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Plakkaat van Verlatinghe (Act of Abjuration)

During their twelve-year stay in the Netherlands, the Pilgrim Fathers became acquainted with the principles of freedom of religion, the right to self-government, and the principles of the constitution and government as they took shape in the Netherlands according to the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe/ Act of Abjuration (which can be viewed on the website of the National Archives). In the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe, from 1581, the Spanish king Philip II is no longer recognized as the king of the Netherlands. As a declaration of independence, it marks the birth of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. A republic was unique in Europe where monarchs from the Habsburg or von Hohenzollern dynasty were the norm. The Pilgrims took the principles from the Plakkaat van Verlatinghe to America.

For example, before landing in America, the Pilgrimfathers draw up an agreement (the Mayflower Compact) in which it is agreed how their settlement in America should be governed without a king at its head. The Plakkaat van Verlatinghe was therefore indirectly also one of the sources of inspiration for the Founding Fathers who drew up the Declaration of Independence. There are clear parallels in terms of content between the text of the Edict of the Republic and the American 'Declaration of Independence' (1776), the associated constitution (1787) with preamble (We, the people…) and the Bill of Rights (1791) with the first ten amendments. Even today, freedom and democracy continue to pose challenges to global society.

The Pilgrim Fathers