The persistence of civic identities in the Netherlands, 1747-1848


Scholars believe that civic identities in Europe transformed in the century from 1750 to 1850 and that new notions of national identity emerged. The Netherlands were no exception; this century saw 'the emergence of a modern Dutch national identity'. Yet while it is undeniable that the political structure of the Netherlands was transformed, the central hypothesis of this project is that older civic identities did not wither as new ones emerged. The national state employed a labour force of just over a 1000, and suffered from a permanent lack of resources. Everyday government depended on the initiative and cooperation of people in the provinces, towns and villages, which had a long tradition of doing things their own way. This makes it likely that there was a continued identification with the local and provincial communities. We propose (1) that one of the main preconditions for 'modern' political changes was continuity, (2) that the scholarly focus on the national level has obscured crucial continuities at the local and regional level, and (3) that we need to study these continuities in order to understand the development of civic identities in the Netherlands between 1747-1848. Like historians before us we will concentrate on the themes of civic 'dentity' and 'politics', but we will not investigate these at the level of the new nation state. Instead, our three subprojects focus on what had been the loci of civic identity before 1795: (a) urban communities (b) provinces, and (c) the individuals who identified with them, individually or collectively.


Chapter in book

  • J. Oddens, A. Bos(2017): pp. 19 - 30 , Amsterdam
  • M. Van Ginderachter, J. Oddens(2018): pp. nak - nak
  • K. Davids, C. Hoetink, D. Smit(2018): Wereldgeschiedenis in Nederland pp. nak - nak , Amsterdam
  • C. Boender, P. Clark(2018): Subaltern City. Alternative and peripheral urban spaces in the pre-modern period pp. nak - nak , Turnhout
  • D. Smit, J. Van den Berg(2018): De gemeenteraad. Ontstaan en ontwikkeling van de lokale democratie pp. nak - nak , Amsterdam

Scientific article

Professional publication

  • C. Boender(2018): Vroegmoderne natiebeelden

Publication meant for a broad audience

  • J. Oddens(0): 1782. Massaal op de bres voor de VS
  • C. Boender(2015): Stedelijk patriottisme: Haarlem als centrum van de kosmos
  • D. Smit(2017): De Hollandsche Verkiezingsroman. Een vergeten genre uit de literatuurgeschiedenis pp. 55 - 68
  • C. Boender, A. Petterson(2018): Op een voetstuk: herdenken in Holland
  • C. Boender(2018): Het mysterie Cornelia Catharina Hodshon

Publications for the general public

  • J.S. Pollmann, H. Te Velde(2016): Position paper Civic Engagement
  • C. Boender(2016): Urban periphery and the creation of a civic identity in eighteenth-century Haarlem
  • H. Te Velde, J.S. Pollmann(2017): ‘Inleiding’


Project number


Main applicant

Prof. dr. J.S. Pollmann

Affiliated with

Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden University Institute for History

Team members

C. Boender, Dr. J. Oddens, Dr. D.E.J. Smit, Dr. D.E.J. Smit


01/07/2015 to 30/06/2020