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Dutch Pamphlets 1486-1853: The Knuttel Collection
The Knuttel Collection at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, is the most extensive pamphlet collection in the Netherlands. It consist of roughly 34,000 pamphlets ranging from political apologies and manifestoes to tracts for and against predestination in theology. Battles, sieges, treaties, riots, and political assassinations form the subject matter of many pamphlets. Domestic issues of all sorts are commented upon or caricatured, sometimes in rhyme, and political events outside the Lowlands are chronicled as well. Tracts on astrological predictions and the appearance of comets permit the study of popular culture and mentalities. In short, historians of all sorts can draw on these texts for their research.

W.P.C. Knuttel
The collection incorporates all pamphlets from 1486 to 1853 in the collection of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek which have been cataloged by Willem Pieter Cornelis Knuttel (1854-1921). His Catalogus van de pamfletten-verzameling berustende in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek was published in 9 volumes between 1889 and 1920.

The majority of the pamphlets are in Dutch but there are also texts in French, German, Latin, and English.

The bibliographic descriptions in the on-line catalog on this website derive from both W.P.C. Knuttel's catalog and the Short-Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN). Subject headings are in English.

Historical background: the years 1486-1648
The period from 1486 to 1648 was of crucial significance for the history of the Low Countries and the present Dutch State. This period first witnessed the consolidation of seventeen quite disparate provinces under the hegemony of the Habsburg Monarchy. Later, the Revolt of the Netherlands against the Spanish Habsburg King Philip II led in the course of eighty years of warfare to the establishment of the Republic of the United Provinces, the forerunner of the modern Netherlands State. The Southern Netherlands - now the modern states of Belgium and Luxembourg - continued under Habsburg dominion. Inextricably bound up with these developments on the political level was the history of the Reformation in the Low Countries. The successful implantation of Calvinist Protestantism in the North and the triumph of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in the South were recognized in 1648 in the Treaty of Munster, which ended the Eighty Years' War.

The years 1649-1750
After the official recognition of its independence in 1648 the Dutch Republic quickly established itself as an economic, political and military power in Europe and a formidable contender in the struggle for trade and glory overseas. The second half of the seventeenth century was a golden age for the Dutch. Economic rivalry with England led to several naval wars, but in 1689, the Dutch Stadtholder William of Orange was invited to assume the throne of that country after the Glorious Revolution had driven James II from power. In the disaster year of 1672 French and other armies penetrated deep into Dutch territory, exacerbating the internal conflict between the States and Orangist parties that led to the murder of the Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his brother by a mob in The Hague. The Republic survived this ordeal, recovered and prospered. The eighteenth century brought a relative eclipse of the Republic on the European stage and the beginnings of the reforming Patriots movement at home.

The years 1751-1853
Dutch pamphlet-writing in the second half of the eighteenth century was dominated on the home front by the struggle between the conservative Orange 'party' and the reformist 'Patriots', a conflict which culminated in near revolution in 1787, and by the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-84) between the Dutch Republic and Great Britain. Meanwhile, milestones of international history such as the American War of Independence and the French Revolution did not pass unnoticed.

The turn of the century witnessed the transformation of the worn-out Dutch Republic into a modern state through the French invasion of 1795, the formation of a semi-independent Batavian Republic and Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland, the annexation by France and finally the creation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as we know it today, under the restored House of Orange in 1813-1815.

The Belgian insurrection of 1830 and the political reforms of 1848 were the principle events of the next forty years to form the basis for discussion, while many pamphlets were devoted to subjects such as the colonies and slavery, the introduction of railway transport, the discovery of smallpox vaccine and the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy.

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