Contested Rights: Clerical and Lay Authority in the Holland Mission


  • Jaap Geraerts



Dutch Republic, Catholic nobility, Holland Mission, Jansenism, jus patronatus, lay agency


This article studies eleven conflicts between Catholic nobles and the leaders of the Holland Mission. The nobles claimed the right to nominate and present priests in the clandestine Catholic churches and chapels in their jurisdictions; the apostolic vicars and internuncios refused to grant such privileges to members of the laity. Through the assertion of patronage rights, the Dutch Catholic nobility tried to expand their influence over the Holland Mission and voiced their preference for particular priests. As such, these conflicts offer a window into the inner workings of the Missio Hollandica and the Dutch Catholic community, revealing the complex and dynamic interplay between clergy and laity. Moreover, a number of these quarrels represent early instances of laypeople taking a stance in the battle between Jansenists and their opponents, a larger conflict which eventually lead to a schism in the Catholic Church in the Dutch Republic. This analysis therefore provides a cross-section of the Dutch Catholic community and shows how slowly but surely this community disintegrated into warring factions of clergymen and laypeople.


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How to Cite

Geraerts, J. (2018). Contested Rights: Clerical and Lay Authority in the Holland Mission. Early Modern Low Countries, 2(2), 198–225.