In 1966 the National Library purchased two collections of Dutch pamphlets from the antiquarian bookseller Martinus Nijhoff of The Hague.


The larger of the two collections consists of 953 pamphlets published in the Netherlands between 1567 and 1852. The great majority of the works are in Dutch, but there are a small number of works in English, French, German and Latin.

Although the collection spans a period of nearly three centuries, its great strength lies in the seventeenth century, ‘the golden century’ in Dutch history. Of the 953 pamphlets, 821 were published in that century and a particularly large number appeared in the period 1670-1700. The pamphlets deal primarily with political, diplomatic, military and legal matters. The earliest document the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) and the formation of the Dutch Republic (United Provinces) by the northern provinces in 1581. They refer to particular events, such as the siege of Leiden by Spanish troops in 1573-74, and to some of the leading figures in the War, such as the first Stadholder, Prince William of Orange, his son and successor Prince Maurice of Nassau, the Duke of Leicester, the Duke of Parma and the Duke of Alba.

The seventeenth century works include a large number of official documents, such as decrees, resolutions of the States-General and provincial assemblies, political and diplomatic letters, treaties, memorials, and court decisions and sentences. There are many pamphlets on the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54), the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-74), the Grand Pensionaries Johan de Witt (1653-72) and Gaspar Fagel (1672-88), the murder of Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis in 1672, and the exploits of the admirals Maarten Tromp and Michiel de Ruyter. A number of pamphlets deal with events in England under Oliver Cromwell and the Stuarts, the downfall of King James II in 1688, and the invasion by Dutch forces under the Stadholder, William of Orange, who was crowned William III of England in 1689. Other subjects include relations with the Spanish Netherlands, France and other European powers, shipping, trade, public finance, colonies, and the affairs of the various provinces and cities.

Some of the post-1700 pamphlets, which are relatively few in number, also deal with political events, including the rise of the Patriots in the 1780s. There are also works on ancient history and classical literature, religion and the Protestant churches in the Netherlands, the Dutch East India Company, and the Dutch Royal Family.

The second collection comprises 145 pamphlets published in the Netherlands between 1796 and 1806. They document aspects of the administration of the Batavian Republic which was established in 1795 by the Patriots, with the support of French forces. The pamphlets are all government publications and deal with taxes, imports and exports, school regulations, rights of free assemblage, the establishment of a national loan office, freedom from taxes for brewers and distillers, the release of deserters, and the conversion of bonds. The collection is entitled Publicaties, notificaties etc. van het uitvoorend bewind der Bataafsche Republiek.


Both collections of Dutch pamphlets are kept in the Rare Books Collection. The 1567-1852 collection is housed in 31 large boxes and is shelved at RBf 949.204 D975. The pamphlets are filed chronologically in the order of the catalogue of pamphlets in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, compiled by W.P.C. Knuttel in 1889-1920. The Batavian Republic pamphlets are housed in four boxes and shelved at RBq MISC 1993. The pamphlets have been individually catalogued.


Knuttel, W.P.C., Catalogus van de pamfletten-verzameling berustende in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 9 vols, s’Gravenhage, Algemeene Landsdrukkerij, 1889-1920 [Reprint: Utrecht, HES Publishers, 1978]

Schama, Simon, Patriots and liberators: revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813, New York, Knopf, 1977