“Reading” Early Modern Dutch Texts with Voyant Tools: Examples from Three Revolutionary-Era Mennonite Sermons

“Reading” Early Modern Dutch Texts with Voyant Tools: Examples from Three Revolutionary-Era Mennonite Sermons


The Bigger Purposes of This Post Are Three-Fold:

  1. to promote digital text analysis as a complement to traditional techniques of close reading, and Voyant Tools as a first-choice for digital analysis programs;
  2. to advertise my Dutch stop-words list (available in Voyant Tools and in Academia.edu); and
  3. to give some background about the career and ideas of the unconventional Dutch Mennonite preacher and revolutionary-era activist — François Adriaan (Francis Adrian) van der Kemp.

In this post I have several interactive windows from Voyant Tools. The text-combination I use in each Voyant window includes 3 sermons from the anti-Orange activist and Dutch Patriot Movement leader François Adriaan van der Kemp. Each sermon is from Elftal Kerkelyke Redevoeringen [11 Sermons]. In 1782, when he published the collection, van der Kemp was the preacher of the Doopsgezind (also known in English as “Mennonite”) congregation in Leiden. The sermons were presented at several Doopsgezind congregations in the Dutch Republic. The stop-word list helps make the Voyant analysis manageable and productive.

NOTE: This post is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer, not a phone or smaller tablet.

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The Mennonite Preacher François Adriaan van der Kemp’s 1782 Sermon on the Duties of Wives (from _Elftal Kerkelycke Redevoeringen_; original Dutch with no commentary)


Coloss. III: 18.

Gy vrouwen! zyt uwe eigene mannen onderdaenig, geljk ‘t betaemt in den Heere.


“Wel dien, die een vernuftig wyf heeft; wel dien die een deugdzaem wyf heeft; dies leeft hy nog eens zo lange. Een huislyk wyf is haeren man ten vreugde, en vervult de jaeren zyns levens met vreede. Een deugdelyk wyf is eene edele gave, en wordt dien gegeven, die God vreest. ‘t Zy dat hy ryk of arm is, zo is ‘t hem een troost en maekt hem altyd vrolyk. Een vriendelyk wyf verblydt haeren man, en wanneer zy vernuftiglyk met hem omgaet, ververscht zy hem zyn harte; een vrouwe die zwygen kan is eene gave Gods; eene welgemanierde vrouwe is een onwaerdeerbaer goed, het liefst op aerde; en een kuisch wyf is ‘t kostelykst van allen”.

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A Dutch Mennonite Preacher’s Revolutionary Sermons from 1782: Background about _Elftal Kerkelycke Redevoeringen_ [11 Sermons]

Bow before the God of Freedom, or bend your neck under the Yoke.

— François Adriaan van der Kemp, 1782


Original from _Elftal Kerkelyke Redevoeringen_, page 243: …”bukt U voor den God der Vryheid, of kromt uwen nek onder het Juk.”

Van der Kemp is probably best known among scholars today as a friend to several of the American Founding Fathers and an immigrant to the young American Republic. His pre-American, Mennonite career in the Dutch Republic is much less well-known, especially in the English-speaking world. This post is about what might seem at first glance to be a surprising link between religion and politics. After all, what was van der Kemp doing giving a set of revolutionary sermons? Weren’t Mennonites pacifists? The answers are quite complex. This post will provide some historical background to the sermons. For a biography of François Adriaan (Francis Adrian) van der Kemp, see the biography included at https://dutchdissenters.net/wp/2019/03/francois-adriaan-van-der-kemp/.

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“The Ghost of Menno Simons”: 18th-century trolling?

“The Ghost of Menno Simons”: 18th-century trolling?

For a little fun on Hallowe’en 2021, this post provides highlights from a short, 8-page pamphlet written in the voice of a ghostly Menno Simons. The Dutch-language pamphlet is anonymous and undated, but it from the early 1780s. This was the era of the Patriot Movement against Orange family rule in the Dutch Republic. One of the leading national organizers of the Movement was the Mennonite preacher in Leiden, François Adriaan van der Kemp. The anonymous author of the pamphlet uses the voice of Ghost Menno to wag a finger at Van der Kemp and his ilk. In 2020s terms, the author seems to be “trolling” democratically oriented, anti-Orange, Dutch Mennonites of the 1780s.

You can read more about Van der Kemp at this website (https://dutchdissenters.net/wp/2015/03/quotation-kemp-1782/, and https://dutchdissenters.net/wp/2019/03/francois-adriaan-van-der-kemp/).

Post updated: 2 Nov. 2021 (see text that follows the image of the title page below)

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Biographical Sketches of Mennonite and Collegiant Revolutionaries in the Netherlands, 1780-1815

Biographical Sketches of Mennonite and Collegiant Revolutionaries in the Netherlands, 1780-1815

I’m planning more posts about the following politically significant figures, about whom little is known in the non-Dutch-reading world. For now, the links to Dutch and English sources (Biografisch Portaal van Nederland and the Global Anabaptist-Mennonite Encyclopedia Online, plus a few others when appropriate) will serve as a start.

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Welcome to the Dutch Dissenters Blog!

Under construction (Oct. 2017)

This is the opening post for a new blog about research on Dutch religious and political nonconformity before 1850. The purpose of the blog is to highlight the research of Prof. Mike Driedger and his colleagues. We are using the online medium because of the visual and interactive options that it offers.

There are three rotating banner images…

The first…

The second…

Another features a Dutch political cartoon from the mid 1780s.

Anon-FAvdKemp-RijksmuseumIn the centre of the cartoon is a caricature of François Adriaan van der Kemp, a preacher in the Mennonite (Doopsgezind) congregation of Leiden. Van der Kemp was a leading member of the Dutch Republic’s “Patriot” movement of the 1780s. The Patriots movement opposed what its members thought was Orange family tyranny. Although van der Kemp led a congregation of Mennonites, who traditionally rejected the use of violence, he himself acted as the captain of a group of citizen-soldiers who were prepared to defended the Patriot revolt against threats from Orangists. The Patriot movement collapsed in 1787 when faced with a foreign invasion in support of the Orange regime.

The image is from the Rijksmuseum collection in Amsterdam. Its title is “Spotprent op de Leidse predikant F.A. van der Kemp, 1786: Der Hedendaagsche Cantzel Huzaaren” (Caricature of the Leiden Preacher F.A. van der Kemp, 1786: Today’s Pulpit Militiaman). It is available online in high-def format as part of the Museum’s Rijksstudio project. The object number is RP-P-OB-85.549.