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Pamphleteering and political protest, Dutch Republic, 1672

J. M. F. Daudeij


The political pamphlet gives us an insight into seventeenth-century ideas about the relation between citizens and their government in the Dutch Republic and the use of language in political protest. Although the relationship was like that of master over servant, inhabitants of the towns who were able to obtain formal citizenship were more than just subjects. Citizenship, to quote Charles Tilly, may be defined as the “continuing series of transactions between persons and agents of a given state in which each has enforceable rights and obligations” (1995: 8). Besides paying taxes, citizens had duties such as defending the town or restoring order as members of the militia. This gave them a certain power because the regents who governed the cities relied on their loyalty. In return, those in power had to protect the rights of the citizens and foster their interests. A citizen also had access to a guild, an institution that offered protection against the uncertainties of the capitalizing society. The most important function of late medieval institutions like the guilds, the militia, and the restricted form of citizenship was that in times of protest, citizens could claim to have certain legal rights, including influence in the election of regents ( van Zanden & Prak 2006 ). Protesters saw themselves not as a rebellious mob, but as defenders of their legal rights against tyrannous ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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