Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Research project

Exile memories

This subproject examines how memories of flight and persecution shaped new social and religious identities in the Netherlands.

2008 - 2013
Judith Pollmann
NWO Vici NWO Vici


The Dutch Revolt and the religious persecutions preceding it, led to one of the first major waves of confessional mass migration in Early Modern Europe. On the threshold of the ‘Golden Age’ of the Northern Netherlands, large parts of the Low Countries experienced war, pillage and destruction, which drove hundreds of thousands of people into exile. Especially Protestants from the Southern provinces, but also Catholics from rebel-held territories sought refuge in other parts of the Low Countries, in England or the Holy Roman Empire. When the Calvinist republics in Brabant and Flanders were conquered by Royalist armies in 1580s, entire networks of protestant merchants and artisans were transplanted to Holland and Zeeland.


In this project, I examine the memory cultures that emerged in the Netherlandish exile communities to study how memories of flight and persecution shaped new social and religious identities. Scholars working on early modern migration have often suggested that the fashioning of a religious exile identity was a typical Calvinist phenomenon. Yet exile memories were also preserved and fashioned by Mennonites, Lutherans and even Catholics and can be studied from cross-confessional perspective. By focusing on the various religious and cultural meanings of exile, I analyse what the functions of memories about the bitter past were and why they were relevant for the descendants of the refugees.

This website uses cookies.  More information.