William IV. and V., 1748-1787 Batavian Republic, 1795-1806

The Patriots, 1787

In 1781 the pamphlet Aan het Volk van Nederland (to the People of the Netherlands) was published anonymously (by Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Poll), containing what was to become the political program of a group of reformers called the Patriots. In 1785, representatives of Exercising Companies (patriot militias formed after the model of earlier Riflemen's Guilds, the first such Exercising Companies established in 1783) met in Utrecht; at the congress, demands for a new constitution were made. In 1786 the Patriots took over the administration of Utrecht; a number of cities with Patriot administrations were occupied by the (Orangist) army. In May 1787, the Free Corps defeated troops of the stadholder; Patriots took over the administration of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Utrecht was declared the capital of the Dutch Republic; 's Gravenhage and 's Hertogenbosch were renamed to Den Haag (the Hague) and Den Bosch to eliminate reminiscence to the feudal society regarded overcome by the Patriot revolutionaries. The name United Provinces was replaced by Nederland (Netherland; note the singular, as opposed to the term still customary in the English language, containing the plural -s). The Patriots regarded federalism as one of the obstacles to progress and were in favour of the establishment of a centralized state.
However, 20.000 Prussian troops under the command of the Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel invaded on Sept. 13th. The invaders met with little resistance and occupied Amsterdam on Oct. 10th, ending the Patriot Revolution.

In 1788, Britain and Prussia signed a treaty, guaranteeing the (unwritten) Dutch constitution. Dutch officials in the communities were required to swear an oath to the (old) constitution. Many Patriots fled to Paris.

The Patriot revolution was an incomplete revolution, aborted before it had the opportunity to mature. It is historically significant, because it was the first in a series of revolutions in late 18th century Europe. The Prussian intervention had, temporarily, terminated a movement toward reform. However, the economic situation was intolerable; de Vries/van der Woude estimate the tax burden an unskilled worker had to bear in the Province of Holland, for around 1790, at 53 % of his income (p.97). The situation had to be addressed, and drastic reforms were merely a matter of time. Patriot exiles in Paris formed the Batavian Legion, to return, with the help of French troops, in 1795.

Article Patriotten, Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Poll, Aan het Volk van Nederland from Wikipedia Dutch edition
De aanhouding van Wilhelmina van Pruisen door de Commissie van Defensie te Woerden in 1787 (The stoppage of Wilhelmina of Prussia by the Defense Commission at Woerden, 1787), by A. Meddens-van Borsselen, in Dutch, extensive
Biography of Johan Derk van der Capellen tot den Poll, from De Geschiedenis van Overijssel, in Dutch
REFERENCE Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators : Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780-1813, reprint 1992
H.P.H. Jansen, Kalendarium. Geschiedenis van de Lage Landen in Jaartallen. (Calendarium. History of the Low Countries by Years), Utrecht 1979; in Dutch [G]
Mark T. Hooker, The History of Holland, Westport : Greenwood, 1999, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.2 H783h
Encyclopaedia Britannica, article the Netherlands, 15th edition, Vol.24 (Macropaedia) pp.864-897, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862h v.24
Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic, It's Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477-1806, Oxford : Clarendon 1998; KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.2 I85t
Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge : UP 1997, KMLA Lib.Sign. 330.9492 V982f
J. Roegiers and N.C.E. van Sas, Revolution in the North and in the South, 1780-1830, pp.269-312 in : J.C.H. Blom and E. Lamberts, History of the Low Countries, N.Y.: Berghahn 1999, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.3 B653h
Arend H. Huussen, Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands, London : Scarecrow 1998, 237 pp.; KMLA Lib.Sign. R 949.2 H985h
This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on May 13th 2006

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