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Exotic Allies: The Dutch-Chilean Encounter and the (Failed) Conquest of America*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Benjamin Schmidt*
University of Washington


How did the Netherlands assimilate the New World? This essay explores the process of cultural geography in the Renaissance by examining the creative appropriation of American "allies" by the Dutch Republic. On three separate occasions, embassies from the United Provinces sought to enlist natives of South America for a proposed brotherhood, or "alliance," meant to challenge the tyranny of Spain and liberate the hemisphere from Habsburg control While this hoped-for Reconquista never did transpire, Dutch efforts — rhetorical as well as real—demonstrate a highly imaginative and vigorously prosecuted response to America. They problematize the paradigm of the New Worlds "blunted" impact on the Old.

Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 1999

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For their helpful suggestions and encouragement, I would like to thank Willem Klooster, Steven Mullaney, Henk van Nierop, Anthony Pagden, Simon Schama, John Schwaller, Louise Townsend, and an anonymous reader for the Renaissance Quarterly. This essay was first presented at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Bloomington, Indiana (1996), and later to the History Research Group of the University of Washington, and I am very grateful to both of those audiences for their comments. I wish also to acknowledge the generous financial support of the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation, the Keller Fund of the University of Washington, and the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard University.


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