Global Calvinism

Conversion and Commerce in the Dutch Empire, 1600-1800

Charles H. Parker

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A comprehensive study of the connection between Calvinist missions and Dutch imperial expansion during the early modern period

Calvinism went global in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as close to a thousand Dutch Reformed ministers, along with hundreds of lay chaplains, attached themselves to the Dutch East India and West India companies. Across Asia, Africa, and the Americas where the trading companies set up operation, Dutch ministers sought to convert “pagans,” “Moors,” Jews, and Catholics and to spread the cultural influence of Protestant Christianity. As Dutch ministers labored under the auspices of the trading companies, the missionary project coalesced, sometimes grudgingly but often readily, with empire building and mercantile capitalism. Simultaneously, Calvinism became entangled with societies around the world as encounters with indigenous societies shaped the development of European religious and intellectual history. Though historians have traditionally treated the Protestant and European expansion as unrelated developments, the global reach of Dutch Calvinism offers a unique opportunity to understand the intermingling of a Protestant faith, commerce, and empire.

Charles H. Parker is professor of history at Saint Louis University. He is the author of Global Interactions in the Early Modern Age, 1400–1800 and Faith on the Margins: Catholics and Catholicism in the Dutch Golden Age.

“A masterly synthesis of archival and secondary sources, this is a tour de force offering the reader the best study of global Calvinism in the realms of the Dutch East India Company. Recommended for all students of early modern history.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, editor, Calvinism and Religious Toleration in the Dutch Golden Age

“In this landmark and riveting publication, Charles Parker demonstrates the importance of Calvinism in the making of the Dutch Empire. Missionaries and their encounters with indigenous societies significantly reshaped Dutch intellectual life, inspiring Enlighted ideas about religion in Europe.”—Ulinka Rublack, Cambridge University

“A splendid addition to the literature on Christian missions outside Europe during early modern times.”—Jonathan Israel, author of The Dutch Republic. Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477-1806
ISBN: 9780300236057
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
408 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
12 b/w illus.