The Presentation of the Eighty Years’ War in the Middle and Higher Educational Systems in the Netherlands

Publication type Article
Status Published
EditionVolume 5 Issue 6 (29)
AbstractThis article, written from a personal point of view of a Dutchman, having gone through the entire educational system of the Netherlands, from elementary school to university, aims to discuss the approach and hence the presentation of the Eighty years’ war at schools in The Netherlands. The author explains the inadequacy of calling the Eighty year’s war a “bourgeois revolution” as is being done in the Soviet-Russian historiographic tradition, pointing out how the term “revolution” is being perceived in Dutch society, given the durable predomination of religious sentiments there. The vast majority of the Dutch conceived the very phenomenon revolution as a rebellion against God, an overthrow of the divine world order. Since the background of the Eighty year’s war, again from a religion orientated point of view, was mainly of confessional nature, the term “revolution” is for many still incompatible with the events having occurred in the XVIth and XVIIth century in The Netherlands. Furthermore the specific aspects of the Dutch educational system are reviewed; as a result of the strong influence of both Calvinism and Catholicism on Dutch society and on Dutch political life in particular, a unique situation emerged in The Netherlands, with both state and confessional schools. This had a serious impact on the way the Eighty year’s war was being presented at state and confessional schools, due to the religious sentiments connected to it. It is obvious that catholic school programs tended to emphasize different issues and events than protestant school programs would do. Also it is quite remarkable that the way the Eighty year’s war was being presented at state schools was in fact closer to protestant views. However this can be explained by the domination of Calvinists in the Dutch establishment and their significant influence on social and political life for about three centuries. The Eighty year’s war was often being handled as a period in history that laid the foundation for the future state of The Netherlands. However for the last fifty years there is a strong tendency of moving from a patriotic to a neutral presentation of these historical events.
KeywordsThe Netherlands, Eighty year’s war, revolution, calvinism, catholicism, education, Dutch politics, confessionalism
Publication date10.11.2014
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