'Born to the common welfare': Pieter Plockhoy's quest for a Christian life (c.1620-1664)
Title: 'Born to the common welfare': Pieter Plockhoy's quest for a Christian life (c.1620-1664)
Author: LOOIJESTEIJN, Henk
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2009
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Over the past two centuries, the study of history has expanded its field of enquiry so that men and women, barely considered of importance in their own day, may now hold scholarly attention far more than their contemporaries might ever have thought - let alone thought them worthy of it. Partly this a consequences of coincidence, chance preservation of records pertaining to a ‘common’ man or woman; partly it is a consequence of the caprice of historians, who may have their own reasons for rearranging the historical stage. Nowadays historians are more prone to do so, and the likes of Menocchio and Martin Guerre may be now known more widely than they ever were in their lifetime - the latter even making the rare jump from the historian’s domain of books to the public’s Hollywood film screen. The protagonist of this thesis, the Dutch seventeenth-century ‘minor thinker’ Pieter Plockhoy is - at least at face value - such a minor historical actor whose posthumous fame, limited as it is, nevertheless may well be greater than he ever enjoyed in his own day. Plockhoy was of modest social status and played a comparatively modest public role during the later 1650s and the early 1660s, but, though he was scarcely present on the contemporary historical stage, after his rediscovery at the end of the nineteenth century - incidentally at the same time as Gerrard Winstanley, who has far eclipsed Plockhoy’s modest fame - modern scholars have singled him out as an outstanding historical persona, indeed, as some have put it, as the ‘Father of Socialism’.1 Nowadays he is connected more often to Spinoza and Dutch radical thought, and continues to be mentioned in scholarly - and occasionally not so scholarly - publications. Though he has not yet been visualized on film screens - unlike Guerre or Winstanley - he has been the hero of an American radio-play in the 1950s. Nevertheless, even within the scholarly community Plockhoy’s name has remained something vaguely heard of, at best. Usually the response to mentioning his name is: ‘Who was Plockhoy?’. This elementary question will be addressed first, after which an overview of the Plockhoy historiography will lead to the questions which this thesis aims to answer.
LC Subject Heading: Plockhoy, Pieter Corneliszoon, fl. 1659; Netherlands -- History -- 1648-1795; Netherlands -- Religion -- 17th century; Religious thought -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century; Social reformers -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century; Mennonites; Utopian socialism -- Netherlands -- History -- 17th century
Defense Date: 25/11/2009; Examining Board: Martin van Gelderen (EUI) (Supervisor) Jan Lucassen (IISH) Arfon Rees (EUI/University of Birmingham) Jonathan Scott (University of Auckland)
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