A fascinating exploration of the relationship of competition and assimilation between England and the Netherlands during the 17th century, revealing how Dutch tolerance, resilience and commercial acumen effectively conquered England by permanently reshaping the intellectual landscape long before Dutch monarchs sat on the English throne.
Working backwards from the bloodless revolution that set William and Mary of Orange on the English throne in 1688, this bold and ambitious work redefines the history of cultural and commercial interconnection between two of the world’s most powerful trading empires at a time of great intellectual and geographical discovery.
Weaving together the lives of the great thinkers of the time, Jardine demonstrates how individuals such as Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Christiaan Huygens and Margaret Cavendish, usually depicted as instances of isolated genius, in fact evolved within a context of easy Anglo-Dutch exchange that laid the groundwork for the European Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.
This fascinating history of big ideas and remarkable individuals denounces the traditional view that the rise of England as a world power took place at the expense of the Dutch, asserting instead that what is usually interpreted as the decline of the Dutch trading empire was in fact a ‘passing on’ of the baton to an England expanding in power and influence. In so doing, Jardine not only challenges traditional interpretations of the role of the British Empire in Enlightenment Europe, but also raises probing questions about the position in which post-Empire Britain finds itself today.