The Return of the Loving Father: Masculinity, Legitimacy and the French and Dutch Restoration


  • Matthijs Lok
  • Natalie Scholz



Historians of gender often see the construction of hegemonic images of masculinity as the result of long-term cultural processes. In this article we investigate the influence of short-term political events on the shaping of dominant political masculinities by comparing the representations of the early French and Dutch Restoration monarchies. The events of the political transition of 1813-1815 greatly influenced the competition of different models of masculinity existing in the early nineteenth century.


In both countries the newly established monarchs aimed to legitimate their insecure rule by presenting themselves as 'loving fathers' returning to their despairing children after the dark years of exile. The Dutch monarchy differed from the French case with regards to the role of women in the monarchical representation and the duality of the representation of William I as father and hero. Unlike Louis XVIII, William could present his fatherly rule as a return to the national tradition of domesticity (huiselijkheid).


This article is part of the special issue 'Low Countries Histories of Masculinity'.


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Author Biographies

Matthijs Lok

Matthijs Lok (1974) is Assistant Professor of Modern European History at the University of Amsterdam. He is specialised in the political and intellectual history of Europe from the late Eighteenth Century to the First World War (especially France and the Netherlands). Recent publications on the political transition of 1813-1815 include: 'De cultuur van het vergeten onder Willem I', in: R. Vosters and J. Weijermars (eds.), Taal,cultuurbeleid en natievorming onder Willem I(Brussels 2012) 61-86; 'The Netherlands under Napoleonic Rule (1801-1813): A New Regime or a Revived Order?' (with Martijn van der Burg), in: Michael Broers, Agustín Guimerá and Peter Hicks (eds.), The Napoleonic Empire and the New European Political Culture (Basingstoke 2012) 131-145, and Windvanen. Napoleontische bestuurders in de Nederlandse en Franse Restauratie (1813-1820) (Amsterdam2009).





Natalie Scholz

Natalie Scholz (1972) is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Amsterdam. She has published on representations of the French Restoration monarchy and is currently working on a research project about the political meanings of domestic objects in West Germany. Her recent publications include: 'Past and Pathos; Symbolic Practices of Reconciliation during the French Restoration', History and Memory 21:3 (2010) 48-80; 'The "Modern Home" during the 1950s: West-German Cultural Reconstruction and the Ambivalent Meanings of Americanization', Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 121:3 (2008) 296-311, and the co-edited volume Représentation et pouvoir:La politique symbolique en France (1789-1830)(Rennes 2007).







How to Cite

Lok, M., & Scholz, N. (2012). The Return of the Loving Father: Masculinity, Legitimacy and the French and Dutch Restoration. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 127(1), 19–44.