A Quest for Origins and a Battle over Principles: Dutch Reformation Commemorations in the 19th Century

Hľadanie pôvodu a bitka o princípy: Holandské pripomínanie si reformácie počas 19. storočia.

This essay is a first exploration of nineteenth-century Dutch Protestant memory culture. Using Reformation commemorations as our case study, we show that the appropriation of Luther and Calvin for group identity purposes underwent a twofold transition in the century between 1817 and 1917. Whereas the unity of Dutch Protestantism was a dominant theme during the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Reformation became increasingly used as an instrument for justifying subgroup identities. Simultaneously, a past-oriented discourse (the Reformation as 'origin') was gradually abandoned in favour of a future-oriented discourse (Reformation 'principles' that ought to be obeyed and applied). This, we argue, distinguished Dutch Protestant memory culture both from national commemorative discourse and from Protestant memory cultures abroad.