Acta classis of the Dutch reformed church from 1573 to1620

English | Nederlands

Edited by J.P. van Dooren, J. Roelevink, J. Bouterse, M. Kok, J. van Gelderen, C. Ravensbergen, P.H.A.M. Abels and A.P.F. Wouters, A.J. Verschoor; with the collaboration of A.J.J. van 't Riet and J. van den Berg.

In the late 16th century and in the 17th century, the classis, a clerical assembly, lay at the centre of the reformed church. It constituted the administrative mid-level between the local church councils and the provincial synods. All matters of any importance were dealt with by the classis.

The series of publications entitled ‘Classicale acta’, contains the minutes of each classis. The publications always begin with the oldest surviving Acta, usually dating from the last quarter of the 16th century. The series ends at 1620 when, after the National Synod of 1618-1619, the process of reformation was organizationally closed

The Acta provides insight into the organization of the church, the training and the vocation of preachers, the relationship between the church and secular authorities, the impact of the Reformation and theological debate. Numerous social issues are discussed including poverty, education, married life, superstition and witchcraft. The Acta Classis thus contains information for church, social and mentality historians.

The minutes of the classis are explained in brief where necessary. In addition, lists have been included of the municipalities and the preachers in the classis. Each section contains an index of persons, places and matters. As a lead-up to the texts there are introductions to the series as a whole and to each volume in particular.

The published Acta are from the classes of Dordrecht, Rotterdam/Schieland, Leiden, Woerden, Walcheren and Zuid-Beveland, and the classes of Overijssel, Delft and Gorinchem.

The classes of Schouwen and Duiveland, Tholen and Bergen op Zoom are works in progress. These volumes will be the last to be included in this series of publications and the project will then be wound up.

Volumes I and II

The Dordrecht classis covered a large area that included not just Dordrecht and the surrounding area, but also the Hoeksche Waard, part of the island of IJsselmonde, the Alblasserwaard, the Langstraat and the Barony of Breda. In 1616, Breda became an independent classis. The classis was tightly organized with Dordrecht at its centre at an early stage. It could withstand arguments between remonstrants and counter-remonstrants in relative harmony.

Volume III

The Rotterdam classis consisted of the city, the villages close to the Meuse on the island of IJsselmonde, and Schieland with Delfshaven and the town of Schiedam. The power struggle between Rotterdam and Schiedam became completely intertwined with the disputes between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants. These disputes even led to a long-lasting schism in the classis.

Volume IV

The Walcheren classis was made up of the island of the same name with the town of Middelburg, followed at some distance by Vlissingen and Veere. Later, Colijnsplaat on the Noord-Beveland peninsula was added. The duties of the classis reached as far as Flanders, to the area administered by the States of Zeeland as well as to the hostile area stretching to Calais. In that area, secret church congregations tried to keep their head above water. Walcheren was virtually wholly counter-remonstrants. The same applied to the Noord-Beveland classis, that was combined with the island and was dominated by the town of Goes. Only the Acta for the years 1579-1591 are available for this classis.

Volume V

The Leiden classis lay at the centre of an administratively strongly divided area. Originally, the classis was combined with the whole Rijnland [Rhineland], but in 1587 a split occurred between what would later be known as Overrijnland [Upper Rhineland] and Nederrijnland [Lower Rhineland]. In Nederrijnland, the city of Leiden was dominant. The area of Nederrijnland had no clear centre because the town of Woerden was still Lutheran. This changed in 1594, due in part to political circumstances. The classis of Woerden with Overrijnland was thus created. The presence of the university left its mark on the Leiden classis that often had to administer exams. In the classes of Leiden and Woerden, the struggle between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants was particularly intense. The authorities did, however, see to it that the tensions remained underground. Only the Acta of the Woerden classis for the years 1617-1620 579-1591 have been preserved.

Volume VI

Up until the end of the 16th century, Overijssel was the venue for the war negotiations between the Spanish and the Republic. Adherents of the reformed church were therefore concentrated in the cities. It was only in around 1600 that a start could be made on expanding the reformed church. The Acta give reports on the laborious efforts of the reformed church to function properly and to have learning take hold. In Overijssel too, the conflict between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants resulted in a schism. The Acta of the Zwolle classis have been lost. However, the Acta of the Deventer classis from 1601 to 1620, the Kampen classis from 1596 to 1601 and the Steenwijk/Vollenhove classis from 1601-1620 have been preserved.

Volume VII

The Delft classis, the oldest in Holland, was small. The area was roughly equivalent to that ruled by the bailiff of Delfland. This meant that a simple organization could be set up with the town of Delft at its centre. Stability was further strengthened by the personal talents of several preachers from Delft. In the conflicts between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants, the classis remained neutral for a long time but ultimately here too it almost ended in a schism.

Volume VIII

The Gorinchem classis originally covered a very large area from Culemborg and Vianen and Buren to Zaltbommel with Bommelerwaard, the Land van Arkel, the Land van Heusden and Land van Altena. Ultimately, Zaltbommel and Buren split away. In the remaining area, there were many manors and counties in addition to the towns of Gorinchem and Heusden. The Acta illustrates the struggle of the reformed church to remain standing in the midst of so many small centres of power. The struggles between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants were concentrated in particular around the town of Heusden.

Volume IX

This edition contains actae from t he province Gelderland, with actae from the classes Nijmegen, Tiel en Bommel, Zutphen, Overveluwe (Arnhem) and Nederveluwe (Harderwijk).

Volume X

The classis Brielle comprised the Dutch islands Voorne, Putten, Goeree and Overflakkee. The town Brielle had the most influence on life in the classis and played a role in the discrepancies between remonstranten and contraremonstranten.