PhD ceremony: Mr. J.K.S. Moes, 14.30 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Dissertation: Onder aristocraten. Over hegemonie, welstand en aanzien van adel, patriciaat en andere notabelen in Nederland 1848-1914
Promotor(s): prof. Y.B. Kuiper
Faculty: Theology and Religious Studies
Recently the history of aristocrats in the modern world captured the attention of a steadily growing number of historians and social scientists in several countries. Their disappearance from public life is evident everywhere. Blending of the old families in the upper middle classes of Europe is one of the leading themes in international historical research. Did aristocrats really merge with the upper middle classes? If so, why, when and how did this fusion take place?
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is an interesting case in Europe. Traditionally the nation is known as a particularly bourgeois nation of merchants, ministers and bankers. In Jaap Moes’s study, based on historical research in Dutch Parliamentary Archives, the up until now hardly used lists of the highest tax payers in the provinces who were eligible for the First Chamber (equivalent of the British House of Lords) and a sample of Death Duty Records, it becomes unambiguously clear that Dutch aristocrats, defined as nobility and the old patrician families remained at the head of society in the Netherlands for half a century after their birthrights were abolished by the liberal constitution of 1848. At least until the First World War they were disproportionally present in government and overrepresented in the socio-economic elites of the highest tax payers in the Dutch provinces as well.
These aristocratic families managed to adapt themselves to the changing world in modern times without losing their collective identity. They transformed by applying political, economical and socio-cultural reconversion strategies to confront the rising middle classes, the changing political culture and the process of re-urbanisation that gained momentum during the second half of the nineteenth century. Parallel to the upper middle classes and the emerging pillarised top ten of the consociational democracy, aristocrats remained an exclusive social elite in the ‘bourgeois’ kingdom of the Netherlands combining power and influence in politics, disproportionate wealth and a distinguished social status well into the twentieth century.
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