What was going on at Quint’s time?
We have all heard of the French Revolution
But did you know that three years before the Storming of the Bastille in Paris, in the Netherlands, and in Utrecht in particular, a revolution was already taking place? This Utrecht revolution attracted many people's attention. 'The eye of the nation is focused on Utrecht,' wrote a contemporary on the armed people of Utrecht. On the illustration you see the patriots taking of the oath on De Neude.
It was rumbling all over the Netherlands...
The 'patriot movement' strongly opposed the power of Stadtholder William V and his supporters. These disgruntled citizens championed fairer governance and wanted the people to have more say.
The Stadtholder’s army consisted of foreign mercenaries
First of all, the patriots wanted to replace the military personnel with armed citizens of the city to defend the city. This would considerably limit the power of William V, the commander-in-chief of the mercenaries. In the end, William V's rule ended abruptly. His departure for Great Britain can be seen on the picture.
At the heart of it all
The Patriot movement had supporters in all provinces, but Utrecht was at the heart of it. Why was that? People were very unhappy. The Stadtholder had far-reaching powers in the province of Utrecht which was governed by the widely hated and corrupt figure of William Nicolaas Pesters. If you were not one of his loyalists, as depicted here, you did not stand much chance of finding work. With his charisma and leadership, Quint Ondaatje used this discontent to give the citizens more influence.