The Objects

15th Apr 1815

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Source: The Early Modern Pamphlets Online Collection at the Koninklijke Bibilotheek, Nationale Bibliotheek van Nederland, with permission.

A Poem by Petronella Moens: ‘Bij het intrekken van Napoleon Buonaparte in Parijs’

Contributed by: Lotte Jensen

In April 1815 Petronella Moens (1762-1843), one of the best known Dutch women writers of the time, published a poem entitled ‘Bij het intrekken van Napoleon Buonaparte in Parijs’ (‘On Napoleon Bonaparte’s entering of Paris’). This poem is of particular interest because of the female perspective: not only is it written by a woman, but there is also ample attention to the emotions of women confronted with the possibility of a new war against Napoleon.

Moens’ main goal is to spread feelings of patriotism amongst her fellow-countrymen: she encourages all Dutch men to join the allied forces. To make her address stronger she includes emotional appeals from three different groups: fathers, mothers and wives, and young girls of marriageable age (‘the Dutch virgins’). Each one of these groups in turn makes an emotional appeal to the men to leave their loved ones behind to serve their country. Consequently, the role of women in this poem is to overcome their fears, and to encourage their husbands and sons to join the fight.

The conclusion of the poem is that there can be no doubt that the allies will be able to defeat Napoleon, with the support of the beloved father of the Dutch nation, King William, and with God on their side.