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Willem Silvius, Christiaen Houweel and anti-Spanish propaganda, 1577 to 1579

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Christiaen Houweel (Christianus Hauwelius) is one of the Antwerp printers about whose life and book production almost nothing is known. Only three books by him are recorded, printed for various publishers between 1576 and 1580. For a printer who worked independently for ten years such a total seems improbably low, and closer investigation shows that he actually produced far more. A considerable number of the many political publications of 1578 and 1579 came from his press. He seems to have had an important share in the propaganda and pamphlets distributed for the party of William of Orange. Many appeared without an imprint, but the printer also used all sorts of fictitious addresses. We may wonder how so little known a man could occupy such an important place in the production of political publications which was increasing so rapidly at the time. It is impossible to give a certain answer, but a close collaboration would seem to have developed between our printer and Willem Silvius, who had recently been appointed printer to the States of Holland and to the university of Leiden. This appointment and his removal to his new place of residence took place in the course of 1577, shortly before the propaganda campaign reached its height. In these circumstances the absence of his press would have stood in the way of any swift reaction against opponents. Silvius consequently started to work together with the young Houweel who had a well-equiped printing-shop of his own. That meant that there was a reliable base for launching publicitary actions in the very centre of the pamphlet war. The considerable number of publications which appeared in support of Orange's policy and the substantial costs implicated suggest that the Prince was directly involved in these activities and that Silvius acted as his agent. They had already known one another for many years and it has always been assumed that Silvius's appointment as printer to the States was partly the consequence of the Prince's own interest. The decision to recruit him for this type of warfare too was thus obvious.

10.1163/157006994X00090
/content/journals/10.1163/157006994x00090
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/content/journals/10.1163/157006994x00090
1994-01-01
2016-12-05

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