Aspects of religion and society in the province of Zeeland (Netherlands) in the nineteenth century
The body of the thesis has three major components: an assessment of the state of historical work and historical thinking concerning Zeeland since 1800; a study of church affiliation, and reactions to secularization; and an attempt to gauge the effects of religious attitudes on the socioeconomic development of the province in the nineteenth century. An examination of the existing literature reveals a 'received opinion' on the socio-economic history of Zeeland, namely that there was a conservative, traditional mentality among the inhabitants, expressed in religious attitudes, which was a significant contributory cause of the province's mediocre economic performance since 1800. There follows a survey of nineteenth century Zeeland in its demographic, social, economic, and political aspects. A systematic examination of the growth and/or decline of the various religious denominations is conducted. In the face of secularization, the orthodox Calvinist groups and the Roman Catholics were better able to maintain their position than the mainstream Calvinist Hervormde Kerk or the smaller Protestant denominations. This conclusion is confirmed by a number of secondary sources concerning secularization. In order to determine the effects of religious principles on socio-economic affairs, certain issues in Zeeland are selected for analysis. These include relations between Protestants and Catholics, certain principles held by the orthodox Calvinists, the role of the churches as a (service) sector in the local economy, and religious intervention in local politics. The conclusion is reached that although it was indeed possible for religious principles to affect -detrimentally - the local economy, this was not the case in the nineteenth century in Zeeland. In conclusion, a modest contribution is made to several wide-ranging historical debates, and a number of subjects for further research are designated.