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Revolution, Counterrevolution And The Stadholderate, 1780–1795

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Chapter Summary

The revolutionary events of 1795 had been preceded by a cycle of revolution, counterrevolution and restoration during the last fifteen years of the existence of the old Dutch Republic. This chapter reconstructs the nature of the debate over the stadholderate, a debate ultimately resolved by the brute facts of 1795, during the eventful decade and a half before 1795. It discusses the Patriot attack on the status quo in general and on the stadholderate in particular. The radicalism of the Patriot movement may perhaps best be understood as arising from the combination of three elements: the tradition of classical republicanism, the notion of permanent and inalienable popular sovereignty and a boundless confidence in a progressive and continuous process of popular enlightenment. The chapter demonstrates the validity of such an analysis of the nature of Patriot political thought, and analyses the ways in which the Orangists responded to this new threat.

Keywords: classical republicanism; counterrevolution; Dutch Republic; Orangists; Patriot movement; stadholderate; status quo



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