Kees Boterbloem, "Russia and the Dutch Republic, 1566–1725: A Forgotten Friendship" (Lexington Books, 2021)

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Once upon a time, it was said that Russia was isolated and ignorant until Peter the Great opened Russia to the West and ushered in modernization. While Tsar Peter I surely did look to the West in his quest to modernize Russia, these processes were underway well before Peter ever launched his first sailboat. Thousands of Europeans who lived in Moscow under the first Romanovs contributed in myriad ways to these modernizing processes. A significant portion of them were from the Netherlands, the small republic at Europe’s edge that threw off its Spanish overloads, mastered its marshy littoral, and went to become the economic powerhouse of seventeenth-century Europe. Building from the unfinished work of the late Jordan Kurland, Kees Boterbloem’s Russia and the Dutch Republic, 1566–1725: A Forgotten Friendship (Lexington Books, 2021) guides us through one of Russia’s most important early modern relationships. This brisque and engaging read introduces us to the diplomats, merchants, mercenaries, and shipwrights, who mediated all manner of exchanges between Russia and the Netherlands, offering a fresh perspective on how this important relationship changed before and during the reign of Peter I.

Erika Monahan is an editor of the journal Kritika: Explorations in Russia and Eurasian Studies and associate professor of History at the University of New Mexico. In 2023-2024 she is an Alexander von Humboldt fellow with the University of Cologne.

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