Simon Schama: What History Teaches Us About Pandemics

Forum on European Culture

Programme editor
Programme editor
Three years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the world and left a deep imprint on society. But the wave of panic, competitive vaccine research, economic impact, and distrust in medical science have already occurred. In his new book Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations (2023) the internationally renowned historian Simon Schama shows how the world has survived similar pandemics before.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’ smallpox struck London, cholera hit Paris and pestilence came to India. What can history teach us about good leadership in times of pandemic and viruses? How should we look back on the way we dealt with COVID-19? And how can societies prepare themselves for new viruses to come?

About Simon Schama

Simon Schama is one of the most famous historians worldwide, a renowned expert on European history, ecology and art history. He published numerous awarded history books such as Landscape and Memory (1995), Rembrandt’s Eyes (1999) and A History of Britain (2000). He also created famous television series such as The Power of Art, The Story of the Jews and most recently The History of Now (2022). With over 40 documentaries on his name, he keeps informing his audience about Europe’s vast history.

Forum on European Culture 2023

From 31 May until June 4, the 4th edition of the Forum on European Culture takes place. Artists, activists and intellectuals from all over the world come together to explore the meaning and future of democracy in Europe. For the full programme, see


Simon SchamaHistorian | Photo: Peter Strelitski, Hollandse Hoogte
In gezonde staat (Foreign Bodies), Atlas Contact 2023