"Gardez-vous-en bien ... de la brochure" Pamfletgebruik en politieke cultuur in de historiografie over de Brabantse Omwenteling (1787-1789)



At the end of the eighteenth century, the Austrian Netherlands were plagued by political
turmoil and social upheaval, brought forth by a reaction against the reformatory movement
set up by the Habsburg government. The contestation of Joseph II's reformist policy
was performed in public, as the region was flooded with polemical pamphlets, ideological
treatises and many other types of popular writings during (but also before and after) the
period of the Brabant Revolution (1787-1789). Pamphlets have stood at the centre of
attention for historiography on Belgian political culture at the end of the ancien régime,
yet this wide employment of the source material has not led to a comparative overview of
the way these writings have been used in historical research. This article will attempt to
fill this gap, by first providing a methodological typology of several historiographical
uses of a particular pamphlet, the Manifeste du Peuple Brabançon, written at the end of
1789, and signed by the leader of the conservative opposition, Hendrik Van der Noot.
Secondly, I will attempt to show how eighteenth-century pamphleteers used a multitude
of discourses at their disposal, by briefly discussing another set of (pre-revolutionary)
pamphlets. This has immediate consequences for the current understanding of eighteenth-century
Brabant political culture, which, so I argue, should not be considered discursively
monolithic (containing one political language) but pluralist (containing multiple political