Heaven's Wrath: The Protestant Reformation and the Dutch West India Company in the Atlantic World

Heaven's Wrath: The Protestant Reformation and the Dutch West India Company in the Atlantic World

by D. L. Noorlander


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Heaven's Wrath explores the religious thought and religious rites of the early Dutch Atlantic world. D. L. Noorlander argues that the Reformed Church and the West India Company forged and maintained a close union, with considerable consequences across the seventeenth century.

Dutch merchants, officers, sailors, and soldiers found in their faith an ideology and justification for mercantile and martial activities. The West India Company supported the Reformed Church financially in Europe and helped spread Calvinism to other continents, while Calvinist employees and colonists benefitted from the familiar aspects of religious instruction and public worship. Yet, Noorlander argues, the church-company union also encouraged destructive military operations against Catholic enemies abroad and divisive campaigns against sinners and religious nonconformers in colonial courts. Religious fervor, violence, and intolerance imposed financial and demographic costs that the small Dutch Republic and its people-strapped colonies could not afford. At the same time, the Reformed Church in the Netherlands undermined its own religious mission by trying to control colonial hires, publications, and organization from afar.

Noorlander's argument in Heaven's Wrath questions the core assumptions about why the Dutch failed to establish a durable empire in America. He downplays the usual commercial explanations and places the focus instead on the tremendous expenses incurred in the Calvinist-backed war and the Reformed Church's meticulous, worried management of colonial affairs.

By pinpointing the issues that hampered the size and import of the Dutch Atlantic world, Noorlander is poised to revise core notions about the organization and aims of the Dutch empire, the culture of the West India Company, and the very shape of Dutch society....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801453632
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2019
Series: New Netherland Institute Studies
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

D. L. Noorlander is Assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York at Oneonta. Follow him on Twitter @DLNoorlander.

What People are Saying About This

Willem Frijhoff

"Heaven's Wrath shows D. L. Noorlander's mastery of the theme connecting the Dutch West India Company and the Reformed Church. This is work of the highest quality."

Evan Haefeli

"This is an impressive, ambitious study that will change the conversation about religion, trade, and imperial expansion in the case of the Dutch. Heaven's Wrath exceeds all other work on the topic."

Hans Krabbendam

"D. L. Noorlander has written an effective, strongly argued examination of the Dutch Republic and the colonial enterprise of the West India Company."

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