The Peace of Münster (1648) ended the Eighty Years’ War (1568–1648) in the Low Countries. After decades of conflict, peace came to the Dutch, who for three generations had only experienced wartime. Since the lives of commoners and soldiers alike had become dependent upon and conditioned to the war, the successful peace negotiation heralded a new and uncertain future. Music played an important role in facilitating understanding of the cultural changes brought about by the peace treaty. Drawing on a representative sample of broadsheets and songs from 1609 to 1648, this article sheds light on how the Dutch dealt with their realities during the Eighty Years’ War, the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609–21), and the immediate aftermath of war. Broadsheets announced the peace and worked through divisions among the Dutch; plays staged drinking songs that alluded to controversies; Dutch chambers of rhetoric debated the peace in their publications; and geuzenliederen (beggars’ songs sung to popular tunes) memorialized soldiers’ daily lives during and after the war. Christian songs further thematized the “true” meaning of the newly negotiated peace and provided instructions on how to act peacefully. Popular songs offer a different take on the Peace of Münster than do the official peace celebrations, which have been the focus of previous scholarship. The songs discussed here functioned as an emotional outlet for commoners and soldiers. They thematized the different opinions pertaining to the peace negotiations, encouraged merry-making, and explained or helped process the reality of the battleground and the subsequent postwar experience.

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