Based on extensive archival research and told with fluency, this book is a valuable contribution to the social history of Spanish Brabant in the early eighteenth century. Under the guise of a family drama, it highlights the tensions between Catholics and Protestants, recounting the story of a nearly 18 old girl from Helmond who ran away from her protestant home, turned catholic, and got married in the Southern Netherlands. Despite her parents’ efforts to get her back, she never returned home but died in 1708 in Thouars, France. The author, the Helmond archivalist Henk Roosenboom, shows how strong feelings of distrust between the ruling protestant elite minority and the catholic majority shaped local social life, especially when these kidnaps went hand in hand with conversion from the protestant to the catholic faith. He demonstrates that providing help to minors who had run away on their own account was considered the legal equivalent of kidnap. Backed by the States general, local authorities punished entire catholic communities for such kidnaps and forced them to assist in the return of the minors to their parents.

From the editors