Batavian Republic
The Batavian Republic was the successor
Succession of states
Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding the recognition and acceptance of a newly created sovereign state by other states, based on a perceived historical relationship the new state has with a prior state...

 of the Republic of the United Netherlands
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. It was proclaimed on January 19, 1795, and ended on June 5, 1806, with the accession of Louis Bonaparte
Louis Bonaparte
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, Comte de Saint-Leu , King of Holland , was the fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino...

 to the throne of the Kingdom of Holland
Kingdom of Holland
The Kingdom of Holland 1806–1810 was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the Netherlands. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country...


The new Republic enjoyed widespread support from the Dutch population and was the product of a genuine popular revolution. Nevertheless, it clearly was founded with the armed support of the revolutionary French Republic. The Batavian Republic became a client state, first of that "sister-republic
French client republic
During its occupation of neighboring parts of Europe during the French Revolutionary Wars, France established republican regimes in these territories...

", and later of the French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte, and its politics were deeply influenced by the French who supported no fewer than three coups d'état to bring the different political factions to power that France favored at different moments in her own historical development. Nevertheless, the process of creating a written Dutch constitution was mainly driven by internal political factors, not by French influence—until Napoleon forced the Dutch government to accept his brother as monarch.

The political, economic and social reforms that were brought about during the relatively short duration of the Batavian Republic have had a lasting impact. The confederal structure of the old Dutch Republic was permanently replaced by a unitary state. For the first time in Dutch history, the constitution that was adopted in 1798 had a genuinely democratic character (despite the fact that it was pushed through after a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

). For a while the Republic was governed democratically, though the coup d'état of 1801 put an authoritarian regime in power, after another change in constitution. Nevertheless, the memory of this brief experiment with democracy helped smooth the transition to a more democratic government in 1848 (the constitutional revision by Thorbecke
Johan Rudolph Thorbecke
Johan Rudolph Thorbecke was a Dutch politician and statesman of Liberal signature who is considered as one of the most important Dutch politicians of the 19th century...

, limiting the power of the King). A type of ministerial government was introduced for the first time in Dutch history and many of the current government departments date their history back to this period.

Though the Batavian Republic was a client state, its successive governments tried their best to maintain a modicum of independence and to serve Dutch interests even where those clashed with those of their French overseers. This perceived obduracy led to the eventual demise of the Republic when the short-lived experiment with the (again authoritarian) regime of "Grand Pensionary" Schimmelpenninck produced insufficient docility in the eyes of Napoleon. The new king, Louis Napoleon - Napoleon's own brother - surprisingly did not slavishly follow French dictates either, leading to his downfall.


The final days of the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 were quite eventful. Due to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
The Fourth Anglo–Dutch War was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. The war, tangentially related to the American Revolutionary War, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain's enemies in that...

 that went disastrously for the Dutch, the Patriot party
Patriots (faction)
The Patriots were a political faction in the Dutch Republic in the second half of the 18th century. They were led by Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, gaining power from November 1782....

 staged a revolt
Dutch Patriot Revolt, 1787
The Dutch Patriot Revolt was part of a series of revolutionary actions that took place from 1787 through 1789 in the Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands , Poland, and France.-Background:...

 against the authoritarian regime of stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

 William V
William V, Prince of Orange
William V , Prince of Orange-Nassau was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, and between 1795 and 1806 he led the Government of the Dutch Republic in Exile in London. He was succeeded by his son William I...

 that was struck down through the intervention of William's brother-in-law Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II of Prussia
Frederick William II was the King of Prussia, reigning from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-Elector of Brandenburg and the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel.-Early life:...

 in June 1787. Most Patriots went into exile in France, while the ancien régime strengthened its grip on the government through the Orangist
Orangism (Netherlands)
Orangism is a monarchist political support for the House of Orange-Nassau as monarchy of the Netherlands. It played a significant role in the political history of the Netherlands since the Dutch revolt...

 Grand Pensionary
Grand Pensionary
The Grand Pensionary was the most important Dutch official during the time of the United Provinces. In theory he was only a civil servant of the Estates of the dominant province among the Seven United Provinces: the county of Holland...

 Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel
Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel
Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel was Grand Pensionary of Zeeland and, from November 9, 1787 to February 4, 1795, of Holland. He was an Orangist, which means that he was a supporter of Prince William V of Orange. He became grand pensionary of Holland when the Prussian army had reinstated William V in...

Only a few years later, the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 began, which embraced many of the political ideas that the Patriots had espoused in their own revolt. The Patriots enthusiastically supported the Revolution, and when the French revolutionary armies started to spread that revolution, the Patriots joined in, hoping to liberate their own country from its authoritarian yoke. The Stadtholder joined the First Coalition
First Coalition
The War of the First Coalition was the first major effort of multiple European monarchies to contain Revolutionary France. France declared war on the Habsburg monarchy of Austria on 20 April 1792, and the Kingdom of Prussia joined the Austrian side a few weeks later.These powers initiated a series...

 of countries in their attempt to subdue revolutionary France.

Creation of the Republic

This war also proceeded disastrously for the Stadtholder's forces, and in the severe winter of 1794/95 a French army under general Charles Pichegru
Charles Pichegru
Jean-Charles Pichegru was a French general and political figure of the French Revolution and Revolutionary Wars.-Early life and career:...

, with a Dutch contingent under general Herman Willem Daendels
Herman Willem Daendels
Herman Willem Daendels was a Dutch politician who served as the 36th Governor General of the Dutch East Indies between 1808 and 1811....

, crossed the great frozen rivers that traditionally protected the Netherlands from invasion. Aided by the fact that a substantial proportion of the Dutch population looked favorably upon the French incursion, and often considered it a liberation, the French were quickly able to break the resistance of the forces of the Stadtholder, and his Austrian and British allies. However, in many cities revolution broke out even before the French arrived and Revolutionary Committees
Revolutionary Committee of the Batavian Republic
The Revolutionary Committee of the Batavian Republic was formed on 17 January 1795, when revolution broke out in The Netherlands against the regime of prince William V of Orange. The Dutch army was defeated by the French, and the French were seen as liberators. William V fled to Great Britain. Many...

 took over the city governments, and (provisionally) the national government also. William was forced to flee to England on a fishing boat on January 18, 1795.

Stages in the history of the new Republic

Though the French presented themselves as liberators, they behaved like conquerors. After acrimonious negotiations between the representatives of the new Batavian Republic, a name that refers to the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

 of the Batavians
The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe, originally part of the Chatti, reported by Tacitus to have lived around the Rhine delta, in the area that is currently the Netherlands, "an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the...

 that in Dutch nationalistic
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

Lore may refer to:* Loré , a city and subdistrict in Lautém District* Lore , the region on each side of a birds face between eye and bill* Lore , a fictional android* Lore Sjöberg, an internet humourist...

 represented both its ancestry and its ancient quest for liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

, and those of the French Republic, a harsh Treaty of The Hague
Treaty of The Hague (1795)
The Treaty of Den Haag was signed on May 16, 1795 between representatives of the French Republic and the Batavian Republic. Based on the terms of the treaty, the Batavian Republic ceded the territories of Maastricht, Venlo, and Flanders to France...

 was concluded on May 16, 1795. Apart from imposing territorial concessions and a huge indemnity, this obligated the Dutch to maintain a French army of occupation of 25,000 men. This changed the new republic from an Anglo-Prussian to a French client state
Client state
Client state is one of several terms used to describe the economic, political and/or military subordination of one state to a more powerful state in international affairs...

; henceforth it would conduct a foreign and military policy dictated by France, where its predecessor had followed British dictates since 1787 (an offensive and defensive alliance of the two republics was part of the treaty), while its economic policies would in effect also be made subservient to the interests of France. However, this did not mean that it lost its independence in all respects. The program of reform that the Dutch revolutionaries attempted to put in place (however constrained by the political realities of the French revolution as this was to progress) was mostly driven by indigenous needs and aspirations. The political events in the Netherlands were mainly derived from Dutch initiative, with some notable exceptions. The French were responsible for at least one of the coups d'état, and the French ambassador often acted as a proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...


The revolutionary States-General

At first, the revolutionaries used the constitutional machinery of the old confederal republic. They resumed where they had left off after the 1787 purge of Patriot regents
In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the regenten were the rulers of the Dutch Republic, the leaders of the Dutch cities or the heads of organisations . Though not formally a hereditary "class", they were de facto "patricians", comparable to that ancient Roman class...

, taking over the offices of the Orangist regents that were now purged in their turn. Though the political make-up of the States-General changed appreciably because of this change in personnel, it retained a number of defenders of the old particularist
Political particularism
Political particularism is the ability of policymakers to further their careers by appealing to narrow interests rather than the wider interests of the country...

 interests. The first order of business of the revolutionaries therefore was to strive for the reform of the confederal state, with its discrimination of the Generality Lands
Generality Lands
The Generality Lands, Lands of the Generality or Common Lands were about one fifth of the territories of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, that were directly governed by the States-General...

, and of particular minorities (Catholics, Jews), in the direction of a unitary state
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

, in which the minorities would be emancipated
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

, and the old entrenched interests superseded by a more democratic
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 political order. As a first step the representatives of Brabant
North Brabant
North Brabant , sometimes called Brabant, is a province of the Netherlands, located in the south of the country, bordered by Belgium in the south, the Meuse River in the north, Limburg in the east and Zeeland in the west.- History :...

 were admitted to the States-General.

However, a grass-roots democratic movement began to form in the Summer of 1795, consisting of popular societies (clubs) and wijkvergaderingen (precinct meetings), demanding popular influence on the government. A kind of parallel government in the form of "general assemblies" sprang up next to the city governments and the provincial States that repeatedly came into conflict with the established order. In the Fall of 1795 the States-General started to work on a procedure to peacefully replace itself, "by constitutional means", with a National Assembly
National Assembly of the Batavian Republic
The National Assembly of the Batavian Republic was the name for the Dutch parliament between 1796 and 1801. The National assembly was founded in 1796 after general elections. It replaced the States-General of the Batavian Republic...

 that would possess full executive, legislative and constituent powers. This project at first met with sharp resistance from the conservatives. In some cases even force was used (as in Friesland
Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands and part of the ancient region of Frisia.Until the end of 1996, the province bore Friesland as its official name. In 1997 this Dutch name lost its official status to the Frisian Fryslân...

 and Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

) to overcome this opposition. The new National Assembly convened in The Hague on March 1, 1796.

Struggle for a Constitution

Like the old revolutionary States-General, the new National Assembly contained radically opposed parties: the unitary democrats, led by Pieter Vreede
Pieter Vreede
Pieter Vreede , was a Dutch politician of the Batavian Republic in the 18th century. Vreede was born in Leiden and died in Heusden. He was a prominent critic of stadholderian misrule and of the urban patriciate....

, Johan Valckenaer
Johan Valckenaer
Johan Valckenaer was a Dutch lawyer, patriot and diplomat.- Life :His father Lodewijk Caspar Valckenaer was Franeker university's professor of law and, in 1766, was appointed to succeed Tiberius Hemsterhuis at Leiden...

, and Pieter Paulus
Pieter Paulus
Pieter Paulus was a Dutch jurist, admiral-fiscal and politician. He was one of the ideologues of the Patriot movement and is considered by many Dutch as the founder of their democracy and political unity.-Life:His father was Axel's mill-builder, schepen and mayor...

, and the federalists, such as Jacob Abraham de Mist
Jacob Abraham de Mist
Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist was a Dutch statesman. He was Head of State of the National Assembly of the Batavian Republic from 17 April 1797 - 1 May 1797 and Commissioner-General of the Cape Colony during the interregnum from 21 February 1803 - 25 September 1804 in accordance with the...

 and Gerard Willem van Marle. But there was a broad continuum of opinion between these poles. In this force-field the federalists held the upper hand after the sudden demise of Paulus (who might otherwise have acted as a unifier). The conservative federalists were more adept at parliamentary manoeuvering (Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck
Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck
Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck , Lord of Nyenhuis, Peckedam and Gellicum, was a Dutch politician of the Batavian Republic and an investor in the Holland Land Company....

 proved himself especially adept at this). The frustration this engendered among the democrats led them to appeal to popular opinion and to extra-parliamentary action. Meanwhile, the Assembly installed a constitutional commission that in November, 1796, presented a report that amounted to a continuation of the old federal arrangements. As this was totally unacceptable to the unitarists, this draft was subsequently amended into its opposite, by a compromise that finally formed a basis for a new Constitution. The Assembly now started upon a discussion of other important matters, like the separation between church and state, and the emancipation of minorities. The organs of the state were to be a bicameral Legislative Corps, to be elected in indirect elections, and a Directoire
French Directory
The Directory was a body of five Directors that held executive power in France following the Convention and preceding the Consulate...

-like Executive of five members. The end result looked much like the French Constitution of 1795
French Constitution of 1795
The Constitution of 22 August 1795 was a national constitution of France ratified by the National Convention on 22 August 1795 during the French Revolution...

. This was approved by the Assembly on May 10, 1797.

The draft-Constitution was to be subjected to a referendum
Batavian Republic constitutional referendum, 1797
A referendum on the constitution of the Batavian Republic was held on August 8, 1797. The draft constitution was rejected, eventually culminating in a coup d'état.-Background:...

 on August 8, 1797, after a very lively campaign in which the French ambassador Noël weighed in with a supportive appeal. This probably contributed to the resounding defeat of the proposal (108,761 votes to 27,995). The Assembly was back at square one. At this moment in time foreign events in the form of the 18 Fructidor-coup of general Pierre Augereau intervened. This brought the more radical faction to power in France, which proved to be ultimately less patient with the vagaries of the Dutch political process, and more prone to intervene. Elections for a second National Assembly returned one in which the balance of power had shifted to the unitarists in the Fall of 1797. Nevertheless, the federalists managed to retain control of the new constitutional commission by a bare majority. This led to more dawdling and the unitarists in the Assembly now came with their own proposal in the form of the Declaration of 43 on December 12, 1797, containing a nine-point manifesto concerning the minimum conditions to which the new constitution should conform.

Now the course of events started to speed up. The new French ambassador Charles-François Delacroix
Charles-François Delacroix
Charles-François Delacroix was a secretary to Turgot, a deputy to the National Convention and a French Minister of Foreign Affairs between 3 November, 1795 and 15 July 1797. In 1799, he became the first prefect in the Bouches-du-Rhône and in 1803 in the Gironde. Delacroix interrogated George...

 took the side of the radicals. His behavior sufficiently intimidated the opponents of the radical proposals to actually fall in line. The coup that was to follow was therefore in reality superfluous. Nevertheless, the radicals, led by Wybo Fijnje
Wybo Fijnje
Wybo Fijnje was a Dutch Mennonite minister, publisher in Delft, Patriot, exile, coup perpetrator, politician and - during the French era - manager of the state newspaper.-Early life:...

 and Anthonie Willem Ockerse, in cohorts with Pierre Auguste Brahain Ducange
Pierre Auguste Brahain Ducange
Pierre Auguste Brahain Ducange was a French journalist, minor diplomat, secret agent, swindler, and author. He was the father of the French author Victor Henri Joseph Brahain Ducange...

, the secretary of the French ambassador, now started to plot the coup d'état of January 21–22, 1798, which, with the assistance of general Daendels, put the radicals in power. A rump-Assembly
Rump legislature
A Rump legislature is a legislature formed of part, usually a minority, of the legislators originally elected or appointed to office.The word "rump" normally refers to the back end of an animal; its use meaning "remnant" was first recorded in the context of the 17th century Rump Parliament in England...

 of about fifty radicals declared itself a Constituante, which in one fell swoop enacted the entire radical program, while the other members of the Assembly were forcibly detained. All provincial sovereignties were repealed; the dissident members of the Assembly expelled; an "interim Executive Directory" empowered; and the constitutional commission reduced to seven radical members.

Though the resulting Constitution has sometimes been depicted as a pre-digested French project, it was actually a result of the constitutional commission's discussions between October, 1797 and January, 1798. Except for the purge of the electoral rolls of "crypto-Orangists" and other reactionaries, it might therefore have been acceptable for the moderates, obviating the need for the January coup. In any case, the "suggestions" of Delacroix were politely rejected and the constitutional commission insisted on the following three essential points: universal manhood suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

, without fiscal qualifications; the right of revision of the constitution at quinquennial intervals by the voters; and finally the rejection of the principle of a bicameral legislature
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

, in which each House would have a separate electoral base.

The new constitution addressed many of the reformist concerns of the Patriots since 1785 (no hereditary offices; no sinecure
A sinecure means an office that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service...

s; accountability of officials). It also came down on the side of Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism
Economic liberalism is the ideological belief in giving all people economic freedom, and as such granting people with more basis to control their own lives and make their own mistakes. It is an economic philosophy that supports and promotes individual liberty and choice in economic matters and...

 (as opposed to Mercantilism
Mercantilism is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade. Mercantilism dominated Western European economic policy and discourse from...

) in the economic debate then raging in republican circles (and therefore promised to do away with guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s and internal impediments to trade). The old provincial-repartition system of public finance was to be replaced by a system of national taxation. There was to be a five-man Uitvoerend Bewind as a collective Executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, with eight national Agenten (government ministers) doing the actual Administration
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

 work (Foreign Affairs, Police and Interior, Justice, Finance, War, Navy, National Education, and National Economy). Most importantly, as the British historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

 states: "[i]ts central aim was to change the nature of the Dutch state and to bind its new institutions into the framework of an electoral democracy." As such it had an importance that outlasted the Batavian Republic and set up an ideal to emulate for its successor states.

Though the coup of January 22 did not bode well for a genuinely democratic approval process for the new constitution (and the French would have preferred going the "safe" way of approval by the rump-Assembly) the plebiscite that started on March 17 (in the usual form of elections in "primary" assemblies of about 100-500 voters) had a reasonably democratic quality. On April 23, 1798, the Staatsregeling voor het Bataafsche Volk was approved with 153,913 votes against 11,587 (i.e. just 641 more people voted for approval in 1798 than had voted for rejection of the previous draft in 1797; about 50% of the electorate had voted.) The new regime therefore seemed well-grounded in the new doctrine of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...


The Uitvoerend Bewind

Giddy with their success, the radicals now started to overstep their bounds. Their legitimacy was already tenuous, because of the way they had seized power. Now they also lost support in the rump-Assembly because of their partisanship. Not wishing to repeat the mistakes of the French Jacobins
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

 they moved against the popular political clubs that formed their political base, thereby alienating their most enthusiastic supporters. On the other hand, at the behest of Delacroix they also moved against "counter-revolutionaries" by having purging commissions removing these people from the electoral rolls, further undermining the legitimacy of the regime, as moderate Patriots were also disenfranchised. The final blow was that the new regime reneged on its promise to elect an entirely new Representative Assembly.

The coup d'état of the moderates

Meanwhile, the 22 Floréal-coup in France undermined Delacroix, because it inspired more sympathy by French foreign minister Talleyrand for the Dutch opposition members who demanded the ambassador's recall. At the same time, Daendels became disaffected with the regime he had helped put into power because of the depredations of the purging commissions. His French colleague General Joubert
Barthélemy Catherine Joubert
Barthélemy Catherine Joubert was a French general. He joined the royal French army in 1784 and rose rapidly in rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon Bonaparte recognized his talents and gave him increased responsibilities...

 was displeased with the radicals because of conflicts about the co-dominion of Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

. Finally, the newly appointed Agenten were disturbed about the inefficiency of the Uitvoerend Bewind. All these disaffections came together with the June 12, 1798 putsch
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 of that recidivist
Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior...

, general Daendels, in which he disturbed a dinner party of Delacroix and three members of the Uitvoerend Bewind, violating the diplomatic immunity of the ambassador by putting pistols to his chest. The members of the Representative Assembly were arrested in session.

The fall of the Vreede-Fijnje Bewind opened the way for the actual implementation of the new constitution. The "Interim Directory" that now came to power (consisting of a few of the dissenting Agenten) made haste with organizing elections for the Representative Assembly that convened on July 31. By the middle of August a new Uitvoerend Bewind had been appointed and the Agenten who had been behind the coup, resumed their original positions. This new regime now started to implement the policies that their radical predecessors had written into the constitution. The coup of June therefore was not a reactionary revolution, but only brought about a change in personnel. Soon most of the people that were arrested at both the January and June coups were released in the spirit of reconciliation that the new regime advocated. The make-up of the Representative Assembly closely resembled that of the second National Assembly of 1797.

The new regime was soon to discover that changes don't easily come about by legislative fiat. The part of the constitution that worked adequately was the experiment with indirect democracy. During the period in which the constitution was in force, the system of primary assemblies that elected delegates who voted for the respective organs of government worked efficiently, and kept the voters engaged. However, exactly because the Republic was a genuine democracy, other goals of the regime were less easy to attain. The elections often put people into office that were very much opposed to the unitary state that was now enshrined in the constitution, and to other innovations that it entailed, or in any case were of a conservative inclination.

This already applied at the top: the constitution contained an age-requirement for the members of the Uitvoerend Bewind, which favored the election of staid Patriot regents, and discriminated against the more talented "young Turks
Young Turks
The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...

" that were appointed Agents, like Jacobus Spoors
Jacobus Spoors
Jacobus Spoors , was a Dutch politician in the Batavian Republic.-Career:*Attorney, Leiden, since 1777...

, Gerrit Jan Pijman, and Isaac Jan Alexander Gogel. The tenor of the Bewind became more conservative in the ensuing years. The agents went to work energetically, however, and started with an onslaught on the old administrative organization of the country, in a deliberate attempt to liquidate the very identity of the old federal structure. The once mighty province Holland was carved into three pieces: Amstel (Amsterdam and immediate vicinity), Texel (the northern peninsula), and Delf (the southern part); and the other provinces were often merged in larger entities, like Overijssel and Drente into Ouden Yssel, and Frisia and Groningen into the Eems department. The aim was to organize the country into units with equal numbers of primary assemblies (hence the small Amstel department with its large population). The first elections for the administrative organs of these new entities were held in March, 1799. But of course, such a reorganization did not suddenly change the old allegiances of the people living in these areas. In any case, the new local and departmental administrations, though elected, were supposed to execute the policies as centrally laid down by the national government. As the elections often put people in power who represented the old order (like Joan Arend de Vos van Steenwijk in Ouden Yssel) this was exceedingly unlikely. To put it differently, the political effort to attain "national unity" through reconciliation of the diverse Patriot factions of all stripes, got in the way of the effort to create an efficient national unitary state, as envisioned by Gogel.

Public-finance reform

The unitary state was not an end in itself, but a means to higher ends. The republic had been in dire financial straits even before the revolution of 1795. The system of public finance that had been the envy of the world in its Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

, enabling it to throw far beyond its weight in world politics up to the Peace of Utrecht
Treaty of Utrecht
The Treaty of Utrecht, which established the Peace of Utrecht, comprises a series of individual peace treaties, rather than a single document, signed by the belligerents in the War of Spanish Succession, in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March and April 1713...

 in 1713, had become a millstone around its neck. By 1713 the public debt
Government debt
Government debt is money owed by a central government. In the US, "government debt" may also refer to the debt of a municipal or local government...

 of the province of Holland had reached 310 million guilders; the debt of the Generality was 68 million; and the debts of the smaller provinces, and of the cities came on top of this. The debt service of Holland alone in that year required 14 million guilders, which exceeded its regular tax revenue. Most of this humongous public debt was held by Dutch private citizens, so in a sense it merely engendered an internal money circuit in the Dutch economy. However, it was mostly concentrated in the hands of the rentier
Rentier capitalism
Rentier capitalism is a term used in Marxism and sociology which refers to a type of capitalism where a large amount of profit-income generated takes the form of property income, received as interest, intellectual property rights, rents, dividends, fees, or capital gains.The beneficiaries of this...

class, while the debt was serviced by mainly regressive tax
Regressive tax
A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases. "Regressive" describes a distribution effect on income or expenditure, referring to the way the rate progresses from high to low, where the average tax rate exceeds the...

es that weighed on the working population. Most importantly, these were taxes levied by the individual provinces, who serviced their own debt, and paid into the Generality coffers according to a repartition
Quota share
A quota share is a specified number or percentage of the allotment as a whole , that is prescribed to each individual entity ....

 schedule last changed in 1616. Attempts to reform this structure during the 18th century were mainly fruitless.

To ameliorate the situation the old Republic maintained a policy of severe austerity during the century, especially economizing on its defense outlays (which in large part explains why its military and political role declined so much). Up to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War this policy succeeded in bringing down the level of debt, but this war brought a large uptick in the public debt: between 1780 and 1794 the province of Holland alone issued 120 million guilders of new bonds. In 1795, its total debt stood at 455 million guilders. To this should be added the debts of the United East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 and its sister, the WIC
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

, and the five Dutch Admiralties
Admiralty of Amsterdam
The Admiralty of Amsterdam was the largest of the five Dutch admiralties at the time of the Dutch Republic. The administration of the various Admiralties was strongly influenced by provincial interests...

 for a total of about 150 million guilders. The other provinces owed 155 million guilders. The grand total in 1795, at the beginning of the Batavian Republic, came to 760 million guilders; this imposed a debt service of 25 million guilders annually. The indemnity of the Treaty of The Hague immediately added 100 million guilders to this total, and the maintenance of the French army of occupation added about 12 million annually (while the other funding requirements of the republic added another 20 million annually). In 1814 the public debt stood at 1.7 billion guilders.

The average ordinary revenue of the republic at this time amounted to between 28 and 35 million guilders. However, since the outbreak of the war in 1793 the expenditure had been running at between 40 and 55 millions. For the year 1800 the republic had to find 78 million guilders for its expenditures. In other words, the new Agent of Finance, Gogel, was faced with a financial emergency. He needed to generate about 50 million guilders annually in ordinary revenue on a permanent basis urgently. Besides, as the Dutch tax system was heavily skewed toward highly regressive indirect taxes, which inordinately burdened the impoverished population, he wanted to change this to a system that depended more on direct (income and wealth) taxes. Finally, he wanted to do away with the provincial differentiation in the taxation, and construct a nationally standardized system. When he put these reform proposals to the Representative Assembly on September 30, 1799, they met with massive resistance. This led to so much delay in its acceptance that by the time it was to be implemented (in 1801) the re-federalisation of the state by the new Staatsbewind regime was already underway. Eventually, Gogel's reforms were only implemented under the successor state of the Kingdom of Holland.

These are (important) examples of instances in which the good intentions of the Uitvoerend Bewind and its Agenten met with the political and economic realities of the times. Other necessary reforms (the abolition of the guilds, the reform of the system of poor relief to mention but a few examples) equally came to nothing. These defeats progressively led to disenchantment of the population with the regime, that already was in an awkward position because it was also brushed with the tar of the depredations of the French "sister republic" that mainly viewed the Batavian Republic as a milch cow, both collectively (in its demands for loans at very low interest rates) and individually (in the demands of French officials for bribes and other extortions).

The Anglo-Russian Invasion

The sagging popularity of the Republic did, of course, not escape the attention of the British intelligence services. However, because this intelligence was filtered through the eyes of Orangist agents in the Republic and émigrés in England, it was erroneously interpreted as possible support for an Orangist restoration. This caused the miscalculation that led to the ill-fated Anglo-Russian invasion
Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland
The Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland refers to the campaign of 27 August to 19 November 1799 during the War of the Second Coalition, in which an expeditionary force of British and Russian troops invaded the North-Holland peninsula in the Batavian Republic...

 in the peninsula of North Holland in 1799.

Though the expedition ended in failure the members of the Uitvoerend Bewind became very nervous in the days before the Battle of Bergen
Battle of Bergen (1799)
The Battle of Bergen, also called the Battle of Bergen-Binnen, was fought on 19 September 1799, and resulted in a French-Dutch victory under General Brune and General Daendels against the Russians and British under the Duke of York who had landed in North Holland...

. The Agent for Foreign Affairs, Van der Goes
Maarten van der Goes van Dirxland
Maarten van der Goes van Dirxland was a Dutch politician and government minister. He belonged to the Patriot then moderate party. His son Louis Napoleon van der Goes van Dirxland was also active as a minister.-Life:Van der Goes came from a family of Regenten in the Hague and his father, Adriaan...

 who had been in favor of distancing the Republic from the French, chose this inopportune moment to secretly approach the King of Prussia as a mediator, with a scheme in which the Hereditary Prince was to become a kind of constitutional monarch in a constitution on the model of the American Constitution. The Republic would revert to its traditional neutrality, while Britain would occupy North Holland, and France Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

. The overture was rejected, and it caused a lot of embarrassment in the relations with the French Directoire. At this time Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 performed his coup of 18 Brumaire
18 Brumaire
The coup of 18 Brumaire was the coup d'état by which General Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the French Directory, replacing it with the French Consulate...

, establishing the French Consulate
French Consulate
The Consulate was the government of France between the fall of the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire in 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire in 1804...

. The Franco-Batavian relations now entered a whole new era.

Pressure for constitutional reform

Though Napoleon had a warlike reputation, his policies in his first years as First Consul were aimed at restoring peace in Europe, be it at terms favorable to France. The animus of the members of the Second Coalition was mostly against the French Revolution, its ideas and its consequences. By this time Napoleon himself was convinced of their perfidy. Talleyrand and Napoleon therefore saw a possibility of a compromise, in which France would retain its chain of docile client states, but with the "revolutionary" sting removed, to appease the Allies. That unrevolutionary docility was to be assured by constitutions designed to eliminate not only domestic conflict (as was the new French political order), but also any flashes of impertinent nationalism. France therefore embarked on a program of constitutional reform in the dependent republics, first in the Helvetic Republic
Helvetic Republic
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then consisted mainly of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance, and conquered territories such as Vaud...

, where Napoleon as Mediator imposed the Constitution of Malmaison in 1801 (followed by the Second Helvetic Constitution a year later), restoring the old confederal order.

A similar "solution" seemed appropriate for the Batavian Republic. The Batavian government, and its constitution, were particularly disliked by the Consul (no friend of democracy in any case), because of the snub that Amsterdam bankers gave in 1800 to his request for a big loan at the usual generous rate of interest the French expected as a matter of right. He blamed the Uitvoerend Bewind for this, and many other foibles, like undermining the boycott of British goods. To remedy these ills, a new Batavian constitution on the political principles of the Consulate (union, authority, political office for men of ability and social station) was needed. The new French ambassador Charles Louis Huguet, marquis de Sémonville
Charles Louis Huguet, marquis de Sémonville
Charles Louis Huguet, marquis de Sémonville was a French diplomat and politician. He was made a count of the First French Empire in 1808, and marquis in 1819.-Biography:...

 he sent to The Hague in 1799 was just the man for this job.

Meanwhile, even the minds of reformers like Gogel had become receptive to the need for change. The frustrations of the stalemate between unitarist reformers and democratically elected federalist obstructionists had caused a certain disillusionment with democratic politics in the former (the latter were already convinced). An alliance was therefore forming between the would-be reformers, who would like to finally push their reforms through, by "Bonapartist" means, if necessary, and the people who wished to restore the old federal order, in the hands of the old regent class. Director Besier in particular was amenable to a project that would extend executive power (and curtail that of the Assembly), and revert the constitution to federal devolution. With the help of Sémonville he now started to push a project of constitutional reform that followed the French Constitution of the Year VIII
Constitution of the Year VIII
The Constitution of the Year VIII was a national constitution of France, adopted December 24, 1799 , which established the form of government known as the Consulate...

 in important respects: a bicameral legislature would be appointed by a "National College" (akin to the French Senate) from a list of names produced by a convoluted system of national elections. This met with little enthusiasm by two of the other Directors François Ermerins and Jan Hendrik van Swinden, and by the Representative Assembly, that rejected the project on June 11, 1801, by fifty votes to twelve.

The Augereau-coup

The majority in the Uitvoerend Bewind (Gerrit Pijman in particular) therefore amended the project in a sense that gave re-federalization even more emphasis. They unilaterally convened the primary assemblies by a proclamation on September 14, 1801, have a referendum on this new draft-constitution
Batavian Republic constitutional referendum, 1801
A constitutionial referendum was held in the Batavian Republic in 1801After a previous referendum in 1798 resulted in a new constitution, the French were not satisfied with this constitution, and under their influence a new constitution was written....

. The Assembly defiantly ruled this proclamation illegal on September 18. Then general Augereau (he of the Fructidor-coup), now commander-in-chief of the French forces in the Netherlands, routinely closed the doors of the Assembly (by previous arrangement with Pijman) on September 19, and arrested the dissident Directors. Despite this military putsch the campaign for the plebiscite was conducted in an atmosphere of political freedom unthinkable in France. Nevertheless, this did not result in great enthusiasm for the new constitution. When the votes were counted on October 1, out of 416,619 voters only 16,771 voted in favor and 52,219 against. The Directors then used a sleight of hand that unfortunately would grow familiar in the Dutch constitutional politics of the successor states also:
they counted the 350,000 abstentions as "tacit affirmations."

Other than the coup of June, 1798, the Augereau-coup did present a sharp break with the recent past. The new constitution reduced the role of the legislative branch (which now did not have the right of initiative), and expanded the powers of the Executive, which was now known as the Staatsbewind (Regency of State). The elective principle was reduced to a formality: the Staatsbewind, originally consisting of the three directors taking part in the coup, expanded its membership by co-optation to twelve. This executive then appointed the first 35 members of the legislature. As vacancies arose, these were filled, as far as possible, on a provincial rota and according to national quotas of representatives of each province (much like the old States-General). Except for Holland, the old provinces were reconstituted. The local and provincial administrative organs continued to be elected, but no longer by universal manhood suffrage, but by a system of census suffrage.

Most important was the change in personnel of these organs, mostly as a consequence of this electoral change. The "democrats" were mostly replaced by the Patriot regents, who had no patience with democracy, and the old Orangist regents, who did not even have to disguise their allegiance as in early 1801 a convenient amnesty was proclaimed. One surprising example is Egbert Sjuck Gerrold Juckema van Burmania Rengers, the Orangist burgomaster
Burgomaster is the English form of various terms in or derived from Germanic languages for the chief magistrate or chairman of the executive council of a sub-national level of administration...

 of Leeuwarden before 1795, a notorious reactionary. To sum up: the coup had been a counter-revolution. This was made clear in the way the iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 of the 1795 revolution was done away with: the epigraph
Epigraph (literature)
In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional...

 Vrijheid, Gelijkheid, Broederschap (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) which had adorned all official publications, was henceforth removed, and the last Liberty Tree
Liberty Tree
The Liberty Tree was a famous elm tree that stood in Boston near Boston Common, in the days before the American Revolution. Ten years before the American Revolution, colonists in Boston staged the first act of defiance against the British government at the tree...

s were removed from the town squares. Soon the "good old days" of nepotism and venality were restored. Equally, though the abolition of the guilds formally remained, in practice regulation of crafts and trades was reimposed by local ordinances.

Peace negotiations

Against this background the negotiations for the Treaty of Amiens started in October 1801. The minor participants in the negotiations between Great Britain and France (the Batavian Republic and Spain) were immediately presented with faits accomplis: the preliminary agreement ceded Ceylon, and guaranteed free English shipping to the Cape of Good Hope, without the Dutch even being consulted. The Dutch ambassador in France, Schimmelpenninck, who acted as the Dutch plenipotentiary
The word plenipotentiary has two meanings. As a noun, it refers to a person who has "full powers." In particular, the term commonly refers to a diplomat fully authorized to represent his government as a prerogative...

, vainly protested that the Treaty of The Hague had guaranteed the Dutch colonies, and that France had promised not to make a separate peace. After this separate peace had been concluded, the British were left to negotiate with the minor French allies separately. This did not mean that the Dutch were completely left to their own devices: whenever French interests seemed to be in danger, France decisively intervened on its own behalf, as in the attempt to deduct the value of the Dutch fleet, surrendered in 1799, that the British had purchased from the Stadtholder, from the indemnification
An indemnity is a sum paid by A to B by way of compensation for a particular loss suffered by B. The indemnitor may or may not be responsible for the loss suffered by the indemnitee...

 of the Prince of Orange.

That indemnification was an important sideshow in the negotiations. The consequence of the Peace Treaty was that the Batavian Republic now received international recognition, even by the British government, and that the old Dutch Republic was now irreversibly dead. This put an end to all pretensions of the Stadtholder and his heirs, such as they were. It may be important to note that these pretensions were dubious to begin with. The Stadtholder was never the sovereign power in the Netherlands, despite understandable misconceptions by foreigners, who may have thought that a country needed a head of state, and the Stadtholder was it. Instead he was an officeholder, appointed by the provincial States, who also was captain-general and admiral-general of the Union (there was originally no stadtholder on the confederal level). In the Orangist revolution of 1747 this office had been revamped to "Stadhouder-generaal" and made hereditary, and after the Prussian intervention of 1787 the powers of the Stadtholder had become dictatorial. But formally the States-General had been sovereign since 1588, and the Stadtholder was merely their "first servant." The British may have entertained certain fantasies about his formal status, when it suited their purposes. An example would be the Kew Letters
Kew Letters
The Kew Letters were a number of letters, written by stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange between 30 January and 8 February 1795 from the "Dutch House" at Kew Palace, where he temporarily stayed after his flight to England on 18 January 1795...

 he was persuaded to write to the governors of the Dutch colonies in his capacity of captain-general on February 7, 1795, ordering them to immediately surrender those colonies to the British "for preservation." Another example would be their acceptance of the surrender of the Batavian fleet in the name of the Stadtholder in 1799, as though he was a sovereign prince. But this was all make-believe, and it ended with this Peace (though it was conveniently revived in 1813).

The Prince had reason to feel aggrieved by this. He did have large patrimonial estates in the Netherlands that now were forfeit. Besides, the loss of his hereditary offices entailed a loss of income. According to his own calculations the arrears in all these incomes since 1795 amounted to 4 million guilders. The Staatsbewind refused to pay this, or any sum, point blank, and the peace treaty specifically exempted the Dutch from paying anything. Instead, an arrangement between the French, British and Prussians (the former stadtholder's champions) in the matter was reached that in return for dropping any and all claims William was to be compensated with the abbatial domains of Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

 and Corvey Abbey
Corvey Abbey
The Imperial Abbey of Corvey was a Benedictine monastery on the River Weser, 2 km northeast of Höxter, now in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany....

 (see also Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda
Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda
Nassau-Orange-Fulda was the name of a short-lived principality of the Holy Roman Empire, which was created for the Prince of Orange and existed only from 1803 to 1806....


The short interlude of peace

The Treaty "generously" restored most of the colonies that had been lost to the British since 1795, except Ceylon, but including the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

. This now made the attempts in the Asiatic Council, which had replaced the Directorate of the VOC
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 in 1799, to reform the management of the colonies, more urgent. Dirk van Hogendorp was commissioned to write a proposal, that met with considerable enthusiasm from the more progressive elements on the council, like Samuel Iperusz. Wiselius
Samuel Iperusz. Wiselius
Samuel Iperusz, Knight Wiselius was a successful Dutch lawyer and a prominent Patriot and democrat, involved in the dismantling of the Dutch East India Company and the negotiations over the Cape. Wiselius was a witty, Voltairian spirit with political views far ahead of his time who would end his...

. He proposed to abolish all perquisites and sinecure
A sinecure means an office that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service...

s; to permit private trade; to permit native subjects to own private property; to substitute the "land levies" by a regulated land tax; and the abolition of all seigneurial rights in the colonies. This met with overwhelming resistance from vested interests. When a new Charter for the colonies was promulgated, Hogendorp's proposals had been whittled down to insignificance The vestigial democrats on the Council were now purged in favor of Orangist reactionaries like Hendrik Mollerus, and Hendrik Van Stralen. In any case, the Republic did not enjoy the possession of its colonies for long. After the resumption of hostilities in 1803 the returned colonies in most cases were soon reoccupied by the British. Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, however, held out till 1811.

Another potentially important consequence of the peace might have been that a number of provisions of the Treaty of The Hague, that had been conditional on a peace, like the reduction of the French army of occupation, would now have become operational. However, the First Consul proved reluctant to reduce the numbers of French troops, or return the port of Flushing, for the good of the Dutch as he pointed out, as they needed many of their own troops in their restored colonies, so the "protection" of the French troops was considered necessary. On the other hand, the departure of the French troops was an indispensable point for the British as they could not allow the Netherlands to be dominated by a hostile power, and the Batavian Republic was incapable of defending its own neutrality. This was to be an insoluble dilemma in the coming years.

Real advantages of the peace came in the economic field. As an open economy
Open economy
An open economy is an economy in which there are economic activities between domestic community and outside, e.g. people, including businesses, can trade in goods and services with other people and businesses in the international community, and flow of funds as investment across the border...

, the Republic needed unhindered trade. It was heavily dependent on exports of agricultural products to the British markets, and on its services sector (especially its large merchant fleet, and the banking sector), whereas its industry (whatever remained of it after a century of being confronted by foreign protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

) also was dependent on exports. All these sectors had suffered enormously from the war: the British blockade and French and British privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

ing had almost brought marine trade to a standstill, whereas a commercial treaty with France (which would have ended French discrimination of Dutch trade in industrial goods) proved an ever-receding fata morgana
Fata Morgana (mirage)
A Fata Morgana is an unusual and very complex form of mirage, a form of superior mirage, which, like many other kinds of superior mirages, is seen in a narrow band right above the horizon...

. True, much of the trade had shifted to flags of convenience (especially that of the U.S.A. and European neutrals
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 like Prussia), but the peace made the resurgence of the Dutch carrying trade fully practicable. Nevertheless, some changes proved irreversible, like the shift of trade patterns to German ports, and the decline of the fisheries.

Invasion preparations and economic warfare

In any case, the peace turned out to be of short duration. On May 18, 1803, slightly more than a year after the peace, war resumed. Napoleon was now intent on the destruction of Great Britain by the ambitious project of an invasion of England
Napoleon's invasion of England
Napoleon's planned invasion of the United Kingdom at the start of the War of the Third Coalition, although never carried out, was a major influence on British naval strategy and the fortification of the coast of south-east England. French attempts to invade Ireland in order to destabilise the...

. The Batavian Republic was to play a major supporting role in this. As a renewal of the Franco-Batavian alliance the Staatsbewind was forced to assent to a new "Convention" bringing the total of French and Batavian forces in the Netherlands to 35,000. In addition 9,000 Batavian troops were earmarked for the proposed expedition. Even more importantly, the Dutch were to supply, by December 1803, five ships-of-the-line, five frigates, 100 gun boats, and 250 flat-bottomed transport craft, capable of holding 60–80 men. In total the Dutch were meant to provide transport for 25,000 men and 2,500 horses; the major part of Napoleon's invasion "armada", and all at Dutch expense. It was all a fantasy on Napoleon's part, but this did not diminish the real burden it imposed on the finances of the Republic, and on its economy.

Another real burden was the economic warfare
Economic warfare
Economic warfare is the term for economic policies followed as a part of military operations during wartime.The purpose of economic warfare is to capture critical economic resources so that the military can operate at full efficiency and/or deprive the enemy forces of those resources so that they...

 that Napoleon launched against the British, and which was answered by a British counter-boycott. This was to foreshadow the Continental System
Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. It was a large-scale embargo against British trade, which began on November 21, 1806...

 which was formally enacted in 1806. However, already in 1803 it started to choke off the remaining Dutch trade.
Ostensibly, the Staatsbewind did its part by prohibiting the import of all enemy goods on July 5, 1803. Later it banned cheese exports and butter. These gestures were, however, of little practical effect: in 1804 the volume of general exports to Britain was nearly equal to that in the last year of peace: 1802. British goods reached Dutch destinations via neutral German ports, or disguised as "American cargo." The republic was therefore an important "keyhole into Europe" that undermined the economic sanctions against Britain. As the members of the Staatsbewind, and their friends, often profited from this clandestine trade directly, the patience of the French was wearing thin. Matters came to a head when the French commander in the Republic, Auguste de Marmont, ordered in November, 1804, that French coast guards and customs officials were to take over the responsibility for the surveillance of cargoes in Dutch ports, with powers of confiscation without reference to Dutch authorities. This was the last straw for the Staatsbewind. On November 23, 1804 they forbade any Batavian official to take orders from the French.

The last Grand Pensionary and the end of the Republic

This act of defiance sealed the fate of yet another of the Batavian regimes. Napoleon had long been dissatisfied with what he viewed as the foot-dragging and inefficiency of the Dutch. As a matter of fact, since the Spring of 1804 informal talks, mediated by Talleyrand, had been under way with the Batavian envoy in Paris, Schimmelpenninck
Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck
Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck , Lord of Nyenhuis, Peckedam and Gellicum, was a Dutch politician of the Batavian Republic and an investor in the Holland Land Company....

, who had a good personal rapport with Napoleon (by now emperor
First French Empire
The First French Empire , also known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire, was the empire of Napoleon I of France...

). Schimmelpenninck was a power in the Batavian Republic by himself. He had played an important role as the leader of the federalist opposition in the "revolutionary" States-General of 1795, and the first Assembly. Though an opponent of the radicals, he had politically survived the coups of 1798, and served as ambassador to France, and as plenipotentiary to the Amiens negotiations. Now Napoleon saw him as the person to clean the Augean stables
In Greek mythology, Augeas , whose name means "bright", was king of Elis and father of Epicaste. Some say that Augeas was one of the Argonauts....

 of the Dutch client state.

Schimmelpenninck saw himself in the same light. He had long had a woolly vision of a "national conciliation" in the Netherlands, that made him amenable to a rapprochement with conservative and Orangist circles. These were to become his power base. Though Schimmelpenninck was a convinced federalist, he was a pliable character also. When Napoleon indicated that he preferred a centralized organization of the Dutch state (as the re-federalized model of the Staatsbewind had clearly not worked out), he did not hesitate to implement this in his project of a new constitution, that he constructed in the Summer of 1804 in consultation with the Staatsbewind. As a matter of fact, a delegation of the Staatsbewind, consisting of Schimmelpenninck, and members of the Regency Van der Goes (the former Agent) and Van Haersolte (a former Director), presented the case for this draft to Napoleon in November, 1804. When the clash about the French customs men therefore took place later in the month, Napoleon came to a speedy decision and soon thereafter the Batavian Republic had a new constitution and government.

On May 10, 1805, Schimmelpenninck was therefore inaugurated as Raadpensionaris (Grand Pensionary) of the Batavian Republic. This venerable title (clearly chosen for sentimental reasons) had little connection with the former office of the States of Holland; as a matter of fact, the new office more resembled that of Stadtholder, though even William V, after 1787, had not possessed the powers Schimmelpenninck was to wield. His was a one-man Executive that would in no way be encumbered by the 19 man Legislative Corps, that had no powers apart from the Pensionary. The Pensionary conducted his business assisted by a Staatsraad, that resembled the French Conseil d'État more than the old Raad van State, and by Secretaries of State, who resembled the Agenten of the Uitvoerend Bewind. Of course, such an important change in the constitution had to receive the imprimatur of the popular will. A plebiscite was duly organized which elicited 14,903 Yes-votes (against 136 Noes) from an electorate of 353,322. The abstentions were counted as "tacit affirmatives" in the now well-established tradition.

Despite such unpromisingly reactionary trappings the Schimmelpenninck regime actually accomplished more in its short existence than the previous regimes had accomplished in the ten years since 1795. This was, of course, mainly due to the diligent preparatory work that Agents like the ubiquitous Gogel; Johannes Goldberg, for National Economy; and J.H. van der Palm, for National Education; had done.
Gogel's General Taxation Plan was finally enacted in June, 1805; a first government-approved attempt at unification of the Dutch spelling
History of Dutch orthography
The History of Dutch Orthography covers the changes in spelling of Dutch both in the Netherlands itself and in the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders in Belgium.- Dutch spelling in the Middle Ages :...

 was made; an embryonic Department of Agriculture and Department of Hydraulics were formed, to foreshadow the later government departments; even a Pharmacopeia Batavia started the regulation of drugs; and the School Law of 1806 organized a national system of public elementary education. Most importantly perhaps, the local-government law of July, 1805, founded the first Dutch system of public administration.

The French reaction to this flurry of reforms was mixed, however. The very zeal of the program might betoken a renascent nationalism that could work against French interests. The debacle of the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 had made it clear that the projected invasion had to be scrapped. The Dutch now began to clamor for economies in the form of the return of the Boulogne flotilla, which annoyed Napoleon, because he still had a use for it. The man who had led that flotilla to Boulogne Carel Hendrik Ver Huell
Carel Hendrik Ver Huell
Carel Hendrik count Ver Huell was a Dutch, and later French, admiral and statesman. He married Maria Johanna de Bruyn on 22 February 1789 at Hummelo, and had three sons with her....

, was now Secretary for the Navy. He had also become a confidant of the emperor, and now engaged in a secret correspondence with Talleyrand and Napoleon. The latter had just concluded the Peace of Pressburg
Peace of Pressburg
The Peace of Pressburg refers to four peace treaties concluded in Pressburg . The fourth Peace of Pressburg of 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars is the best-known.-First:...

 and was busy dividing up Europe in client-kingdoms apportioned to his relatives. He saw a good candidate for such a position in the Netherlands in his brother Louis Bonaparte
Louis Bonaparte
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, Comte de Saint-Leu , King of Holland , was the fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino...


Ver Huell started scheming with his French patrons behind the back of Schimmelpenninck and feeding negative information about the Pensionary that found its way into the French press. Schimmelpenninck's position was weakened by the fact that he was slowly going blind. The Dutch Secretaries of State and the Staatsraad could read the writing on the wall. They were faced with Hobson's choice: either a complete extinguishing of the national identity in the form of annexation to the Empire, or the lesser evil of a new kingdom under one of Napoleon's relatives. A Groot Besogne (Grand Commission) was formed to conduct the unequal negotiations with the Emperor. The latter, however, refused to speak with the Commission, and only communicated to them through the intermediary of Ver Huell. Talleyrand had meanwhile drafted a "Treaty" which contained the conditions under which the crown of "Holland" was to be offered to Louis: no union of the crowns; no conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

; a possible commercial treaty with France; and the basic freedoms of the Netherlands (linguistic, religious, judicial) were to be maintained; while the civil list
Civil list
-United Kingdom:In the United Kingdom, the Civil List is the name given to the annual grant that covers some expenses associated with the Sovereign performing their official duties, including those for staff salaries, State Visits, public engagements, ceremonial functions and the upkeep of the...

 was fixed at the "modest sum" of 1.5 million guilders. The constitution of the Pensionary was actually to be maintained with a few minor alterations (the title of raadpensionaris changed to that of King; and the size of the Staatsraad and the legislative corps nearly doubled).

The Commission was not allowed to refer back to The Hague. Schimmelpenninck made a last-ditch attempt to have the treaty referred to a plebiscite, but he was ignored. He resigned on June 4, 1806. The next day in St. Cloud, after Napoleon had kept them waiting while he received the Turkish ambassador, the hapless commissioners presented their "petition" to Louis to accept the crown of "Holland", which he graciously did, while Napoleon looked on avuncularly.


The Kingdom of Holland
Kingdom of Holland
The Kingdom of Holland 1806–1810 was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the Netherlands. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country...

 lasted only four years. Though Louis performed his role beyond all expectations, and did his best to defend the interests of his subjects, this was exactly the reason why Napoleon decided that the Netherlands could no longer be denied the blessings of being reunited with his Empire, though over the objections of Louis. Louis abdicated on July 2, 1810 in favor of his son Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoléon Louis Bonaparte , or Louis II of Holland, was the middle son of Louis Napoléon, King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais. His father was the younger brother of Emperor Napoléon I and king of Holland, while his mother was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoléon's first wife...

, who reigned for ten days. Then the Netherlands were finally reunited with the origins of the "alluvial deposits of the French rivers," of which the country in the view of Napoleon consists. This reunion did not outlast the effects of the disastrous French invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

, and the Battle of Leipzig
Battle of Leipzig
The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations, on 16–19 October 1813, was fought by the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden against the French army of Napoleon. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine...

. The Empire melted away, and the independent Netherlands took shape again with every city that the retreating French army of occupation evacuated in the course of 1813.
In the ensuing political vacuum a triumvirate of former Orangist regents, led by Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp
Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp
Gijsbert Karel, Count van Hogendorp was a conservative Dutch statesman. He was the brother of Dirk van Hogendorp the elder and the father of Dirk van Hogendorp the younger....

, invited the former Hereditary Prince (the old Stadtholder had died in 1806) to assume power as "Sovereign Prince." William VI of Orange landed in Scheveningen on November 30, 1813. He duly established control in the Netherlands and was offered the crown of the combined area of the former 17 provinces of the Netherlands (modern Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 and the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

) by the Allies in the secret London Protocol (also known as the Eight Articles of London
Eight Articles of London
The Eight Articles of London, also known as the London Protocol of June 21, 1814, were a secret convention between the Great Powers: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Prussia, Austria, and Russia to award the territory of current Belgium and The Netherlands to William I of the...

) of June 21, 1814, which he accepted exactly one month later. On March 16, 1815 the United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands
United Kingdom of the Netherlands is the unofficial name used to refer to Kingdom of the Netherlands during the period after it was first created from part of the First French Empire and before the new kingdom of Belgium split out in 1830...

 was proclaimed.

Historiographical note

According to the British historian Simon Schama
Simon Schama
Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

 the Batavian Republic has been controversially treated by historians. After the end of the Nazi-Occupation of the Netherlands during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 there were some who saw a historical parallel between the N.S.B
National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands
The National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands was a Dutch fascist and later national socialist political party. As a parliamentary party participating in legislative elections, the NSB had some success during the 1930s...

 and the Patriot revolutionaries, while they pictured William V in the heroic role of Queen Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Wilhelmina was Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. She ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial...

 and her government-in-exile. Dutch historian Pieter Geyl
Pieter Geyl
Pieter Catharinus Arie Geyl was a Dutch historian, well-known for his studies in early modern Dutch history and in historiography.-Background:...

 opposed such comparisons in his Patriotten en NSBers: een historische parallel (1946).

Still, by that time the Batavians had already had a bad press in Dutch history writing. This may be explained by the fact that the ages-old ideological struggle between the monarchically oriented Orangist party and its successive opponents of a more "republican" bent (going back to at least the conflict between Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and Prince Maurice
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange
Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange was sovereign Prince of Orange from 1618, on the death of his eldest half brother, Philip William, Prince of Orange,...

), of which the Patriots were only the latest incarnation, was being refought in the standard works of 19th-century Dutch historians like Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer
Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer
Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer , Dutch politician and historian, was born at Voorburg, near the Hague.-Overview:...

, who saw plenty to despise in the "popular-sovereignty" philosophy of the Patriot radicals. In his turn Groen was very influential on the way John Lothrop Motley
John Lothrop Motley
John Lothrop Motley was an American historian and diplomat.-Biography:...

 depicted the old Dutch Republic for an American audience. Motley did not get to deal explicitly with the Batavian Republic, but the way his collaborator William Elliot Griffis
William Elliot Griffis
William Elliot Griffis was an American orientalist, Congregational minister, lecturer, and prolific author....

 dismissed the Patriots speaks for itself:"...whether under the name of the 'Batavian Republic', the Kingdom of Holland, or the provinces of the French empire, the French occupation was virtually a French conquest that had little permanent influence on Dutch history or character."

However most, if not all, characteristics of the current centralized state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 were foreshadowed by the accomplishments of the Batavian Republic, not least the liberal 1848 Constitution. That constitution restored the central tenets of the democratic Staatsregeling of 1798, under the guise of a Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, as its author Johan Rudolf Thorbecke acknowledged.


  • Israel, J.I.
    Jonathan Israel
    Professor Jonathan Irvine Israel is a British writer on Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jewry. Israel was appointed the Modern European History Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Township, New Jersey, U.S...

     (1995), The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477-1806, Oxford University Press,ISBN 0-19-873072-1 hardback, ISBN 0-19-820734-4 paperback
  • Schama, S.
    Simon Schama
    Simon Michael Schama, CBE is a British historian and art historian. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain...

    (1977), Patriots and Liberators. Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813, New York, Vintage books, ISBN 0-679-72949-6
  • Vries, J. de, and Woude, A. van der (1997), The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-57825-7

External links

Staatsregeling voor het Bataafsche Volk
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