Seminar: International Agents, 4 April 2019

Please join us for our third seminar of the semester, featuring two twenty-minute presentations and discussion. All welcome!

International Agents

Thursday 4th April 2019, 5-6.30pm

Christie Room, John Rylands Library, Deansgate


The Reception of Milton’s First Defence in Dutch Correspondence

Dr Esther van Raamsdonk (School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London)

In 1649, Claudius Salmasius (1588-1653) published anonymously his Defensio Regia pro Carola I. Ad Serenissimum Magnae Britanniae Regem Carolum II. filium natu majorum, Heredem & Successorem legitimum. It was printed in the Dutch Republic, possibly by Elzevier. Milton became involved in the regicide debate by invitation of the Council of State and was instructed on the 8th of January 1650 to write a response to Salmasius’ tract, culminating in the publication of Joannis Miltonii Angli pro Populo Anglicano Defensio contra Claudii Anonymi, alias Salmasii, Defensionem Regiam (1651) (hereafter called First Defence), printed in London, to considerably controversy. Milton’s First Defence was more widely circulated, with more editions, than any other of his works during his lifetime. It ignited a vigorous debate in the European scholarly community, carried out through transnational networks of intellectuals and polemicists. This paper follows the correspondence of two prominent Dutch humanists, Isaac Vossius (1618-1689) and Nicolaas Heinsius (1620-1681), using their personal reception of Milton’s tract to reflect on his reputation in Europe and the nature of the regicide debate.


Discovering Heinrich Simon (1805-60)

Dr Eva-Maria Broomer and Professor Stephen Parker (German Studies, Manchester)

The paper introduces the core primary sources for the Leverhulme research project ‘Double Agent: Heinrich Simon’s Constitutional Mission in Neo-absolutist Prussia’, the Jewish-German Simon’s papers and letters in the John Rylands Library. The presentation begins by explaining the papers’ provenance, their importance in relation to Simon’s activity in Prussia/Germany as a lawyer/civil servant, author and politician, and the intended outcomes of the project. Following an outline of the sources and their treatment as historical and cultural documents, the paper will discuss principal challenges (e.g. dating, selecting and transcribing, analysing and editing) and opportunities (e.g. restoring and digitising) as they are prepared for publication. The Simon papers will then be situated in relation to other key sources, including his own published writings, the Gedenkbuch [Memorial Book] of 1865, and further archival materials in Birmingham, Wroclaw, Berlin and Bern. Finally, the paper will adumbrate the historical and cultural significance of the project, particularly the fresh understanding of the life, with its core contradictions, of this leader of the German 1848 revolution, within the context of Prussian society during the first half of the 19th century.


For more information, please contact Dr Alice Marples at alice.marples[at]

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