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Words at War: The Early Years of William of Orange's Propaganda

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image of Journal of Early Modern History

The propaganda efforts in the early years of the Dutch Revolt left us countless pamphlets and dozens of songs and prints. Yet our understanding of the development, the operation, and the reach of particularly William of Orange's propaganda efforts remains limited. This article explores to what extent Orange consciously launched a public relations campaign through literary propaganda. Orange had good success in attracting literary talents to defend the cause of the Revolt and his own leadership. The authors who labored on Orange's behalf varied in social background and experience. Some were engaged in pamphlet writing and others in balladry, while a few gained a position as personal advisor to the prince. The anonymous hymn Wilhelmus van Nassouwe also hails from these early years, yet its origin is an unresolved mystery. A first reconstruction of Orange's propaganda network brings forth a new candidate for the authorship of this very influential song.

Affiliations: 1: Digital Library of Dutch Literature Foundation, Leiden


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