This thesis deals with the use of the concepts fatherland and patriot (and patria and nation) in seventeenth-century Dutch pamphlets. It focuses on specific years of crisis, when the Dutch Republic came close to disintegration. Three of the most significant political conflicts of the seventeenth century have been selected: the so-called Truce controversies during the Twelve Years’ Truce (Bestandstwisten), especially in the years 1618-1619, the conflict between stadholder Willem II on one side and the province of Holland and Amsterdam on the other in 1650, and the ‘Year of Disaster’, 1672. In these years of turmoil groups with different religious and political beliefs stood in opposition. What these groups had in common was their use of the pamphlet as the main medium to spread their opinions. Hundreds of pamphlets were written and printed each year in the seventeenth century and in periods of political unrest even more were published. From the selected four years all pamphlets available in the largest Dutch pamphlet collection have been analysed. This study shows that the rhetoric of fatherland was prominent in Dutch pamphlets in the seventeenth century. It was used in more than 50 percent of the analysed pamphlets. The concept used most frequently was fatherland, followed by patriot (and later also nation). Both fatherland and patriot had already been used during the first years of the Dutch Revolt as part of an anti-Spanish rhetoric, and during the years of crisis in the seventeenth century, they were again utilised in religious and political conflicts, but now between the Dutch themselves. In the pamphlets, the concepts functioned to legitimize actions, justify criticism, mobilize support, activate readers, defend against accusations or back-up one’s position.

Dutch Republic, conceptual history, pamphlets, patriotism, rhetoric of fatherland
R.C.F. von Friedeburg (Robert)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Vroomen, I.H. (2012, May 15). Taal van de Republiek. Het gebruik van vaderlandretoriek in Nederlandse pamfletten, 1618-1672 . Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from