Michael Wintle

The role played by the Calvinist faith in the Revolt against Spain has ensured that Dutch religious history in the time of the Republic is relatively familiar outside its borders; the same is not true of the nineteenth century. None the less, two features stand out in the period between the defeat of Napoleon and the First World War: the complex variety of denominations which existed, especially amongst the orthodox Calvinists, and the growth of a system of 'pillarisation' or verzuiling, which involved the institutionalisation of those denominations in a plethora of civil society organisations. This half of the chapter will provide an account of developments in church history and theology in the Netherlands in the nineteenth century, against a trend towards secularisation and an increasing separation of church and state. A framework will be sought in which to locate all the different sects and denominations, and to explain how religion contributed to the famed Dutch 'pillarisation', linked to a consideration of the relationship between religion and national identity. In accordance with the complexity and diversity of religious experience, there was no single national identity or process of nation formation in the nineteenth century in the Netherlands, but several. These separate but parallel paths towards a multiple national identity were themselves part and parcel of the particularly Dutch process of vertical pluralism, or 'pillarisation'.

'Pillarisation' requires careful definition. Strictly speaking, it refers to a condition found in many countries where vertical, ideological divisions dominate more than socio-economic (class) ones, and where those ideologies are 'pillarised' in the form of institutions formed on ideological or denominational lines, such as social clubs, schools, welfare agencies, churches and political parties.26 The Netherlands had become extensively 'pillarised' in that sense by the 1920s, and remained so until the 1950s; the nineteenth century was therefore formative, while pillarisation was taking place, into four pillars, of Catholics, orthodox Calvinists, Socialists and liberals. Two features distinguished these pillars. First, they had their own organisations in every conceivable arena, which succeeded in ensuring that it was possible to lead more or less separate Socialist, Calvinist or Catholic lives inside the pillars of society. Just as important for the Dutch version of pillarisation, although it has received very much less attention, was the system which held the pillars in place, namely

26 Righart, De katholieke zuil.

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