Two coalition parties have called for key documents from the foundation of the Netherlands to be put on show to make Dutch history more ‘visible’.
Pieter Heerma and Klaas Dijkhoff, parliamentary leaders of the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Liberal party (VVD) respectively, plan to raise the issue during the two-day debate that follows the King’s speech and budget announcement this week.
Heerma and Dijkhoff say the Union of Utrecht from 1579, the Apology of William of Orange (1580), in which he justifies the rebellion against the Spanish King Philip II, and the Act of Abjuration (1581), in which the provinces in the Union of Utrecht declared independence from Spanish rule, should be made available to the public, possibly in a permanent exhibition.
The pair argued that not enough Dutch people were familiar with what they called the country’s ‘birth certificates’ and said culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven should raise their profile. ‘We should be proud of our history and we should show it,’ they said.
The Act of Ajburation, or Plakkaat van Verlatinghe, signed by the Protestant northern provinces that formed the Union of Utrecht, is seen by many historians as one of the documents that inspired the American Declaration of Independence two centuries later.
The call comes in the wake of a heated debate last week triggered by the Amsterdam Museum’s announcement that it will no longer use the term ‘Golden Age’ in reference to the 17th century.
Prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly press conference on Friday that the decision was ‘nonsense’ and he would continue to use the term Golden Age, after museum director Judikje Kiers said she wanted to put more emphasis on the ‘poverty, war, forced labour and human trafficking’ that underpinned Amsterdam’s prosperity.
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