The tenure of Johan Maurits of Nassau (1604–1679), a member of the princely House of Orange, as single governor-general in the Dutch colony in Brazil epitomizes the monarchical overtones—crowned by processes of somewhat problematic self-glorification—of republican rule in the United Provinces’s overseas arena. At Maurits’s princely court in Brazil, the Dutch Republic’s (extended) ceremonial considerations still proved too close for comfort. Upon his dismissal (1644), back among republican ranks in Northern Europe the former governor-general who had so boldly outstretched the social scale was left with symbolic spoils only. Maurits nonetheless held on to the echo of his regal aura by smoothing the imposed remove from (physical) court through its representation in print and poetry.
Maurits’s memory has famously been associated with publications that connect geography and natural history to the celebration of colonial enterprise, ranging from Barlaeus’s Rerum per octennium in Brasilia historia (1647) over Piso and Marcgraf’s Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (1648) to Piso’s De India Utriusque (1658). Another monumental publication, however, has so far remained overshadowed by these books’ more pervasive fame and fortuna: the epic poem Mauritias (1647), written by Franciscus Plante (1613–1690), but commissioned and subsidized by Maurits himself. During this seminar, we will combine approaches from book history and classical reception studies to unpack just why and how Johan Maurits was represented on the paper stage of the Baroque as the shape-shifting hero of politically coloured poetry and cultural print production.
Further information can be found HERE.