Laurien Hansma Rijksuniversiteit Groningen Orangism in the Netherlands ca. 1780-1813



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Laurien Hansma

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Orangism in the Netherlands ca. 1780-1813
My research concerns the political convictions of orangists in the Netherlands during the years 1780 to 1813. Although orangism was already ubiquitous in the Republic before 1780, it had to invent itself again during the so called patriot era, which according to most historians started around 1780. Unquestionably, the political program of the patriots was revolutionary. The emphasis on sovereignty of the people and active participation of the people in the political process was something completely new. This does however not imply that orangism – the political opponent of patriotism – was by definition conservative and rigid. Although orangism was not a systematic political ideology like patriotism, and some orangist convictions acceded those of the patriots, almost every patriot political pamphlet was refuted by an orangist reaction.1

Although the publication of orangist pamphlets, magazines, caricatures and so forth did not end after the patriot era, historiography does not provide much information about orangism in those years. For example, despite the fact that recently the years of the Batavian Republic has been researched thoroughly, little attention has been given to the orangist reaction.2 Furthermore, the emphasis on the disappearance of political tensions in the Republic after 1800, resulted in a decreasing attention for orangism. N.C.F. van Sas states that, due to the processing and so called ‘nationalization’ of the revolution, the political tension between revolutionaries and orangists faded away around 1800. According to him, conservatism, which in surrounding countries occurred around 1800, disappeared after the first constitution or Staatregeling was proclaimed in 1798 and the unitary state was realized.3 As a consequence, Van Sas argues, the sovereignty of William I in 1813 was easily accepted by a large part of the society; even former patriots considered the comeback of Orange as legitimate.4 Therefore, the kingdom of William I was not a return to the political situation before 1795, but was the ‘creative processing of old and new components’.5 Mart Rutjes also observes that in 1801 ‘something changed’ in Batavian politics: citizens were no longer as interested in politics as before and because of the nationalization of the revolution, orangists could again be a part of politics.6 The vision of Joris van Eijnatten corresponds as well with Van Sas’ interpretation. Around 1800, Van Eijnatten argues, there was indeed a national feeling which covered the different political interests and ‘gave former stadholders a place in national memory’.7

Although many historians follow the interpretation of Van Sas, W.R.E. Velema dares to refute Van Sas’ thesis. Velema states that the political debate between revolutionaries and orangists at least continued until the installation of Louis Bonaparte as a king in 1806.8

My research explores the extent to which orangism was present in these years and investigates the political convictions of the adherents of the House of Orange-Nassau. The main question is: what were the political convictions of orangists in the period 1780-1813 and to what extent were these subject to the changing political culture in the Netherlands? In this, a distinction is made between the different layers of orangism: the orangism of ‘the people’, the political theorists and finally, the network of family and confidants of the family of Orange-Nassau.

To answer the main question, contemporary orangist pamphlets will be used mainly. To a lesser extent, periodicals, papers, poems and correspondences will be used. It is not my intention to use every bit of source material there is. Due to the amount of material that is simply not possible. Therefore, I select a couple of works per period. This selection contains elaborate political pamphlets mainly, which had been referred to in other pamphlets. To get a more complete insight in orangism in these years, I will also read anonymous pamphlets and pay attention to the orangism of ‘the people’, which was most present during orangist events and celebrations and in poems and songs. Finally, some attention will be given to orangist preachers, who reached a broad public with their theological pamphlets on the one hand and their lyrical poems on the other.
In the following essay, one of the most discussed concepts among revolutionaries and orangists will be subject of exploration: the concept of constitution. Thinking about the constitution of the Republic was one of the main issues in orangist pamphlets. The new concept of constitution of the patriots and the proclamation of the Staatsregeling in 1798 was linked to almost every other political subject one can think of, as for example the stadholderate, freedom, equality and representation. Thinking about a changing concept of constitution made orangists rethink their political convictions. By giving attention to the orangist concept of constitution, I want to give an insight in the interpretation of and debates about one of the most discussed subjects in these years.

The orangist conception of constitution
March 30, 1814, a new constitution came into effect in the Netherlands. A constitution that was drafted more or less by order of William Frederik, son of the stadholder who had fled from the Netherlands in 1795 after the French intervention and the creation of the Batavian Republic. Shortly after his arrival, William Frederik announced that he would not accept the sovereignty without the guarantee of a constitution.9 Point of departure for the drafting of this constitution was a plan of the politician Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp (1762-1834), in which the political developments of the prerevolutionary Republic, the Batavian Republic and the Kingdom of Holland under Louis Bonaparte were reflected.10

Given that in 1797 his father was averse to the idea of a written constitution, William Frederik’s attitude could be considered as remarkable.11 Not only his father, but also the adherents of the House of Orange-Nassau had wished to retain the traditional meaning of the concept of constitution. The concept was subject of discussion during the patriot era, but orangists did not have a very definite interpretation of the concept. They characterized both the Union of Utrecht (1579) and the state, with all its rules and conventions from the past, as the constitution of the Republic. However, the request for a written constitution by William Frederik in 1814, makes clear that something had changed in the orangist interpretation of this concept.

This paper deals with this remarkable shift. To further examine the foundations of this shift, I will focus on the years in which the constitutional debate was most vehement: 1795-1798. These years showed an intense debate about the realization of a constitution, which eventually resulted in the Staatsregeling of 1798. The framing of the Staatsregeling, with its preceding Rights of Men and Citizen, was a Batavian achievement that had no precedent in the history of the Netherlands. Therefore, the attention this has received recently, is completely legitimate.12 Unsurprisingly, these studies emphasize the break with the old Republic and its orangist government. However, I will argue that not even the most conservative orangists were totally abhorrent of the new political ideas of the Batavians.13

I will compare the orangist concept of constitution in this period with the counterrevolutionary years before 1795. During these years the comeback of the House of Orange-Nassau enabled its adherents to sharpen their political convictions, which were contested by the patriots in previous years. In this paper I will argue that the revolutionary events of January 1795 were as much a turn for the orangists as for the Batavians. Some orangists became more pragmatic in their argumentation and opened up their minds for new Batavian ideas.

The first subsection concerns the counterrevolutionary years between 1787 and 1794. It focuses on the struggle between patriots and orangists and the consequences this had for the meaning and legitimacy of the orangist conception of constitution during these years. The second subsection concerns the first three years of the Batavian Republic. In these years the Batavians further developed the patriot ideas and brought them into reality. Although the orangist reactions were various, fact is that the foundation of a new republic forced orangists to take a position concerning the new political direction and the Staatsregeling. This subsection makes clear that the Batavian revolution caused a shift in the orangist conception of constitution.



    1. Patriot renewal

In those cities and provinces where patriots took the power in the years 1783 to 1787, orangists had found themselves in a precarious situation. Especially in the provinces of Holland, Utrecht and Overijssel they were given a hard time. Patriots published various new political ideas in pamphlets, they advocated the curtailment of the power of the stadholder and the regents, and even more important, they pleaded for more political influence by the people. Central to these patriot ideas was the ‘restoration’ of the state. Ever since it was drawn up in 1579, the Union of Utrecht had been considered as the constitution of the Republic. However, during the so called patriot era, the concept of constitution was given a new meaning. Although the Union of Utrecht was not completely put aside, patriots were convinced that the constitution needed changes or, in their words, ‘restoration’. Some publications like the Leids Ontwerp from 1785, described the constitutional restoration as a return to ‘a republican form of government that had existed sometime in the national past’.14 In this paper I confine myself to the constitutional concept of the more radical patriots, as it was used in the Constitional Restoration, the political program which was used as a ‘manual’ in the years 1784 to 1786. Its writers did not desire a return to a state from the past, but pleaded for a written constitution with a new state structure and individual rights.15

According to S.R.E. Klein the classical interpretation of the concept of constitution was first discussed during the American Revolution. In their struggle against Great Britain, the American colonies no longer defined the constitution as a political order or government that was build up through history. In their new interpretation, the constitution had to be a written document, which had more authority than the government.16 The Americans inspired the patriots in the Dutch Republic. Although at this stage the patriots did not pursue a written constitution yet, they did desire a change in the existing political order. In their opinion the people possessed the indivisible and inalienable sovereignty and thus the legislative power. According to the patriots, the sovereignty of the people dated from the Batavian period and therefore belonged to the history of the Republic.17

But the patriots went further than historical arguments. Referring to the innovative political theories from among others the Scotsman Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) and the Englishmen Richard Price (1723-1791) and Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), they stated that the people governed itself and therefore had the right to resist and change the existing government. However, given the size of the Republic, the introduction of a direct democracy was impossible. Moreover, not every citizen was able to deepen its political knowledge. Therefore, most patriots preferred a ‘people’s government by representation’ in cities and towns.18 In this form of government, only qualified citizens could have a voice in the election of regents.19 In this phase the problem of representation had not been worked out yet. On the one hand the patriots strove for a representative government, in which only a few inhabitants could be politically active. On the other hand they advocated a democracy in which everyone was equal and the people was sovereign permanently. Only after the Batavian Revolution this problem was resolved.20





    1. Orangist persistence

Unquestionably, patriotism was revolutionary in its use of and emphasis on sovereignty of the people and the right of resistance. But this does not mean that its political opponent orangism was by definition conservative and rigid. W.R.E. Velema showed that the known publicist and orangist Elie Luzac (1721-1796) for example, was in a certain way reform-minded. According to Velema, Luzac belonged to the Conservative Enlightenment and considered himself as ‘modern and enlightened’. In his pamphlets he did not just refer to the Dutch jurist Grotius (Hugo de Groot) (1583-1645) and the German political philosopher Samuel von Pufendorf (1632-1694), but was also inspired by the German philosopher Christian Wolff (1679-1754), who had a fascination for natural law.21 The orangist lawyer F.W. Pestel (1724-1805) was, as I.J.H. Worst showed, also willing to broaden his political convictions with the ideas of Wolff.22

However, in most orangist pamphlets that appeared during the counterrevolutionary years between 1787 and 1794, this reform-mindedness is not visible to that extent. With regard to the constitution, being the subject of this paper, most adherents of the stadholder retained the same arguments as they did during previous years. In their view, the constitution had a twofold meaning. Firstly, the Union of Utrecht was referred to as the constitution of the Republic. Secondly, the constitution was seen as the total of the state with the laws, regulations and customs that became part of it in the course of history.

According to most orangists the constitution existed of a mixed government, in which the stadholder formed an essential part. A regnum mixtum would provide a balance of power and would prevent the government from degenerating into a tyranny, olichargy or anarchy, for which the philosophers Aristoteles (384-322 B.C.) and Polybius (203-120 B.C.) already warned. It was not for the first time that orangists pointed to the importance of a mixed government. Already during the First and the Second Stadholderless Era’s (1650-1672 and 1702-1750) orangists propagated this form of government.23

Johan Canter de Munck (1753-1810), alderman of Veere and pensionary, alderman and councilor of Middelburg, dedicated a complete work to the mixed government which, according to him, formed the basis of the government in the Republic. In De tegenswoordige regeringsvorm he wrote that the Union of Utrecht was the only constitution of his fatherland. From its conclusion in 1579 on, the Union had been the basis for freedom and peace, through which the Republic had acquired status as a great power.24 The constitution of the Republic comprised monarchic, aristocratic and democratic elements, which were in balance with each other. In the view of Canter de Munck, constitutional restoration, as the patriots strived for, could only relate to the restoration of the balance between these three elements. The mixed government was the best form of government for the Republic, and thus its subversion would lead to ‘deterioration, and downfall, [and] to […] separation of the United Provinces’.25

Although the stadholder ‘displayed’ the monarchical element of this form of government, he was not a king underlined Canter de Munck. But even though the stadholder could not practice royal power, his function was associated with royal splendor and glory. He could for example appoint and discharge magistrates, maintain judicial sentences and forgive those who received the death penalty.26 The aristocratic element of the mixed government consisted of the nobility and the permanently chosen statesmen in the cities. The citizens, who’s power differed in every province, formed the democratic element. The power of these three elements was limited by laws and by the Union. Officers that were appointed by the sovereign, had to supervise the observance of these laws.27

Canter de Munck acknowledged the danger of the monarchical and the aristocratic powers uniting. However, he was convinced that the democratic element would prevent this.28 The balance between the three elements was most important in this form of government and would prevent the stadholder from becoming an autocrat.
The stadholdership, one of the elements in the orangist constitution, belonged without a doubt to a member of the House of Orange-Nassau. Obviously, the previously mentioned tasks were best assigned to the one who knew the Republic best, because of his connections to the country by birth, dignities and estates.29 Furthermore, the reason that neighbouring powers showed so much respect to the Republic was, mainly, related to the House of Orange-Nassau. In fact, the absence of a stadholder from this family, could lead to hostile attacks.30 One of the recurring arguments in favor of the House of Orange-Nassau was that this family was responsible for the prosperity of the Republic. Ever since the stadholdership of William of Orange, the military merits of his family had protected the Republic against the rule of Habsburg during the Revolt and in 1672 prevented the country from downfall. Therefore, the destruction of the stadholdership, was seen by orangists a violation of the constitution.31
The idea that the existing constitution must be preserved, was not new within orangism. Velema showed that already during the Second Stadholderless Era orangists emphasized the importance of the permanence of their constitution. To make their point, orangists referred at that time to England, which in their eyes owed its greatness to the maintenance of its constitution. Velema compared the orangist argument with ‘ancient constitutionalism’. This English model presumes that the political body will collapse when case the constitution is changed. Therefore, liberties and rights are best guaranteed in a country in which the constitution is maintained.32

The comparison Velema made, could also be applied to the orangist concept of constitution in the contra revolutionary years between 1787 and 1794. During these years, orangists were convinced that great adjustments to the constitution would be foolish. In their eyes it was not without reason that the constitution with all its rules and habits had taken this shape. History had molded the constitution.

Furthermore orangists referred to the English constitution with exaltation, because of its state model, and especially its legislative power. Besides the king, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, only a selection of the people was part of the polity. Because of this, England had a balanced state, in which people were free and had respect for the government.33 This was how orangists liked it most: a stable and permanent state which comprised different elements, but in which the people had no say. The Republic could learn from this example.



    1. Sovereignty within the mixed government

According to most orangists, within this mixed government the provincial states were sovereign. This was realized through history and should stay that way. Therefore, many orangists grounded their political conviction with elaborated, divergent historical arguments. In their pamphlets Dutch history constituted the main subject.34

According to some orangists the constitution presumed a transfer of sovereignty. They considered the relationship between citizens and state as a contract or as a marriage with ‘mutual obligations’, which could expire only with permission from both sides.35 In his Academische redevoering from 1784, the professor in Leiden Adriaan Kluit (1735-1807) had already shown that, by permission of the citizens, the sovereignty was assigned to a sovereign or representatives by those citizens. To support his claim, Kluit referred to various philosophers and statesmen like De Groot, Pufendorf, Ulrich Huber (1636-1694) and Gerard Noodt (1647-1725), but also to Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). According to Kluit, these authors already showed that sovereignty of the people was disastrous and caused revolts, civil wars and conspiracies. Therefore, the sovereignty needed to be transferred to a sovereign or to representatives. With this transfer of sovereignty, the ‘miserable nature state’ of Hobbes, in which outrage, distress and mutual fear were common, had come to an end.36 Attached to this transfer of sovereignty was, however, a ‘commitment of discipline’: citizens were bound by this commitment, as long as they wanted to enjoy the favors of society.37 The sovereign power of the state was not infinite. Because it was limited by divine and natural laws, the state could not just do whatever it wanted to.38 Also the citizens did not lose their freedom completely. On the contrary, the laws with which the state protected the citizens guaranteed the civil freedom of those citizens.39

The transfer of sovereignty did not imply that deputies were representing individual members of the society. It was impossible to dismiss, recall or replace these delegates. They represented the people as a whole and therefore, individual citizens had no place in politics.40 The civil inequality this caused was not seen as a problem, but, on the contrary, as a necessity. A society without civil inequality was impossible. In fact, inequality resulted in a happy society, because, according to Veritas, this divine order was stable and impervious to political turbulence.41




    1. The orangist constitutional concept 1787-1794

Although during the counterrevolutionary years orangists could propagate their political convictions without problems and they had time and space to sharpen their political rhetoric, most of them kept using the existing argumentations. Historical arguments still formed the largest part of the orangist reaction to the political program of the patriots. In the orangist view the constitution, that is the Union of Utrecht and the mixed government, had been moulded throughout history and must not be changed. Obviously, the stadholdership belonged to the House of Orange-Nassau.

Thus far, this orangist argumentation did not contain anything new. For one and a half century these arguments had formed part of the orangist reaction to their political opponents. However, the patriot claim for a government in which the people were sovereign, put the orangists in a new position. In their defense some of the orangists, like Kluit and Veritas, appealed to the transfer of sovereignty that was, in their view, part of the constitution. Although the use of this argument was new in orangist rhetoric, orangists did not excell in originality. During these counterrevolutionary years they did not, as the patriots did in the previous years, abandon existing political ideas. On the contrary, they still stressed the preservation of the existing political order.

2.1 Batavian renewal
Shortly after the Batavian Revolution in January 1795, the political landscape of the Republic changed radically. Many orangist regents had been replaced by new Batavian city governments. Furthermore, after the example of Holland, the provinces in the Republic had proclaimed a Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. These declarations strongly resembled the French declarations of 1789 and 1793 and, in a lesser sense, the various American Bills of Rights.42

The members of the National Assembly that replaced the old States-General in March 1796, thoroughly discussed the new political direction under the leadership of the Rotterdam lawyer Pieter Paulus. Inspired by the patriot movement of the 1780s and the American and French Revolutions, the Batavians developed their own political ideas. They interpreted the enlightened philosophers like Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Price and Priestley in their own innovative way. Old republican convictions still played an important role in this, as for example the classical republican idea that citizens should govern their own state and therefore should play a permanently active part in the political process. Political virtue, with which the citizens sacrificed their self-interest for the common cause, was very important in this.43 However, according to Mart Rutjes the idea of equality was even more important and served as the starting point of many political reformations. It was the basis on which the newly proclaimed unitary state was build. Hereditary dignities and guilds were banned in the Batavian Republic and the privileged reformed church was aligned to other religions.44 The unitary state dismissed the provincial differences in power and unified the sovereign people in the Republic. The will of the people was represented and expressed by a written constitution and elections.

Batavians thoroughly discussed citizenship and participation in politics. Basically, all inhabitants who came in useful for the society, could be considered a citizen – even the rural population and inhabitants with a low income. However, the boundaries of equality were constrained: women, men under the age of twenty, legal restraints, inhabitants who were bankrupted of declared dishonorable, prisoners and endowed persons could not be considered for citizenship. They did not belong to the ‘juridical, financial and physically independent persons’, who could have a vote in politics.45 Although some Batavians were convinced that providing orangists with citizenship increased the unity in the Republic, the latter were sidelined. From the radical unitarist coup of January 22, 1798 on, orangists were joined by federalists and moderates. Despite the fact that the participation of Jews caused an intense debate among representatives, eventually they were authorized with citizenship.46 With all these changes the Batavians broke with the constitution of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Republic.

2.2 The revolution as a challenge
The orangists opposed the Batavian unitary state and wanted to retain the old, federal state. In their view, the best way to do this was to maintain the old constitution. Therefore, the Batavian political reformations were rejected by orangists. But few were as radically resistant against the new written constitution and a new state structure as lawyer Herman Tollius (1742-1822). In his defense he stubbornly propagated the Union of Utrecht as the constitution of the Republic. In his view the Union contributed to the happiness of the citizens, to the unity and the preservation of everyone’s prosperity. In his view, the stadholder played an important role in the Union. Among other things, he wanted to preserve, recover and stimulate the balance between the provinces. A unitary state was therefore not necessary. Obviously, according to Tollius, the stadholdership belonged to the Prince of House of Orange-Nassau. Nobody in the Republic had as much landed property in the different provinces as he did. Therefore, he had to treat the provinces equally, stimulate the common prosperity and sustain relationships with foreign countries. The only way to preserve the peacefulness and quietness of the Republic was to provide the House of Orange-Nassau with the hereditary rights of the stadholdership.47

According to Tollius, a revolution of the state-structure was unnecessary. In his view, the old structure could be maintained even within the Batavian political plans.48 Although the stadholder was supposed to be ‘the great centre of unity’, Tollius stated that the Prince did not have enough power to solve every problem within the federal state.49 To create more governmental unity in the Union, Tollius pleaded for a compromise between the unitary state and the federal state. Within this state, the Union should be maintained. This would preserve the federal structure of the Republic, while at the same time the necessary ‘unity of will and power’ would be maintained.50

One of Tollius’ solutions to stimulate the unity in the federal Republic, was to appoint several ‘arbiters’ who could solve possible conflicts between provinces, cities or between provinces and the stadholder. Although this task originally belonged to the stadholder, Tollius warned that the stadholder could be part of conflict himself. Moreover, it was not totally clear on what grounds the stadholder had been appointed to this task.51 Tollius proposed to restore the authority of the Council of State and to abolish the permanent assembly of the States General. In contrast to the States General, in which every province defended its own interests, the Council of State did serve the common interest of the Union. Its members were not indebted to the provinces. The Council of State could direct the ‘general government’, while only in special cases, like warfare, the provinces were supposed to gather. Another solution was to introduce both a Council of State and a so-called ‘Landraad’, while the States General was being preserved. In the ‘Landraad’ the common interest was served, which could bring more unity in the Union. It would provide a superior kind of government, in which ‘the common will and power was conducted by common interest’.52 In this way, the unity the Batavians desired for could be achieved without thorough changes in the state-structure of the Union.

Although these plans suggest that Tollius was not as rigid as suggested, in his persistent defense of the constitution he came forward as a conservative orangist, who was not inclined to change his convictions. In contrast to Tollius, other orangists did not fight the coming of a new and written constitution that hard. Although they resisted the content of the constitution, it seemed as if they accepted the fact that the new constitution was written. Furthermore, in contrast to Tollius, most orangists no longer emphasized the importance of Dutch history for the state-structure.



2.3 Sovereignty within the representative government
The introduction of the ‘people’s government by representation’ caused much commotion among both orangists and Batavians. This radical idea, which originated from the patriot movement, resulted in a tension between the idea of sovereignty of the people and representation and was intensely debated in the Batavian Republic. According to Velema, the Staatsregeling reflected the classical republican ideal of civil self-government and an aversion of representation. However, Rutjes states that the idea of the national assembly as a sovereign legislative power was the ubiquitous vision. The parliament represented the people but did not depend on it while making laws. To give this more autonomous role of the representatives more prestige and make it into a national symbol, in May 1798, the national assembly even decided that deputies had to wear a black costume.53

Orangists emphasized the disadvantages of a representative government. One of the dangers was the sensitivity for bribery and seduction of deputies.54 Furthermore, the large amount of opposing insights between representatives would endanger the common cause.55 Additionally, freedom was not guaranteed by elections as the Batavians claimed. As a result, the government would consist of ‘quacks and frauds’, who recruited the votes of ignorant constituents to pursue their own interests.56 Moreover, Tollius wondered whether a direct political influence made the people happier.57

Remarkably, one of the orangists, the publisher and bookshopkeeper Cornelis van der Aa (1749-1815), who during these years experienced the negative consequences of the Batavian regime, was less reluctant to the Batavian renewal than Tollius and preacher and publisher Philippus Verbrugge (1750-1806). Although he, just like Tollius, argued that the Union of Utrecht was the first constitution of the Republic and must be regarded as a ‘masterpiece of statecraft’, concerning the content of the constitution he accepted the Batavian ideas.58 After reading Nut der stadhouderlijke regering from Pieter Paulus, he still preferred the mixed government, but he agreed that in this government the people were sovereign. This is remarkable, since during the counterrevolutionary period orangists considered the States as sovereign. Van der Aa however, argued that the people practiced their sovereign power via the representatives. Nonetheless, deputies should be independent because of their power and skills.59

Verbrugge was much more reluctant to accept the representative government. He argued that the tension between representation and sovereignty of the people demonstrated that it was not even possible to introduce this type of government. No matter how much the people wanted to assign sovereignty to representatives, the indivisibility and inalienability of the sovereignty of the people made this impossible.60 Sovereignty of the people was compatible with other forms of government, however. Referring to the work of the federalist Hendrik Cras (1739-1820) – ‘one of the most ingenious and learned men of this century’ – Verbrugge maintained that if the people were sovereign, it could determine its own form of government.61 Cras more bluntly stated that the people, as long as it could not determine its own form of government, was not as sovereign as the Batavians claimed.62

It is remarkable that Verbrugge is referring to Cras here. Although the latter was a federalist, just like many orangists, he still was a Batavian too. By mentioning this professor in his argumentation, Verbrugge seemed to claim that there was little difference between moderate Batavians and orangists. The fact that after the radical coup of January 1798 Cras like many orangists, was discharged from his function temporarily, made this suspicion even stronger.

In his publication Over de duurzaamheid one year later, Verbrugge argued that the introduction of a direct democracy would not be a good idea either. Given that not all citizens could be expected to have political insight and could sustain foreign relations, aristocratic families would, just like previous years, monopolize governmental positions. The National Assembly would have more power than the most independent king had ever had.63



2.4 Conclusion. The orangist constitutional concept 1795-1798
The Batavian Revolution of January 1795 confronted the orangists with a completely new political situation. Although the revolution forced them to rethink their own political convictions, their argumentation on the nature of the constitution during the first three years of the Batavian Republic was not that innovative. Most orangists still stressed the importance of the preservation of the existing constitution and the federal state. But despite the fact that some orangists detested the coming of a written constitution and some resisted the representative government, the political convictions of Van der Aa, Verbrugge and Tollius appeared to be flexible at some points. First of all, Van der Aa and Verbrugge did not reject the idea of a written constitution. With regard to the representative government, Van der Aa supported the Batavian idea of a sovereign people. Tollius finally, showed that, although he advocated the federal state, he was not against more governmental unity. By searching for solutions within the existing state-structure, even he appeared to be a quite flexible orangist.

The conclusion of this essay could be that the orangist constitutional concept did not undergo profound changes during the years from 1787 to 1798. During all these years it was stressed that the existing order had to be preserved. However, the emphasis on historical argumentation disappeared in the Batavian years and most orangists even appeared to be quite flexible at some points. The coming of a written constitution was not detested by everyone, nor was the idea of a sovereign people and the creation of more governmental unity in the Republic. The flexible attitude of the orangists, developed during the Batavian years, helped to pave the way for the written constitution of 1814.




1 W.R.E. Velema, Republicans. Essays on eighteenth-century Dutch political thought (Leiden en Boston 2007)163.

2 Mart Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen. Democratie, burgerschap en staat in Nederland 1795-1801 (Nijmegen 2012); Joris Oddens, Pioniers in schaduwbeeld: het eerste parlement van Nederland 1796-1798 (Nijmegen 2012); F. Grijzenhout, N. Van Sas and W. Velema, Het Bataafse experiment. Politiek en cultuur rond 1800 (Nijmegen 2013).

3 N.C.F. van Sas, De metamorfose van Nederland. Van oude orde naar moderniteit 1750-1900 (Amsterdam 2004) 30-32.

4 N.C.F. van Sas, ‘Koningin op krediet. Over nieuwe republikeinen en oude orangisten’, in: C.A. Tams ed., De stijl van Beatrix. De vrouw en het ambt (s.l. 2005) 205.

5 Ibidem, 212.

6 Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen, 203.

7 Joris van Eijnatten, ‘Oranje en Nederland zijn één. Orangisme in de negentiende eeuw’, Geschiedenis Magazine 23 (1999) 4-22, there 11.

8 W.R.E. Velema, ‘Lodewijk Napoleon en het einde van de republikeinse politiek’, De negentiende eeuw 30 (2006) 147-158, there 147-148.

9 N.C.F. van Sas, ‘Onder waarborging eener wijze constitutie. Grondwet en politiek 1813-1848’, in: N.C.F. van Sas and H. te Velde (ed), De eeuw van de Grondwet. Grondwet en politiek in Nederland, 1798-1917 (Deventer 1998) 114-145, there 117 and: Jeroen Koch, Koning Willem I. 1772-1843 (Amsterdam 2013) 246.

10 Van Sas, ‘Onder waarborging eener wijze constitutie’, 117-120 and Bart van Poelgeest, ‘Tussen oud en nieuw: het ontwerpen van de grondwet als een rechtshistisch mozaïek’, in: Ido de Haan, Paul den Hoed and Henk te Velde (ed), Een nieuwe staat. Het begin van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (Amsterdam 2014) 67-76, there 67.

11 Koch, Koning Willem I, 246-247.

12 See for example: Mart Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen. Democratie, burgerschap en staat in Nederland 1795-1801 (Nijmegen 2012) and Joris Oddens, Pioniers in schaduwbeeld. Het eerste parlement van Nederland 1796-1798 (Nijmegen 2012).

13 S.R.E. Klein, Patriots republikanisme. Politieke cultuur in Nederland (1766-1787) (Amsterdam 1995) 207. See for example: Wyger R.E. Velema, Enlightenment and conservatism in the Dutch Republic. The political thought of Elie Luzac (1721-1796) (Assen 1993) and I.J.H. Worst, ‘Staat, constitutie en politieke wil. Over F.W. Pestel en de variëteit van het achttiende-eeuwse orangisme’, BMGN 1987 (3) 498-515.


14 W.R.E. Velema, ‘Revolutie, republiek en constitutie. De ideologische context van de eerste Nederlandse grondwet’, in: Van Sas and Te Velde, De eeuw van de grondwet, 20-45, there 27.

15 Ibid, 27.

16 Klein, Klein republikanisme, 198-199.

17 Ibid, 286.

18 Ibid, 286-289.

19 Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen, 79.

20 Ibid, 81. See also: Klein, Patriots republikanisme, 285-288.

21 Wyger R.E. Velema, Enlightenment and conservatism in the Dutch Republic. The political thought of Elie Luzac (1721-1796) (Assen 1993) 27-29, 179-184.

22 I.J.H. Worst, ‘Staat, constitutie en politieke wil. Over F.W. Pestel en de variëteit van het achttiende-eeuwse orangisme’, BMGN 17987 (3) 498-515.

23 Jill Stern, Orangism in the Dutch Republic in word and image, 1650-75 (Manchester and New York) 9-28 and Velema, ‘God, de deugd en de oude constitutie’, 489-494.

24 Johan Canter de Munck, De tegenswoordige regeringsvorm der Zeven Vereenigde Provintien, gehandhaafd en verdeedigd, etc. (Middelburg 1787) 25-26.

25 Ibid, 80-81.

26 Ibid, 81-82. Especially the appointing of magistrates resulted in unclear authority relationships in the Republic. With this the stadholder, who was in fact a servant of the sovereign States, indirectly compiled the States. See: A.J.C.M. Gabriëls, De heren als dienaren en de dienaar als heer. Het stadhouderlijk stelsel in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw (Leiden 1989) 48.

27 Ibid, 83 and 213.

28 Ibid, 212.

29 Cornelis Willem Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling over de natuur en uitnemendheid der herstelde regeeringswyze van den Nederlandsche Republiek (Amsterdam 1787) 38.

30 Canter de Munck, De tegenswoordige regeringsvorm, 102 and Onpartydige beschouwing, 40.

31 Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling, 7; Onpartydige beschouwing, 7, 35-36.

32 Velema, ‘God, de deugd en de oude constitutie’, 491-493.

33 Veritas, Missive aan Mr. Pieter Paulus [...] schryver eener verhandeling over de vraage: In welken zin kunnen de menschen gezegd worden gelyk te zyn? En welken zyn de regten en pligten, die daar uit voortvloeijen? (z.p. 1793) 24-25 and Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling, 9.

34 See for example: A.G. Waelwyk, Vaderlandsche remarques volgens en op de Staatkundige Geschriften van Mr. Simon van Slingelandt, over de oude regeering van Holland, onder de graaven, en de verandering daar in gevallen zeedert de troublen (Den Haag 1787); Canter de Munck, De tegenswoordige regeringsvorm; Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling; Adriaan Kluit, De souvereiniteit der Staten van Holland verdedigd tegen de hedendaagsche leer der volksregering, zoo als dezelve onder anderen wordt voorgedragen in een geschrift, getiteld: Grondwettige herstelling van Nederlands staatswezen, zoo voor het algemeen bontgenootschap, als voor het bestuur van elke bijzondere provincie (2nd edition; Leiden 1788); D.W. Smits, Verdeediging van de stadhouderlyke regeering en het stadhouderlyk Orange-Huys, of tweede vervolg op de schaadelykheid der tweedragt in de Republiek, enz. (Rotterdam 1788).

35 Kluit, De souvereiniteit der Staaten van Holland, 75 and Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling, 35.

36 Adriaan Kluit, Academische redevoering over het misbruik van ’t algemeen staatsrecht, of over de nadeelen en onheilen, die uit het misbruik in de beoefening voor alle burgermaatschappijen te wachten zijn (Leiden 1787) 21, 31, 62 and 76. Kluit red his speech when he stepped down from his function as chancellor in Leiden in 1784, but its publication was postponed till 1787 because of the political turbulence during those years.

37 Ibid, 31-51.

38 Kluit, De souvereiniteit der Staten, 69.

39 Veritas, Missive aan Mr. Pieter Paulus, 21-27 and Meerman, De burgerlyke Vryheid, 5-6.

40 Canter de Munck, De tegenswoordige regeeringsvorm, 173, 211; Decker, Proeve eener verhandeling, 43; Kluit, De souvereiniteit der Staten, 75 and Kluit, Academische redevoering, 70.

41 Veritas, Missive aan Mr. Pieter Paulus, 14-19. Veritas was a pseudonym for the statesman Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp.

42 F.H. van der Burg, ‘De verklaring van 31 januari 1795: historisch perspectief en hedendaagse betekenis’, in: F.H. van der Burg en H. Boels (ed.), Tweehonderd jaar rechten van de mens in Nederland. De verklaring van de rechten van de mens en van de burger van 31 januari 1795 toegelicht en vergeleken met Franse en Amerikaanse voorgangers (Leiden 1994) 7-20. About the differences between the declarations in each province see: H. Boels, ‘Mensenrechtenverklaringen in de andere gewesten van de Bataafse Republiek’, in: Van der Burg en Boels, Tweehonderd jaar, 21-32.

43 Wyger Velema, ‘Republikeinse democratie. De politieke wereld van de Bataafse Revolutie, 1795-1798’, in: Frans Grijzenhout, Niek van Sas en Wyger Velema (ed.), Het Bataafs experiment. Politiek en cultuur rond 1800 (Nijmegen 2013) 27-64, there 28.

44 Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen.

45 Ibidem 125-130 en 215, citate 215; Henk Boels, Binnenlandse zaken. Ontstaan en ontwikkeling van een departement in de Bataafse tijd, 1795-1806 (Ten Boer 1993) 93.

46 Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen, 132-133.

47 [Herman Tollius}, Vertoog over de rampen van Holland en de hulpmiddelen daartegen (Antwerpen 1796) 163-164.

48 [Herman Tollius], Nederland’s staatsgebreken en derzelver geneesmiddelen (z.p. 1797) 66-67, 90-91, 98. This pamphlet is a revision of the anonymously published French pamphlet Exposé des maux de la Hollande et des remèdes à y apporter (z.p. 1796), which Tollius also published in Dutch as Vertoog over de rampen.

49 [Tollius], Nederland’s staatsgebreken, 64.

50 Ibid, 67, 158-159.

51 Ibidem, 29-30 en 69-74. Zie ook [Tollius], Vertoog over de rampen, 16.

52 Ibidem, 79-82, citaat 81. Zie ook [Tollius], Vertoog over de rampen, 24-27.


53 Rutjes, Door gelijkheid gegrepen, 75-83 en Velema, ‘Republikeinse democratie’, 63.

54 [Tollius], Nederland’s staatsgebreken, 45 en 94.

55 Ibid, 45.

56 Verbrugge, Over de duurzaamheid, 53.

57 [Tollius], Vertoog over de rampen, 129.

58 Van der Aa, Myne politicque denkwyze, 13.

59 Ibid, 17-18.

60 [Philippus Verbrugge], De historie der politieke eeden, verklaringen, en beloften, voor den jaare 1795, en de zes eerste maanden van 1796 (Middelburg etc. 1796) 74. Although the Historie der politieke eeden was published anonymously, in his following publication Over de duurzaamheid, of onduurzaamheid, des nieuwen Nederlandschen staatsgebouws Verbrugge wrote that this work was written by him.

61 Ibid, 21-23 and 67-70.

62 Hendrik Constantyn Cras, Tweede noodwendig aanhangzel tot de bedenkingen en bezwaaren over den eed […] (Amsterdam 1796) 109-112. Before Cras got his doctorate in law and became professor in Amsterdam, he took some classes in the philosophy of law with the orangist Elie Luzac: NNBW II, 347-350.

63 Verbrugge, Over de duurzaamheid, 72-73.




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