Arthur Weststeijn

Director of historical studies, Royal Netherlands Institutearthur-weststeijn in Rome (KNIR), Italy

I was born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where I obtained degrees in history and philosophy, before setting south to continue my academic career along the shores of the Mediterranean: first in Spain, for research on Spanish sources on the Dutch Revolt, then in Florence, for a PhD-dissertation on 17th-century Dutch intellectual history at the European University Institute, and in recent years at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, where I teach Roman and Italian history.

My academic interests focus on early modern intellectual history (esp. political thought in Italy and the Netherlands), colonialism and imperialism, classical reception studies, and modern Italian culture and politics (esp. fascism).

After my PhD-research on Dutch republicanism in international context, supervised by Martin van Gelderen, I have turned to the intellectual history of the early modern Dutch empire, which resulted in a series of articles on Dutch imperial thought in a global context, esp. in Brazil and Southeast Asia. A second focus of my recent research is the political uses of the ancient past, in early modern European republics as well as in modern Italy.


Key publications


Commercial Republicanism in the Dutch Golden Age. The Political Thought of Johan & Pieter de la Court (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012), available in open-access via:

(with Frederick Whitling), Termini. Cornerstone of Modern Rome (Rome: Quasar, 2017)

Edited volumes

A Marble Revolutionary. The Dutch Patriot Joan Derk van der Capellen and his Monument (Rome: Palombi, 2011)

(with Wyger Velema), Ancient Models in the Early Modern Republican Imagination (Leiden: Brill, 2017)

Selected articles & book chapters

‘Provincializing Grotius. International Law and Empire in a Seventeenth-Century Malay Mirror’, in Marti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca (eds.), International Law and Empire: Historical Explorations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

‘Commonwealths for Preservation and Increase: Ancient Rome in Venice and the Dutch Republic’, in Wyger Velema and Arthur Weststeijn (eds.), Ancient Models in the Early Modern Republican Imagination (Leiden: Brill, 2017)

‘Imperial Republics: Roman Imagery in Italian and Dutch Town Halls, c. 1300-1700’, in Jan Nelis (ed.), Renovatio, Inventio, Absentia Imperii. From the Roman Empire to Contemporary Imperialism (Brepols: Turnhout, 2017)

‘España en el espejo holandés: republicanismo radical después de la Paz de Westfalia’, in Manuel Herrero Sánchez (ed.), Repúblicas y republicanismo en la Edad Moderna (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2017)

‘Maquiavel no Brasil holandês. Gaspar Barleus, João Maurício de Nassau e o príncipe colonial’, in Rodrigo Bentes Monteiro and Sandra Bagno (eds.), Maquiavel no Brasil. Dos descobrimentos ao século XXI (Rio de Janeiro: Editora FGV, 2015), 133-155

‘”Love Alone Is Not Enough”: Treaties in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Colonial Expansion’, in Saliha Belmessous (ed.), Empire by Treaty. Negotiating European Expansion, 1600-1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 19-44

‘Dutch Brazil and the Making of Free Trade Ideology’, in Michiel van Groesen (ed.), The Legacy of Dutch Brazil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 197-204

‘The VOC as a Company-State: Debating Seventeenth-Century Dutch Colonial Expansion’, Itinerario. International Journal on the History of European Expansion 38, 1 (2014), 13-34

(with Jan Hartman) ‘An Empire of Trade: Commercial Reason of State in Seventeenth-Century Holland’, in Sophus Reinert and Pernille Røge (eds.), The Political Economy of Empire in the Early Modern World (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 11-31

‘Why the Dutch Didn’t Read Harrington: Anglo-Dutch Republican Exchanges, c. 1650–1670’, in Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann (eds.), European Contexts for English Republicanism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), 105-120

‘Republican Empire. Colonialism, Commerce, and Corruption in the Dutch Golden Age’, Renaissance Studies 26, 4 (2012), 491-509

‘The Power of “Pliant Stuff”: Fables and Frankness in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republicanism’, Journal of the History of Ideas 72, 1 (2011), 1-27

‘From the Passion of Self-Love to the Virtue of Self-Interest. The Republican Morals of the Brothers De la Court’, European Review of History 17, 1 (2010), 75-92

‘Mercury’s Two Faces. Commercial Candour as the Key to Capability in the Dutch Golden Age’, in Jan Hartman et al. (eds.), Public Offices, Private Demands. Early Modern Views on Capability in Governance (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2009), 150-173

‘Antonio Pérez y la formación de la política española respecto a la rebelión de los Países Bajos, 1576-1579’, Historia y Política 19, 1 (2008), 231-254


The Thinker by Rodin