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Biography Groen van Prinsterer (1801-1876)

Groen van Prinsterer
Groen van Prinsterer

The life of Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer was intimately connected with the nineteenth century, ranging from the aftermath of the French Revolution to the invention of the telephone by Bell. During his life Groen was many things, including a politician, a prominent historian, and an activist.

As a politician Groen can be considered as the founder of the Dutch branch of the anti-revolutionary or Christian-historical approach to politics, an approach which would become a dominant force within the Dutch political spectrum for decades to come. His political work was inseparably connected with the identity and political mobilization of the orthodox-protestant part of the Dutch population. His political work also put the public funding of religious schools on the political agenda.

By his attention for primary source material Groen contributed to the further development of history as a discipline. As a historian he also developed a distinctively protestant vision on the Dutch national past. In addition Groen corresponded with ideological friends and adversaries, was a prominent member of the Réveil movement, protested against slavery, and together with his wife Betsy he was one of the most important philanthropes of The Hague.

The life of Groen’s liberal contemporary Thorbecke has been discussed in a recent biography. In the case of Groen there is no such comprehensive biography. This aim of this project is to write a book which fills this lacuna and addresses the various aspects of Groen’s life.

The main methodological angle for this research project concerns the ‘epistemic virtue approach’, which originates from the ‘history of science’. This approach emerged as an attempt to shift the focus of historical research from the linear development of scientific and scholarly ideas to the common factor in various scientific ideas and practices. As this approach aims to historicize ideas and questions the teleological development of ideas, it also tends to focus on the relation between the professional and personal life of scientists and scholars.

My aim is to apply this virtue approach to the life and work of Groen van Prinsterer by relating his ideas to the specific form and style of his approach to history and politics. His anti-revolutionary ideas can for example be related to the ‘political culture’ of the parliament. The focus on virtues is also suitable to investigate the relation between Groen’s personal and public life.

The research project will be supervised by prof. dr. G. (George) Harinck (TU Kampen) and prof. dr. J.W. (Hans) Renders.

Gertjan Schutte (1990) is an intellectual historian, who works as a researcher at the Theological University Kampen. His project concerns the biography of Groen van Prinsterer. Before starting with this project, he was employed as a PhD researcher at the EUI in Florence. His dissertation dealt with the relation between political economy and rhetoric.

Last modified:07 September 2021 4.31 p.m.
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