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Title: The material culture of drinking and the construction of social identities in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic
Author: Finn, Claire P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 5651
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2014
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After gaining their independence, the seventeenth-century Northern Netherlands experienced a Golden Age of wealth and prosperity. However, there was not yet a sense of national unity, and changes in society, politics, wealth and world view all created flux in identity. Drinking was both a fundamental and yet also highly charged activity, taking place in the home, taverns, and at events such as weddings. Playing a vital role in hospitality and community bonding, drinking became an important activity in the communication of developing identities, affiliations and Dutch national feeling. This thesis examines material culture gathered from domestic cesspits dating between 1500 and 1800 from across the Dutch Republic, to determine which aspects of identity may have been communicated through drinking vessels. Archaeological assemblages of vessels were used to create status profiles, a method of comparing artefact groups to identify the status of the household. The quantities of high quality glassware proved to be the most diagnostic feature of status until the eighteenth century when ceramics became more highly sought. Different types of sites, like hospitals and taverns, also presented a distinct profile of material. Regional differences in drinking practice, however, were not found to be distinct, with wealth, status and era having more effect. Vessels and drinks were tied up in a system of conspicuous consumption, status and display, which could be both desirable and dangerous. Vessels and drinking were used to create ceremonies of hospitality and inclusion, or to promote regional pride, or make politico-religious criticism. Vessels were personalised for gift giving, or to display status and belonging through heraldry, names or symbology. Vessels, including glass, earthenware and porcelain, also held a didactic function, warning of the dangers of excess and luxury, and promoting moral decency and domestic harmony, particularly for women. These behaviours, combined with the use of Dutch imagery, helped to confirm a new sense of national unity.
Supervisor: Willmott, Hugh Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available