Dr Marianne Klerk

  • Early modern European warfare and the development of the European state system
  • The business of war and its culture of prestige
  • Ideas of sovereignty, reason of state and the European state system

I am interested in how the growing scale of the early modern European conflict shaped society, ranging from its socio-economic underpinnings to contemporary ideas of the European state system. For my doctorate, I examined the highly popular —yet rather neglected by scholars—, 17th-century language of state interests in Europe; not as abstract and coherent theories about modernization and a secularized conception of politics, but as strongly polemical responses to very practical and immediate problems brought forth by increasing warfare. My research also showed its remarkably flexible conceptual materials and international context; how authors across northwest Europe used the exact method and type of ‘interest’-argument made by Henri Duc de Rohan in the 1630s, but appropriated it to their own specific, war-related crises. I particularly focused on Dutch writings after 1650, which, intertwined with English debates, complemented it with explicit criticism of princely military power and reconsiderations of political order.

My current research project seeks to take a new approach to the development of the European state system. I examine the reliance of (nascent) early modern states on external partnerships for resource mobilisation by focusing on seventeenth-century Amsterdam as a vital hub within an emerging ‘Fiscal-Military System’ in Europe. I am especially interested in the international networks of the Amsterdam-elite of merchant-financiers and how they managed to meet large scale demand from different states and individual military contractors. Additionally, I hope to draw attention to the culture of prestige and status in which military entrepreneurs operated by assessing to what extent costs were socially constructed rather than financially.


  • ‘The “fiscal-military hub” of Amsterdam: Intermediating the French war subsidies to Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War’, in: Erik Thomson and Svante Norrhem (eds.), Economics of Allegiance: Subsidies, Diplomacy and State Formation in Europe, 1494-1789 [forthcoming].
  • Klerk, M.B., “The unheard Changes in Europe, and the strange Revolutions which happened in our United Provinces in our times”:  reason of state and rule of law in Petrus Valkenier’s ‘t Verwerd Europa (1675)’, in Robert von Friedeburg and Matthias Schmoeckel (eds.), Recht, Konfession und Verfassung im 17. Jahrhundert. West- und mitteleuropäische Entwicklungen (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2015), 285-335.

I currently teach:

Prelims: FHS:

 European History, 1500-1700 – Themes and Issues



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