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7 - The Twin Faces of Calamity

Lessons of Decline and Disaster

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 January 2022

Adam Sundberg
Affiliation:
Creighton University, Omaha
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Summary

This chapter steps back to examine the changing perception of Dutch decline across the first half of the eighteenth century. Anxieties about Dutch decline did not emerge fully formed in 1672, nor any other date; rather, they developed over time. This chapter argues that natural disasters reveal the expanding influence of proto-national decline narratives, highlight the increasing influence of economic perspectives on decline, and uncover a distinctive rural decline paradigm. The chapter also considers what this era of decline can teach us about disasters more broadly. Disasters were events and processes that manifested at the intersection of natural and cultural change. They produced differential consequences for Dutch society across scale, just as they do today. These conditions influenced Dutch perception of disaster and affected their response. The Golden Age past was key to learning from these disasters – whether as a model to emulate or a baseline to measure progress. Dutch “decline” and the natural disasters that punctuated it served as social and cultural tools that resolved in the long term. Eighteenth-century environmental histories of disaster offer insights about the role of culture and perception, progress, and agency in an era of increasing risk.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Twin Faces of Calamity
  • Adam Sundberg, Creighton University, Omaha
  • Book: Natural Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age
  • Online publication: 13 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108923750.008
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  • The Twin Faces of Calamity
  • Adam Sundberg, Creighton University, Omaha
  • Book: Natural Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age
  • Online publication: 13 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108923750.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Twin Faces of Calamity
  • Adam Sundberg, Creighton University, Omaha
  • Book: Natural Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age
  • Online publication: 13 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108923750.008
Available formats
×