Universiteit Leiden

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Rosanne Baars


Dr. R.M. Baars
+31 71 527 2720

Rosanne Baars is a NWO-Veni postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for History.

More information about Rosanne Baars


In my research, I attempt to grasp what people in premodern societies knew about the world around them, how they perceived their world, and how they got their information. My main theme is the credibility of news in polarized and religiously divided societies. Who is to be trusted in troubled times of political unrest? Whose authority is deemed credible in verifying or dismantling rumours? 

After graduating cum laude at the University of Amsterdam, I obtained a personal PhD grant from the Dutch Research Council (Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen, 2013) to research the credibility and authority of foreign news sources during the Dutch Revolt and the French Wars of Religion. My book, Rumours of Revolt. Civil War and the Emergence of a Transnational News Culture in France and the Netherlands, 1561-1598 was published by Brill in 2021. My research on news, propaganda and diplomacy has also been published in French History, Renaissance Studies, Early Modern Low Countries and Lias, Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and its Sources. I have contributed chapters to various conference volumes and books for general audiences (see ‘Publications’).

Rumours were rife in diplomatic circles in early modern Istanbul. Women played an essential part in gathering intelligence. In this Veni research project, I will analyse a large amount of new data to study the credibility and authority of women as news-gatherers in early modern Istanbul. 

After lectureships in Amsterdam, Nijmegen and Leiden, I was a postdoc in the project ‘Building Peace: Transitional Justice in Early Modern France', based at Groningen University. Servicing the profession, I have worked as a research assistant on national and international projects,  as a crowd-sourcing coordinator at the Huygens Institute REPUBLIC-project, a reviewer for the Journal of Women’s History and French History, as a jury member of the Johan de Witt thesis prize, as a volunteer at the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam, and as an editor of the Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis. 

The topics of early modern fake news, the authority of women, and credibility in polarized societies echo key problems in our modern world. I have always been passionate about making my research accessible to a wider audience. I have collaborated on museum exhibitions, have extensively given lectures to lay audiences, and have written contributions in Geschiedenis Magazine, Amstelodamum and on history blogs. My popular scientific book Het journaal van Joannes Veltkamp (1759-1764): een scheepschirurgijn in dienst van de Admiraliteit van Amsterdam (WBooks, 2014) is a critical and lavishly illustrated edition of the travel journal of an eighteenth-century Dutch ship’s surgeon, Joannes Veltkamp, to Ottoman-controlled North Africa. The research for the book was funded by a J.C.M. Warnsinck Research Fellowship at het Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam.

Veni project (2024-2027): Women, Intelligence, and Diplomacy in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul

Premodern ambassadors were always male. As a consequence, scholarship has traditionally studied these men and their official missions. Only very recently have historians begun to recognize the vital role of women in premodern diplomacy, introducing the concept of ‘working couples’, where the ambassador and his wife shared diplomatic tasks. This research, however, has focused largely on ambassadors and ambassadresses, while embassies disposed of a large embassy staff of local secretaries, chancellors and translators.

While acknowledging their importance, scholars have found it hard to gauge the role of women in premodern diplomacy, due to a lack of material. Yet for my pioneering work on the Dutch-Levantine community of Istanbul, I found a wealth of unexplored material on local female embassy staff. To further our understanding of the role of women in diplomacy, this project postulates that we should study local women, who, I argue, were essential for the functioning of embassies abroad. These women would undertake the job of gathering intelligence, which was considered one of the key activities within diplomacy, using their local networks and knowledge to inform the ambassadorial couple. 

Istanbul, or Constantinople, was one of the most prestigious diplomatic posts in premodern times. All major Ottoman officials had harems, which were major centers for political intelligence, as their wives and concubines discussed politics and shared the latest news. These harems were only open to other women, making the gathering of intelligence a matter exclusively for women. 

This project has three objectives:

  • To further our knowledge of the diplomatic working couple and female diplomatic intelligence.
  • To analyse the mechanisms behind the credibility of news in polarized and religiously divided societies and the links between gender and authority.
  • To contribute to debates on the position of local ‘Eastern’women in Eurasian diplomacy during the rise of nationalism and orientalism in Europe.

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae
2024-present: NWO-Veni Postdoctoral Fellow, Leiden University
2022-2023: postdoctoral researcher ‘Building Peace in Early Modern France’, Groningen University
2021-2022: lecturer in Early Modern History, Leiden University
2021: lecturer in Early Modern History, Radboud University, Nijmegen
2021: coordinator crowdsourcing project REPUBLIC, Huygens ING, KNAW
2013-2021: PhD-candidate and lecturer in Early Modern History, University of Amsterdam

2019: PhD, University of Amsterdam
2011: rMA, cum laude, University of Amsterdam
2009: BA, cum laude¸ University of Amsterdam

2024-2027: Veni, Dutch Research Council (NWO)
2013-2017: PhD in the Humanities Grant (NWO)

2023: BYU French Political Pamphlet Fellowship, Provo, Utah
2022: Maddock Research Fellowship, Marsh’s Library, Dublin
2014: Visiting Grant Institut d’histoire de la Réformation, Geneva
2012 Research Fellowship Netherlands Institute in Turkey, Istanbul
2012: Prof. J.C.M. Warnsinck-fellowship, Het Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2,61



  • Boer T.W.M. de, Brand H., Brand R., Dissel A.M.C. van, Dreijer G.P., Heijveld W., Netten D.H. van, Vogelsang I.J.R., Wildeman D. & Baars R.M. (2023), Member of editorial staff Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis. Redactie tijdschrift, boekserie of website en peer-reviewer
  • Baars R.M. (26 August 2023), Wat vieren we eigenlijk? : Het Groningens Ontzet in de context van het Rampjaar 1672. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Groningen. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (11 October 2023), Touring the Provinces for peace and justice: the commissioners of the edict of Nantes in 17th-century France. Provo, Utah. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (2023), Tim en Paul en nieuws in de Vroegmoderne Tijd. Interviewed by Tim en Paul Geschiedenis Podcast. [interview]. Optreden voor tv, radio of in andere publieke media
  • Baars R.M. (2023), Identifier les visages célèbres des guerres de religion : informations sur les nobles français dans les chroniques, poèmes et chansons néerlandais, 1561-1598. Les guerres de Religion: une histoire européenne. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M., Linden D. van der, Jayasundara S. & Bouyer S.. ISS. The Hague. [contribution to an event]. Organisatie of bijdrage aan een 'event'
  • Baars R.M. (2022), “Never was there a time more suited for the dissemination of rumours” - Civil War and News Credibility in France and the Netherlands, 1561-1598. EMH Seminar. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (2022), Qui étaient les commissaires?: La noblesse protestante comme agent de paix sous l’édit de Nantes. Conference Être noble et protestant sous le régime de l’édit de (1598-1685). [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. & Bent van den J. (2022), Discrediting the Dutch : a French account of the Year of Disaster for Arab Audiences. Conference Het Rampjaar 350: The Dutch ‘Year of Disaster’ 1672 in European and Global Perspectives. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. & Bent J.M.C. van den (22 April 2022), Propaganda in het Rampjaar: van Amsterdam tot Aleppo. KNHG Voorjaarscongres 2022 – Bloed, kruit en tranen. Betekenis en herdenking van het Rampjaar 1672. Den Bosch. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (2021), Pierre de L’Estoile et les Pays-Bas’: colloque Pierre de L’Estoile, homme de cabinet, homme de réseaux. Colloque Pierre de L’Estoile, homme de cabinet, homme de réseaux. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (28 May 2021), ‘Betrouwbaar nieuws in de tijd van Willem van Oranje’. Amsterdam. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. & Bent J.M.C. van den (10 September 2021), Propaganda in het Rampjaar: van Amsterdam tot Aleppo. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (6 July 2018), Reactions in the Netherlands to the Nnws about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. York. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. & Janssen G.H. (3 October 2016), Geschiedenis als spiegelbeeld en inspiratie. Hoe Nederlands was de Nederlandse Gouden Eeuw?. Den Haag. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. (17 November 2016), The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre and news credibility. Utrecht. [lecture]. Uitvoering / lezing
  • Baars R.M. 18 August 2016 - 20 August 2016. Sixteenth Century Society Conference. Bruges. [conference attendance]. Congresdeelname
  • No relevant ancillary activities
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