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At the Origin of Revolution: Printing in Exile

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The Brabant Revolution of 1787-90 is often described in terms of the contrast with its French contemporary. Nevertheless in many ways they followed the same pattern. Anonymous pamphlets, printed under a fictitious address, played an essential role in propagating anti-Josephist ideas. They were often printed abroad, especially in the principality of Liège. The main author among the clerical opposition, F.X. de Feller, had most of his pamphlets printed by J.J. Tutot at Liège even before he had to flee the country. A particularly important role was played by the Leuven (Louvain) typographer J.J. Michel, printer of e.g. the famous so called 'Letters of Keuremenne', who left the Austrian Netherlands to evade persecution and established himself at Sint-Truiden. There he met the papal nuncio Zondadari, expelled by Joseph II, and other exiles including professors from the University of Leuven. With their help he continued printing pamphlets and tracts and organized the distribution of this kind of literature, not only his own work but also products from the Liège presses. It is possible that some exiles were involved in similar activities in Holland.

After the successful revolution had resulted in the triumph of the conservative party, the democratic opposition left the new Republic of the United Belgian States for France, where they also had pamphlets printed and prepared their taking over of power with French assistance.

Affiliations: 1: University of Leuven, Belgium


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