In recent years, there has been great interest in how foreign states use the media to influence political debates. Countries such as Russia and the United States invest large sums in influencing foreign audiences via social media, in order to achieve diplomatic objectives. NL-Lab is researching the history of this form of ‘public diplomacy’. The NWO Vidi project Inventing Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe analyses the use of the printing press in Early Modern European diplomacy. What role did the media play in the foreign relations of the Dutch Republic between 1568 and 1713?


Diplomatic history has traditionally focused on elites. Inventing Public Diplomacy pays more attention to the wider public, and the way in which they were involved in diplomacy. How did diplomats in the Early Modern era use the printing press, and with what aim? How did they maintain contact with audiences abroad, and how did this contribute to their diplomatic strategies? How did the role of printed matter develop in comparison to other forms of communication? And what impact did public diplomacy have on international relations? In three sub-projects, Inventing Public Diplomacy analyses correspondence between the Netherlands and France, England and the German states. The correspondence is transcribed with the aid of automatic handwriting recognition (Transkribus), and analysed with reference to contemporary printed sources. At the end of the project, the transcriptions will be made available online.



  • Inventing Public Diplomacy in Early Modern Europe. NWO Vidi project. Main applicant: Helmer Helmers.
Related project
  • The letters of Christofforo Suriano (1616-1623). Edition project in cooperation with Digital Data Management Huygens ING.



  • Nina Lamal, Jamie Cumby and Helmer Helmers (red). Print and Power in Early Modern Europe (Brill 2021).


See also