Thorbecke, Johan Rudolf

BORN 14 Jan 1798, Zwolle, Overijssel - DIED 5 Jun 1872, Den Haag, Zuid-Holland
GRAVE LOCATION Den Haag, Zuid-Holland: Algemene Begraafplaats, Kerkhoflaan 12

The liberal policitian Johan Rudolf Thorbecke came from a half Germand and half Dutch family. His family was poor, but he was able to study Literature at Leiden University and he was promoted in 1820. He worked in Germany and lectured at Giessen and Göttingen, where he published "Ueber das Wesen der Geschichte" (1824). He became a professor of Political Science at Gent University in 1825. During the Belgian Revolution of 1830 he was forced to resign and in 1831 he obtained a professorship in Diplomacy and Modern History at Leiden University.

His attitude towards the autocratic government system became more critical over time and in 1844 he argued that universal suffrage would be unavoidable. he became a leader of the liberal opposition and in the revolutionary year 1848 he headed the committee that was asked to revise the constitution. Most changes were written by Thorbecke himself and accepted by the other members. The new constitution came into power on 3 November 1848 and the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy with limited powers for the King.

In november 1849 he became the head of the government of the Netherlands (the function of Prime Minister didn't formally exist at that time). But his reforms were resisted by many and relations with the king were strained. In 1853 he resigned. After nine years in the opposition he returned in 1862 as chairman of the Council of Ministers. He got on well with the king this time but in 1866 his cabinet went down on a conflict related to criminal in the Dutch East Indies. He became the leader of the opposition. In 1871 he had the chance to head a cabinet for the third time, but his health was failing and he died in 1872.

Related persons
• quarreled with Fransen van de Putte, Isaac Dignus


The grave of Johan Rudolf Thorbecke at the Gemeentelijke Begraafplaats, Den Haag.
Picture by Androom (03 Aug 2007)


Plaque at the house in Göttingen where Johan Thorbecke lived from 1820 to 1821.
Picture by Androom (26 Aug 2017)


Thorndyke, Louise

Published: 21 May 2021
Last update: 02 Feb 2022