The humorous side of Dutch culture of the 17th century is obscured by a change that took place around 1670. Religious treatises and books of manners warning against laughter contributed to a new image, that of the humourless, Calvinist Dutch. Mainly based on a manuscript with some 2000 jokes, the lost laughter of the "Golden Age" is reconstructed and analyzed. Most jokes are crude and obscene, and they throw new light on attitudes towards sexuality, religion and other aspects of life.
RUDOLF DEKKER is Reader in the Department of History and Art at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. His publications include Holland in Beroering and, with Lotte van de Pol, The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe.