Chamber of rhetoric

Chamber of rhetoric

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Chambers of rhetoric were dramatic societies in the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

. Their members are called Rederijkers (singular - Rederijker), from the french
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word 'rh√©toricien', and during the 15th and 16th centuries were mainly interested in dramas and lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

. These societies were closely connected with local civic leaders and their public plays were a form of early public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 for the city.


The first chambers of rhetoric were founded in Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 around the 15th century; they later flowered in Holland, where they were an important part of the literary scene in the Dutch 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...

 and experimented with poetic form and structure. Most Dutch cities sponsored a chamber of rhetoric, and many cities had more than one, which competed with each other during prize contests. The building that currently houses the Frans Hals Museum
Frans Hals Museum
The Frans Hals Museum is a hofje and municipal museum in Haarlem, Netherlands. The museum was founded in 1862 in the newly renovated former cloister located in the back of the Haarlem city hall known as the Prinsenhof...

 was built with the proceeds of a lottery in which chambers of rhetoric participated from all over the country. The Haarlem society Trou moet Blycken
Trou moet Blycken
Trou Moet Blycken is a historical chamber of rhetoric over 500 years old and currently a gentlemen's club on the Grote Houtstraat in Haarlem, Netherlands.-History:...

 still has many of the blazoens that it kept as host of that lottery.

At the start of the 16th century, Antwerp had three rederijker societies, the "Violieren
The Violieren was a chamber of rhetoric that dates back to the 15th century in Antwerp, when it was the social drama society of the Guild of St. Luke. In 1660 it merged with its former rival "Olijftak", and in 1762 the society was dissolved altogether.-History:Much of what is known today about...

", the "Olijftak", and the "Goudbloem", while Brussels and Ghent each had four rederijker societies. A notable similar fraternity that began in the 17th century was the Guild of Romanists
Guild of Romanists
The Guild of Romanists was a 16th and 17th century society in Antwerp for humanist and artists; it was a condition of membership that the member had visited Rome. Deans were appointed annually. It was "where 'art-pilgrims' met to keep themselves up to date on news from Rome, whether it be new...

 in Antwerp, of which many leading artists were members. This fraternity was not

An important chamber of rhetoric in the Netherlands was "De Egelantier
De Eglantier was a chamber of rhetoric in Amsterdam that arose in 1517 or 1518, possibly as a continuation of older chambers of rhetoric. It is one of the most famous chambers of rhetoric...

" in Amsterdam: Coster
Samuel Coster
Samuel Coster was a Dutch playwright.Coster was the fifth child of Adriaen Lennaertz, sexton and carpenter, and Aeltgen Jansd. By around 1605, he was a member of the Amsterdam rederijkerskamer "De Eglantier". Presumably he was helped into the society by rich friends, but then got himself to...

, Bredero
Gerbrand Adriaensz Bredero
Gerbrand Adriaensz Bredero was a Dutch poet and playwright in the period known as the Dutch Golden Age.-Life:...

, Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft - Knight in the Order of Saint Michael - was a Dutch historian, poet and playwright from the period known as the Dutch Golden Age.-Life:...

 and Roemer Visscher
Roemer Visscher
Roemer Pieterszoon Visscher was a successful Dutch merchant and writer in the period often called the Dutch Golden Age.-Life:...

 were all members of this society. During the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 the society sided with the reformers against the city government and enjoyed its most blooming period despite receiving very little funding from official sources.

Because many of the rederijkers were by definition amateurs, the literary quality of their work was often rather low, and in the 18th century, some chambers of rhetoric were spoken of with contempt. Some of their successful works that came from the Rederijkers included: The play Elckerlijc
Elckerlijc is a Dutch morality play which was written somewhere around the year 1470 and was originally printed in 1495. It was extremely successful and may have been the original source for the English play Everyman, as well as many other translations for other countries...


See also

  • Medieval Dutch literature
    Medieval Dutch literature
    Medieval Dutch literature is the Dutch literature produced in the Low Countries from the earliest stages of the language up to the sixteenth century.-Early stages:...

  • Dutch literature
    Dutch literature
    Dutch literature comprises all writings of literary merit written through the ages in the Dutch language, a language which currently has around 23 million native speakers...

  • Flemish literature
    Flemish literature
    Flemish literature is literature from Flanders, historically a region comprising parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Until the early 19th century, this literature was regarded as an integral part of Dutch literature...