Abstract: The Thirty Years’ War, while still regarded as primarily a European war, also has, as some historians recognize, an Atlantic dimension. That Atlantic dimension in turn is widely recognized as centering on the Dutch Republic’s seizure of Bahia and then Pernambuco in Brazil, and on the other side of the Atlantic, the island colony of São Tomé, the Portuguese fort at Elmina, and the biggest African prize, the colony of Angola, a project that Dutch historians have labeled the “Groot Dessyn” (Great Design). What is more generally overlooked is that on the African side, the Kingdom of Kongo, hostile and independent northern neighbor of Portuguese Angola, played a crucial role in shaping the Dutch strategies on the African side of the Atlantic. It was Kongo’s initiative, as I will demonstrate, that caused the Dutch to conceive of having an African colony at all, and it was Kongo diplomacy that led the Dutch to attack Angola, first in 1624 and then, successfully in 1641. Recognizing this African initiative helps us to understand the multilateral and even multicontinental nature of the Thirty Years’ War.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 3, 2016
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