Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In contrast to events in France, revolutionary changes in the Netherlands occurred comparatively peacefully. The country had been a republic for two centuries and had a limited nobility. The guillotine proved unnecessary to the new state. The old Republic had been a very archaic and ineffective political construction. Decision-making had proceeded very slowly and sometimes did not happen at all. The individual provinces had possessed so much power that they blocked many sensible innovations. The Batavian Republic marked the transition to a more centralised and functional government. Many of its innovations were retained in later times.
Again in contrast to France, the new Republic did not experience a terror regime or lapse into dictatorship. Changes were imposed from outside after Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power. In 1805 Napoleon installed the shrewd politician Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck as raadspensionaris ("councillor pensionary", i.e. president of the republic) to strengthen the executive branch. In 1806 Napoleon forced Schimmelpenninck to resign and declared his brother Louis Bonaparte king of the new Kingdom of Holland.
The only signs of political instability were a pair of coups. The first coup occurred in 1798, when revolutionary commanders were annoyed by the slow pace of democratic reforms (the National Assembly, convened in 1796, was divided by faction struggle). The second coup occurred in 1801, when a French commander, backed by Napoleon, staged a conservative coup reversing changes made after the 1798 coup.
See also: Batavia
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