Dealing with Defeat: Dutch Brazil (1624) and English Jamaica (1655) in Newspapers from the Habsburg Netherlands


  • Tiffany Bousard



newspapers, Habsburg Netherlands, Abraham Verhoeven (1575-1652), Pierre Hugonet (?-1667), Dutch Brazil, English Jamaica


Covering defeat or disaster in print required considerable journalistic finesse in the Southern Netherlandish news market, since the primary role of privileged courantiers in the Habsburg empire was to provide accounts of royal successes. This article investigates the ways in which the Antwerp printer-publisher Abraham Verhoeven and Brussels newsman Pierre Hugonet covered two main Atlantic events with a negative outcome for the Habsburg monarchy: the Dutch invasion of Brazil in 1624 and the English capture of Jamaica in 1655 respectively. By comparing these major Atlantic news stories, this article will deepen our understanding of how these gazetteers, who differed in professional background and operated decades apart, dealt with defeat suffered in the Western Hemisphere. It will argue that both newspapermen presented the Habsburg setbacks in a strikingly similar way, using largely the same editorial and rhetorical strategies. This suggests that there appeared to be a ‘discourse of defeat’ in the Habsburg Netherlands, which newspaper publishers adapted to satisfy both their customers and central authorities throughout the seventeenth century. This ‘discourse of defeat’, however, was not confined solely to the southern provinces, as Dutch and English courantiers employed similar tactics to cover up bad news. Therefore, government control and pre-emptive censorship, which continue to be considered dominant features of the Southern Netherlandish media landscape, appear to have played a less decisive role in the way newspaper publishers covered defeat than hitherto has been presumed.


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How to Cite

Bousard, T. (2018). Dealing with Defeat: Dutch Brazil (1624) and English Jamaica (1655) in Newspapers from the Habsburg Netherlands. Early Modern Low Countries, 2(1), 24–44.