De Achttiende Eeuw 37 (2005) nr.2
'Magic, violence and trans-national cont(r)acts. The socio-economic, political and cultural world of the French-Flemish smuggler Colingris (1727-1759)'
This article studies the life of Colingris, a French shoemaker, deserter, and gang leader, who
smuggled tobacco and wool between France and the Southern Netherlands in the 1750s. He
pretended to be invulnerable, and claimed to be able to make his men as invulnerable as
himself by magical rituals. This article tries to reconstruct his life, and argues that, considered
in their own historical, regional and economic context, his acts were not that strange
or irrational. His rhetoric and behaviour consisted of complex cultural appropriations
loosely based on a popular magical book, and on several magical and religious practices.
They were part of a strategy of intimidation, intended to reduce the risks of smuggling.
However, as his actions took place in a key-period in which a regional and transnational logic
gradually lost ground to the ‘national’ aims of the centralizing state, Colingris’s life ended
on the gallows in 1759.
'The Brussels music scene, 1740-1780. A socio-historical exploration'
The eighteenth-century musical revival in the Austrian Netherlands largely coincided with
the governorship of Charles of Lorraine (1741-1780). On the musical landscape had the governor-
general and his court a decisive impact. As the princely representative of the monarch,
Charles had the enjoyment of a proper court chapel. The Grand Théâtre, though privately
owned and managed, stood in a close relation to the court and was the integral part of a representational
culture. At the same time, however, Charles found himself in a position of political
marginalisation. Therefore music meant in the first place distraction and amusement
for him and the same applied to a number of aristocrats belonging to his intimate circle.
Although music primarily stayed a matter of the court and aristocracy, the question arises
whether the period nevertheless reveals signs of an emerging bourgeois culture in which
music acquired a more public and commercial status. At first sight this evolution is evidenced
by the sheer name of the most active Brussels concert society, which was called the
Concert Bourgeois. Yet it appears that the Concert Bourgeois as well had a privileged relation with
the governor-general. Besides, the concerts were both frequented and supported by prominent
aristocrats. Because of its close affiliation with the courtly-aristocratic establishment
the Concert Bourgeois could have no direct commercial aspirations. Altogether, commercial
dynamics can hardly be discerned in the Brussels music life of those days. Scores and musical
instruments remained expensive and became only in the nineteenth century affordable
for broader segments of the urban population. It was rather on the mental than on the material
level that things were changing. While music in the past had mainly served representational
and religious goals, it could now be approached and appreciated as a ‘commodity’
for the satisfaction of an individual (aesthetic) need. In this universe of commodities it was
Paris that set the tone. The occupation of Brussels by the troops of Louis XV in 1746-1749
gave a strong impetus to the frenchification of the town. In that process the Grand Théâtre,
where the famous French playwright Charles-Simon Favart had introduced the new genre
of the opéra-comique, made a substantial contribution.
The musical revival under Charles of Lorraine must be considered an Indian summer in
which the old privileged groups were the protagonists. It does therefore not fit well into a
linear, teleological and bourgeois-oriented scheme of history.
Bram van Oostveldt
'Arcadia between Memory and Utopia. J.J. Rousseau, Mimi in ’t hof and the Yearning for Naturalness'
In the eighteenth-century opéra-comique Mimi in ’t hof [Mimi at Court] (a 1756 translation of
Charles Simon Favart’s Ninette à la cour from 1755), the theatricality of court and society is severely
criticised and expressed in what could be called ‘a yearning for naturalness’. This
yearning manifests itself in almost every discourse from the mid-eighteenth century: from
science to politics, economy, law or the arts, the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘naturalness’ are
omnipresent. Within the abyss of possible meanings and uses of the terms, ‘nature’ and
‘naturalness’ find their most urgent expressions in the passionate desire to reform a society
that to its inhabitants seems to be in confusion and decline. As a contemporary cultural critique,
the yearning for naturalness re-actualizes the old topos of Arcadia by promoting the
original ‘natural’ state of man as a desirable model for future societies. By confronting the
ideology of Mimi in ‘t hof with some texts by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the Discours sur l’origine et
les fondemens de l’inégalité parmi les homes [Treatise on the origin and the foundations of the inequality among
men], 1754 and the Essai sur l’origine des langues [Essay on the origin of languages], ca 1760), the contribution
demonstrates that this future model of society is based on a paradox in which neither
history nor future can exist.
'La vie musicale des Pays-Bas autrichiens et de la principauté de Liège. Un guide bibliographique'
La vie musicale des Pays-Bas autrichiens et de la principauté de Liège intéresse les musicologues
depuis le dix-neuvième siècle. Après l’évocation des travaux les plus importants et
des outils bibliographiques, les institutions et les compositeurs les plus importants font
l’objet d’un bref commentaire qui vise à suggérer de nouvelles pistes d’investigation, qu’il
serait profitable d’explorer dans une approche pluridisciplinaire réunissant les musicologues,
les musiciens et les historiens.
'The role of the city in the musical life of the eighteenth-century Dutch Republic'
Although musical life in the eighteenth-century Dutch Republic cannot, perhaps, be compared
to that of Italy, France, England, or the German-speaking countries, it was nevertheless
lively and multi-faceted, largely concentrated in the cities. Its origins can be traced back
to the early years of the Dutch Republic, the first half of the seventeenth century, when the
cities employed organists, carillon players, town waits, and trumpeters. The eighteenth
century saw the rise of a public musical life, with its main focus on the concert hall and the
opera theatre. In addition, free lance musicians played an important part. This contribution
briefly discusses these aspects of Dutch musical life in the eighteenth century.