial expansion.”

The New York Times reports on the British “divorce” from Europe. Adrian Pabst’s piece is published in The Guardian.



Posted in Catholicism and Religious Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, Confessionalization, European Wars of Religion, Protestantism and Religious Violence, Religion and International Relations, Religious Nationalism | Leave a comment

Dissertation Seminar in History at the Newberry Library

The Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library will be hosting a dissertation seminar in History in Fall 2016.

Ph.D. candidates in Renaissance, Reformation, Early Modern European, Atlantic World History, and Early Modern World History at Northern Illinois University and other Newberry consortium institutions may take this seminar for credit in their home programs.

Here is the Newberry Library’s announcement:


Fall 2016 Dissertation Seminar for Historians

Led by Craig Koslofsky and Robert Morrissey, both of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Submission Deadline: May 1
The seminar will meet from 2 to 5 pm on four Fridays: September 16, October 21, November 18, and December 9.

Apply online here: https://www.newberry.org/09162016-2016-dissertation-seminar-historians

This seminar will create a broad-based community of graduate students who are at the beginning stages of working on their dissertations in the history of Europe or the Atlantic World, c. 1400-c. 1750. The goal is to provide comments and criticisms from a larger group of specialists than would be available on any single campus. Discussions will focus on methods and comparisons, with an eye to helping PhD candidates articulate the larger intellectual and historical significance of their specialized research.

Eligibility: The seminar will be limited to 12 participants who have passed all examinations and achieved ABD status by the time of the seminar. Applicants should be near the beginning rather than the end of their dissertation research. Priority is given to students from Center for Renaissance Studies consortium schools.

Students from Center for Renaissance Studies consortium schools ( http://www.newberry.org/center-renaissance-studies-consortium-members ) have priority, in accordance with consortium membership benefits. Fees are waived for students from consortium institutions. Such students  may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend ( http://www.newberry.org/newberry-renaissance-consortium-grants ). Each member university sets its own policies, limitations, and deadlines, and some may limit eligibility to certain departments or units within the institution; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Posted in Christian-Muslim Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, European Wars of Religion, Graduate Studies of Religious Violence, Lectures and Seminars | 1 Comment

Art History Lectures at the Smart Museum

The Smart Museum at the University of Chicago is offering a series of lectures in art history in April and May 2016.

Northern Illinois graduate students are encouraged to attend lectures that relate to their historical studies.


Posted in Concept of Religion, Graduate Studies of Religious Violence, Lectures and Seminars | 1 Comment

Graduate Seminar at the Newberry Library

The Newberry Library is offering a graduate seminar on “Gender, Bodies, and the Body Politic in Medieval Europe” in Fall 2016.

Northern Illinois University is a consortium member of the Newberry Library. This status allows graduate students at Northern Illinois and other consortium universities to enroll in Newberry seminars for credit at their home institutions.

This seminar is a great opportunity for graduate students interested in religious history, gender history, and the history of political culture.

The Newberry Library’s announcement reads:

Fall 2016 Ten-Week Graduate Seminar

Early application deadline: May 1

Gender, Bodies, and the Body Politic in Medieval Europe
2-5 pm Thursdays, September 29 to December 8
Led by Tanya Stabler Miller, Loyola University Chicago

Details and online application: https://www.newberry.org/09292016-gender-bodies-and-body-politic-medieval-europe

This seminar will examine the relationship between gender, sex differences, and politics-defined broadly-in medieval Europe, exploring the ways in which systems of power mapped onto perceived sex differences and bolstered, reproduced, or authenticated those systems. Through a close reading of political treatises, sermons, mystical literature, and church decrees, participants will evaluate the ways in which gendered discourses supported or weakened institutional, political, and religious authority, even in situations that seemingly had nothing to do with “real” women. Thus, investigations will move beyond “exceptional” women who exercised political power (for example royal and noblewomen), illuminating the effects of gendered symbols and discourses on institutions or spaces from which real women were increasingly marginalized (for example royal authority) or completely excluded (for example the medieval university). In this way, this seminar will take up the challenge of Joan Scott’s influential historiographical essay “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” Nevertheless, we will not lose sight of the effects gendered constructs and discourses had on real women, nor the specific strategies women employed to manipulate or subvert the systems and institutions that limited their agency.

Prerequisites: None, although the instructor prefers that students work with texts that they can read in the original language whenever possible.

For all these programs, students from Center for Renaissance Studies consortium schools ( http://www.newberry.org/center-renaissance-studies-consortium-members) have priority, in accordance with the consortium agreement. Fees are waived for students from consortium institutions. Such students  may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend ( http://www.newberry.org/newberry-renaissance-consortium-grants). Each member university sets its own policies, limitations, and deadlines, and some may limit eligibility to certain departments or units within the institution; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Posted in Christian-Muslim Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, Gender and Religious Violence, Graduate Studies of Religious Violence, Lectures and Seminars, Seminars and Workshops | 1 Comment

Post-Doctoral Position in Religious History

The Newberry Library is offering a post-doctoral fellowship in religious history in conjunction with its initiative on Religious Change in Europe, 1450-1700.

Northern Illinois University graduate students who have taken HIST 640 Religious Violence in Comparative Perspective from 1500 to Today may be interested in applying for this fellowship.

The Newberry Library’s announcement reads:


The  Newberry Mellon Major Projects Fellow will participate in diverse aspects of planning and preparation for the library’s major scholarly initiative focused on Religious Change in Europe, 1450-1700. The initiative will include gallery and online exhibitions and additional digital resources, as well as programs for scholars, students, and the public. These programs will take the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses as a starting point for a multidisciplinary examination of the Reformation and its immediate aftermath. The majority of the public programs will take place during the 2017-18 academic year. The fellow will report to the Director of Exhibitions and Major Projects.


  • For gallery and digital exhibitions: collaborate with members of the project team (comprising Newberry staff members and outside scholars) in framing and refining exhibition categories; identify preliminary selections and research specific items in the collection for inclusion; translate titles and short texts into English; assist with label writing, planning, and administration
  • For related digital resources: collaborate with the Digital Initiatives Librarian and other members of the project team in conceptualizing, designing and implementing the digital humanities components of the project, which may include blog posts, podcasts, videos, interactive timelines and maps, outreach through social media, and crowd-sourced programs; identify preliminary selections, research specific items in the collection for inclusion, and assist with translation of and writing textual components and scripts and with planning and administration
  • Assist project team in conceptualizing and planning public and scholarly programs
  • Carry out other assignments as needed to achieve departmental goals
  • Provide assistance to other Newberry Library departments and initiatives, including but not limited to Collections and Library Services, Research and Academic Programs, Development, and Communications projects

PhD in a humanities field, with a research focus on the history of religion in early modern Europe. Reading fluency in modern and early modern German required; reading competency in two other European languages, such as Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish, highly desirable. Experience in digital humanities and using primary source materials in research preferred. Familiarity with Microsoft Office suite, Omeka, and project management software preferred. Demonstrated excellent oral and written communications skills and the ability to interact and collaborate with diverse constituencies required.

SCHEDULE: Full-time, 35 hours/week, Monday through Friday with occasional evenings and weekends for special events. One-year, grant-funded, exempt position.

TERM: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Review of applications will begin May 1, 2016, and continue until the position is filled.

Send application materials to The Office of Human Resources at hr@newberry.org. Include a cover letter, CV, short writing sample (30 pages or less), and contact information for three references. Please indicate your start date availability in the cover letter.

About the Newberry Library
A world-renowned independent research library in Chicago, the Newberry offers readers an extensive noncirculating collection of rare books, maps, music, manuscripts, and other printed material spanning six centuries. Its staff provides award-winning service and supports a rich array of programmatic opportunities.

Posted in Catholicism and Religious Violence, Christianity and Religious Violence, Confessionalization, European Wars of Religion, Graduate Studies of Religious Violence, Grants and Fellowships, Protestantism and Religious Violence | 1 Comment

Newberry Graduate Scholar-in-Residence Program

The Newberry Library in Chicago is offering residencies for graduate students researching and writing their dissertations.  Graduate students receive a carrel and have access to the impressive rare book, pamphlet, manuscript and map collections of the Newberry Library.

The Newberry has several major collections of religious books and pamphlets from the early modern period. Graduate students researching aspects of the Reformation and European Wars of Religion may want to apply for a residency.

Here is the Newberry Library’s announcement:


Graduate Scholar-in-Residence Program at the Newberry Library

The Graduate Scholar-in-Residence program allows Ph.D. candidates to be in residence at the Newberry for an academic year. We promise intriguing and often rare materials from our world-class collections in the humanities; a lively, interdisciplinary community of researchers; individual consultations with curators, librarians, and other scholars; and an array of both scholarly and public programs.

The Graduate Scholar Program encourages local graduate students who have advanced to candidacy (ABD status) by May 2016 to apply to be in residence. If selected, students must spend at least 10 hours per week in residence during the academic year, which we define as September 2016 to May 2017.

Although the Newberry cannot offer remuneration to participants of the Graduate Scholar Program, we can offer several privileges, including a private research carrel, access to the Newberry during extended hours, opportunities to present research and dissertation chapters, and intellectual support from the Newberry’s interdisciplinary scholarly community.

Deadline to apply: 11:59 CST on May 1, 2016. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application in June 2016.

For more information about this opportunity, including eligibility requirements, application guidelines, and a link to the application webform, please visit our website at: www.newberry.org/graduate-scholar-residence-program

Office of Research and Academic Programs
The Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60610
312-255-3666 | research@newberry.org

Posted in European Wars of Religion, Graduate Studies of Religious Violence, Grants and Fellowships, Research Centers on Violence, Research on Religious Violence | 1 Comment