Johan Rudolph Thorbecke
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|Johan Rudolph Thorbecke|
|Prime Minister of the Netherlands|
4 January 1871 – 4 June 1872
|Preceded by||Pieter Philip van Bosse|
|Succeeded by||Gerrit de Vries|
1 February 1862 – 10 February 1866
|Preceded by||Jacob van Zuylen van Nijevelt|
|Succeeded by||Isaäc Dignus Fransen van de Putte|
1 November 1849 – 19 April 1853
|Preceded by||Jacob de Kempenaer|
|Succeeded by||Floris Adriaan van Hall|
|Born||Johan Rudolph Thorbecke
14 January 1798
|Died||4 June 1872
The Hague, Netherlands
|Political party||Liberal (no party)|
|Spouse(s)||Adelheid Solger (1817–1870)|
|Alma mater||Leiden University (PhD, LL.M., Dr.h.c.)|
|Religion||Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands|
Life and politics 
Early life 
Thorbecke was born in Zwolle, and began studying classical literature and philosophy in Amsterdam, studies he finished in Leiden defending a thesis on Asinius Pollio. After studying at several universities in Germany he was appointed at the chair of diplomacy (history of international relations) and was at the University of Ghent, then part of the Netherlands. Because of the Belgian revolution of 1830 he had to give up this position, and one year later he was promoted to professor in diplomacy and modern history at the Leiden University.
Political career 
In 1839, he published his criticisms of the contemporary Dutch constitution in a very detailed study Aanteekening op de grondwet (Note on the constitution); as a result, he became a well-known political figure. Five years later, together with eight other politicians, he formulated a proposal to change the Dutch constitution. The proposal, known as the Voorstel der Negenmannen ("proposition of the nine men"), did not pass through the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
With much of Europe convulsed by the Revolutions of 1848, King William II decided to form at his own initiative a committee for revision of the constitution - rather than be forced into such a step by popular pressure, as were many other monarchs at the time. Thorbecke was appointed as the head of that committee. The changes, which were virtually all created by Thorbecke, were grudgingly approved by the parliament. The most important changes were those limiting of the powers of the monarch, introducing direct elections, establishing liberty of religion, and strengthening the powers of the parliament and the ministers. The new constitution was proclaimed on 3 November 1848.
In 1849, Thorbecke became minister of internal affairs, thereby de facto becoming the first Prime Minister of the Netherlands. During this cabinet, he devised several important laws, most important of which were laws on elections (1850), municipalities (1851) and provinces (1850). His cabinet was forced to resign in 1853 because of the so-called Aprilbeweging ("April Movement"), a Protestant group which protested against re-instituting the Catholic dioceses, which Thorbecke's cabinet had allowed.
On 31 January 1862, Thorbecke again became minister of internal affairs. During his second cabinet, a new law regarding secondary education was among the most important achievements. Important works regarding national transportation were initiated. The cabinet fell on 10 February 1866 and Thorbecke resigned, after a conflict regarding criminal law in the Dutch East Indies.
During the periods he was not part of the government, he was still a very influential member of parliament, quite often advising his colleagues and the ministers how to interpret the constitution. On 4 January 1871, Thorbecke led his third and final cabinet. His plans for reforms in the army failed, and he became ill in December of that year. He never fully recovered, and he died at his home in The Hague.
Hated by some (he was not a man of concessions), he is nowadays considered a towering figure in the Dutch parliamentary history. There are two statues of Thorbecke (one in Amsterdam and one in Zwolle), and a room in the Dutch parliament building is named after him.
Thorbecke wrote many articles on history and several newspaper articles (especially in the Journal de La Haye) on topics of the day. He published a study on the philosophy of history (in German), and all of his speeches in parliament have been published.
Further reading 
- J. Drentje: Thorbecke: een filosoof in de politiek. Amsterdam, 2004.
- C.H.E. de Wit: Thorbecke en de wording van de Nederlandse natie. Nijmegen, 1980.
- J.C. Boogman: Rondom 1848. Bussum 1978.
- J.B.Manger: Thorbecke en de historie. 1938. Second edition with a preface by H. te Velde: Utrecht, 1986.
- J. Brandt-van der Veen: Thorbecke-Archief (3 volumes). Contains Thorbecke's letters up until September 1830. Utrecht, 1955, Groningen, 1962, Utrecht, 1967.
- G.J. Hooykaas e.a.: De Briefwisseling van J.R. Thorbecke (7 delen). Contains Thorbecke's letters as of October 1830 until his death. These volumes appeared between 1975 en 2002.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Johan Rudolf Thorbecke|
- (Dutch) Official Parliamentary Biography