The early modern republics of Venice and of the Netherlands were not democracies, and did not aspire to be. Its inhabitants moreover would have been astounded at the civic rights accorded to the citizens of Italy and the Netherlands today, not least at the rights of women, to name but the most obvious example. It is easy, then, to label their politics and their polities as exclusive. Nevertheless, the early modern Dutch and Venetians – in their own respective ways – thought a lot about how power should not degenerate into either tyranny or into what we might call “populist” politics. Only be avoiding these evils could republics have a future, they believed. In a day when we are increasing uncertain about the vitality of our own democracies, it would do no harm to look at some lessons from these old republics.
About the Eventalks
The theme of the Early Music Festival 2016 (26 August to 4 September) was Venice: ‘La Serenissima’. For the second time, in close collaboration with Utrecht University’s Centre for the Humanities and the Residencies in Utrecht programme, the festival presented a secular version of evensong, named Eventalk.
The spoken element of Eventalk was entrusted to thinkers and artists. They made short, inspiring presentations with a twist, like an intellectual haiku, with a musical interlude by Artist in residence Olga Pashchenko. In this way Eventalk combines a stimulating discourse with beautiful instrumental music by one of the most versatile performers on the keyboard.