The Revolt of the Netherlands broke out in 1566 and within two decades tore apart the Low Countries. Especially in the northern Dutch Republic, a relatively aconfessional national historical canon of the history of the Revolt emerged subsequently. Before the “memory boom” of the late twentieth century, historians have considered this interest in the rebellion’s history as a self-evident result of the war. By comparing northern and southern memory practices, this article argues that there is little self-explanatory or modern about the way Dutch people cultivated their own take on the Revolt. Instead, with reference to Aleida Assmann’s distinction between “canon” and “archive,” it proposes that the development of a popular, aconfessional, and national canon of the Revolt in the north was a sign of weakness in a state that was religiously divided and lacking a strong central government.
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