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The origins of the Constitution 1814-1815. Collection of Sources

Compiled by H.T. Colenbrander

With the departure of the French troops at the end of 1813, Dutch independence was finally restored and, in a manner of speaking, the new foundations for a political order could be laid down. By the beginning of December that same year, a new order had already been established: Prince William Frederick of Oranje-Nassau, the son of Stadholder William V, was proclaimed sovereign ruler. After just one month in office, William Frederick assembled a committee and entrusted it with the task of drafting a new constitution. The committee was chaired by Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp (1762-1834) who had already drafted a broad outline for a provisional constitution in 1812. The committee met for the first time on 27 December 1813. Three months later, on 29 March 1814, the committee’s proposal was approved.

After the French had left the Southern part of the Netherlands a decision was taken at the Council of Vienna to unite the North and the South. The union led to adjustments being made in the political order and to a revised constitution, which was once again drawn up by a committee led by Van Hogendorp.

This edition consists of two volumes. The first volume deals with the origins of the 1814 constitution, while the second volume focuses on the 1815 constitution. The source material that has been included in fact covers a much broader period than the title of the publication would suggest. More than 500 documents have been included in the publication, ranging from drafts for the constitution and minutes of the meetings convened by the committees responsible, to the correspondence of different committee members and letters between Van Hogendorp and William Frederick, who was later crowned King William I. The documents are written in Dutch, French and English.