Serving God and Mammon : the Reformed Church and the Dutch West India Company in the Atlantic World, 1621-1674
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This dissertation asks how the Reformed Church informed and shaped the Dutch experience in the seventeenth-century Atlantic world. It challenges a common view that Dutch expansion was a uniquely commercial phenomenon, that Dutch trade and religion occupied separate, distinct spheres. While the West India Company (WIC) was certainly a business, designed to generate wealth, it bore the powers and responsibilities of a state. Political, religious, and economic goals were combined under the company. Favoring religion brings extra-commercial aims and activities into sharp focus, demonstrating the diversity of Dutch interests, contesting the stereotypes that sometimes divide the story of European expansion too neatly along lines of national difference. The broad framework of Atlantic history serves a similar purpose: By giving equal weight to Dutch activities in Europe, West Africa, and America, this study avoids drawing conclusions about the WIC and Dutch expansion based on one place.; The main body of the dissertation is divided into six chapters. They examine the religious life of company directors and merchants in cities like Amsterdam, the nature of worship at sea, religious rituals in times of war, efforts to convert indigenous peoples and reform colonial societies, the role of Reformed consistories as centers of opposition to unpopular policies and rulers, and related matters. As the only colonial power with a Reformed Church, the Dutch provide a unique chance to study Calvinist expansion. The church's diffuse structure complicated the question of oversight, but its various councils found ways to work together on important issues. Reformed clergy embraced the WIC as a divine tool. Calvinist ideas about religious authority also allowed merchants to participate on major church councils, influence clerical views of their vocation, and conduct a great deal of business with the church as they strove to meet ecclesiastical needs abroad. Conversely, the church's inflexibility and fear that foreign influences might corrupt its doctrines and traditions were detrimental to planting Protestantism.
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