Dutch Empire/Batavian Republic

The Batavian Republic was proclaimed on January 19, 1795, a day after the fled to England. The invading French revolutionary army, however, found quite a few allies in the Netherlands. Eight years before, the Orange faction had won the upper hand in a small, but nasty civil war. Many of the revolutionaries, who were full of the ideals from the American and French revolutions, had fled to France and now returned eager to realize their ideals.

Dutch expansion of Cape Colony

The new republic took its name from the Batavi, a Germanic tribe who had lived in the area of the Netherlands in Roman times and who were then romantically regarded as the ancestors of the Dutch nation.

The new republic did not experience a reign of terror or become a dictatorship. Changes were imposed from outside after Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power. In 1805 Napoleon installed the shrewd politician Schimmelpenninck as raadspensionaris ("Grand Pensionary", president of the republic) to strengthen the executive branch.

In 1801, Napoleon imposed a new constitution on the republic, which was financially drained by French requisitions.

As a French vassal state, the Batavian Republic was an ally of France in its wars against Great Britain. This led to the loss of most of the Dutch Empire and a defeat of the Dutch fleet in the Battle of Camperdown in 1797. South Africa (cape colony), Sri Lanka, India and Berbice were occupied by the British between 1795 and 1802. After peace was made between Britain and France in 1802, Berbice and South Africa were returned to the Dutch. However, after the outbreak of war again in 1803, Berbice was occupied and South Africa followed a few years later, in 1806. The collapse of Dutch trade caused a series of economic crises. Only in the second half of the 19th century would Dutch wealth be restored to its previous level.

In 1806 Napoleon forced Schimmelpenninck to resign and declared his brother, Louis Bonaparte, King, of the new Kingdom of Holland.

Dutch Empire

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