Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Kees Boterbloem, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Darcie S. Fontaine, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frances L. Ramos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Cummings, Ph.D.


Groningen, Dutch Republic, Münster, egodocuments, microhistory


In January 1663 the former alderman of the Groningen tailors’ guild, Gerard Udinck, was sentenced to death for his role in orchestrating a series of riots in the city. On the day of his execution, however, Udinck received a pardon in the form of a lifelong banishment. Although initially relieved to be alive, Udinck’s experiences in exile would prove taxing in a variety of ways. He spent the next three years in northwestern Germany, first in Steinfurt and then in Neuenhaus, where he recorded his daily life in a diary. Many of these entries describe a life that was shaped by disparaging gossip, threats of violence, physical assaults, a devastating plague epidemic, the loss of powerful patrons, and financial hardships. In the autumn of 1665 a massive army of mercenaries from Münster, some 20,000 strong, began advancing on the eastern provinces of the Dutch Republic. Fearing for his life and his property, Udinck made the fateful decision to flee back to the Dutch Republic. Soon after, he was arrested by the Groningen authorities, who accused him of conspiring with the Münster army, and subsequently sentenced him to death.

The story that follows explores Udinck’s banishment, exile, and execution using a microhistorical approach. As a microhistory, this dissertation is primarily concerned with the juxtaposition between Udinck’s agency or free will and the broader constraints of seventeenth- century European society. It argues that Udinck’s arrest in 1665 was not simply the result of his possible collusion, stubbornness or naivety, but instead was informed by significant external events, such as the consolidation and monopolization of power in Groningen’s municipal government, as well as an acute sense of panic caused by the military invasion from Münster.

Recognizing that diaries, and other egodocuments, can serve as important counterweights to more formal sources, this dissertation examines Udinck’s story through the lens of his diary entries. Furthermore, these are read against a number of other contemporary sources including trial records, interrogators’ notes, pamphlets, and various accounts of the seventeenth-century Dutch historian, Lieuwe van Aitzema. As such, Udinck’s diary provides a unique glimpse into the life of a man who was under enormous social pressure and heavily critical of the political leaders attempting to profit from his downfall. Udinck criticized these men in his diary entries, in letters, and in conversations in taverns and homes. For the Groningen authorities, Udinck’s words were subversive and threatening to the social order. And with an enemy army literally outside the gates, the leaders of Groningen would not entertain the idea of a second pardon.

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