Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Chair of Early Modern European History

Tatjana von Schoenaich-Carolath, M.A.

Tatjana Schoenaich-Carolath M.A.
Doctoral candidate
tatjana.schoenaich (at)


The ‘Memoriael’ of the First Dutch Ambassador to the Sublime Porte, Cornelis Haga (1612-1639), and his Role in European Politics on the Eve of the Thirty Years’ War

The dispatch of the first Dutch ambassador to the Sublime Porte, Cornelis Haga, coincided with the political upheavals following the deaths of the French King Henry IV, the Swedish King Charles IX, and the German Emperor Rudolf II. The rapid succession of these events caused considerable upheaval. It forced a reorganization of the European balance of power and thus also necessitated a renewed exploration of relations with the major non-European powers such as the Ottoman Empire. Against this background, Haga’s embassy was perceived from the outset as a polarising political issue in all European centres of government which could influence the newly emerging constellation on the continent in many ways. Even seemingly impartial European states therefore felt compelled to take a definitive position vis-à-vis the establishment of a Dutch embassy in Constantinople in accordance with their respective interests. As a result, Haga’s mission therefore encountered enormous resistance from the outset and mobilized numerous opponents who sought to prevent the consolidation of bilateral relations between the Ottoman Empire and this youngest European state.

One of the most revealing sources about the international reactions to the establishment of the Dutch embassy in Constantinople is Haga’s ‘Memoriael’, which is preserved in the Nationaal Archief Den Haag and has so far only been published in extracts, some of which have survived in doubtful form. This memorandum is at the centre of the dissertation project. On the one hand, a comparison of Haga's ‘Memoriael’ with his largely unpublished private as well as official correspondence, with the dispatches of other European ambassadors in Constantinople and with contemporary Ottoman historiography will provide a comprehensive picture of Haga’s diplomatic activities. On the other, it is important to trace the transnational interest groups who acted as Haga’s opponents or supporters and what political and/or religious interests motivated their opposition. Embedding Haga’s mission in the pan-European context in this way will ultimately shed new light on the interplay between European diplomacy in Constantinople and the controversies on the continent that led Europe into its first general conflict in 1618.