and the Kingdom of Holland
A Soldier Emperor
The earliest and one of the staunchest supporters
of the American Revolution was the Dutch Republic.
The British initially ignored the actions
of their erstwhile ally, but by late 1780,
open war had erupted.
What the Dutch call the Fourth English War
was an unmitigated disaster for the Republic,
apart from the Battle of Doggersbank in
1781 where an out-gunned Dutch fleet fought
the British North Sea fleet to a standstill.
When peace was signed in 1784, responsibility
for the abysmal Dutch performance was dumped
on the head of Willem V, Prince of Orange,
captain-general of the Republic’s
fleet and army and effective head of state.
A groundswell of radical opposition, the
Batavian party, swept the openly pro-British
Willem out of power. French radicals, who
needed a safe haven, were welcomed by the
A truly democratic republic may have developed,
but Willem was married to Wilhelmina, sister
of the Prussian king. Frederik Wilhelm II
sent an army of 20,000 into the Netherlands
in 1787. The Batavian opposition collapsed
without a shot being fired, and Willem was
restored. Many Batavian leaders sought exile
in Paris, adding to the growing republican
movement there — which would erupt into
full revolution less than 24 months later.
By 1794, the French revolution had survived both internal
and foreign counter-attacks and had begun
its first foreign conquests. It drove the
Austrian and British armies from Belgium,
and aided by Batavian supporters, both in
France and at home, General Pichegru invaded
the Dutch Republic itself during the winter
Willem’s largely mercenary army collapsed,
but to the chagrin of not a few politicians
in Paris the Batavians declared a new independent
republic in Amsterdam before French armies
could occupy the city.
The Batavian Republic was allowed to survive
as a French ally, but was saddled with a huge
war indemnity, agreed to maintain its battle
fleet and a field army of 25,000, and also
had to pay for a 20,000-man French garrison
(although these 20,000 men were rarely in
The Batavian fleet was mauled at Camperdown
in 1798, part of a failed effort to invade
Ireland, but the army put up a creditable
performance the following year, defeating
an Anglo-Russian invasion force in North Holland.
Still, the French believed they never got
full value out of their Dutch ally. The myth
of limitless Dutch money persisted, but most
Dutch investments had been in speculative
bonds and there was little real cash to be
exploited. The Dutch government persistently
refused to implement national conscription,
frustrating French demands for more manpower.
The Dutch also refused to implement the continental
blockade, which would have led to total economic
The Emperor Napoleon attempted to get more
secure control of the region following the
Jena campaign of 1806. The Dutch, while having
no hesitation to fight the Prussians, had
refused to violate the territory of minor
German states with which they had no argument.
Napoleon abolished the Batavian Republic,
and reformed it into a kingdom under his brother
Louis. However, Louis proved to be no puppet,
and so identified with his new subjects that
he learned Dutch and probably protected Dutch
interests better than they could have done
themselves. In growing frustration, in 1810
Napoleon convinced his brother to abdicate
and annexed the Netherlands outright.
But this still did not solve the manpower
and money issues. Conscription met with widespread
opposition and rioting. The continental blockade
was imposed, but many traditional enterprises
collapsed while the rate of smuggling ballooned.
In 1810, Dutch army regiments were integrated
en masse into the French army. While given
French regimental numbers, they remained as
distinct ethnic units under their old officers,
sometimes even wearing their old uniforms.
While Napoleon denigrated Dutch military performance,
he took an entire regiment of cavalry into
the Imperial Guards. He also took the Dutch
guards regiment and re-named it as the 3rd
Regiment of the Imperial Guards, complete
with their white uniforms. Aside from a regiment
of Polish lancers, no other foreign troops
served as distinct ethnic units in the Guards.
The 1812 campaign in Russia proved to be
calamitous for Napoleon, but it was a complete
disaster for the Dutch army. Of the 20,000-plus
Dutch soldiers serving in Russia, only a few
hundred returned home (most had fought with
the rearguard at the Beresina). As Russian
troops crossed the Dutch borders in 1813,
a full-scale rebellion against the French
broke out and the son of Willem V (who had
since died), Willem Frederik, returned and
became Willem I of a new Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The Dutch Republic held an ambivalent position
in the Napoleonic era. Once a great power,
the center of a coalition against the France
of Louis XIV, the republic had long fallen
from even middle power status. Still, the
Dutch had a huge colonial empire, and the
mystique of its wealth and naval power had
not entirely disappeared by the time of the
French revolution in 1789. The rapid collapse
of the Dutch army in 1795 still had come as
something of a shock.
The Dutch managed to maintain a precarious
independence as a French ally, even under
the reign of Napoleon, for a decade and a
half before the annexation of 1810. But the
French occupation of Holland would last less
than three years, and before the end of 1814,
a new Dutch kingdom would be established which
continues to this day.
Soldier Emperor Rules
The following rules attempt to reflect Holland's
ambiguous role within the framework of Soldier
The Batavian Republic
In the 1803, 1805 and 1809 scenarios the
Batavian Republic begins the game as a French
Minor Ally, comprising the area of Holland,
which is no longer considered a French home
area. (Technically, in the 1809 scenario the
name should change to the Kingdom of Holland,
but there are no effects on the game so “Batavian
Republic” will be used for game purposes.)
Beginning forces are 1 Netherlands Army and
1 Netherlands Fleet (reduced), placed in Holland
(the maximum force pool for the the Batavian
Republic is 1 Army and 1 Fleet). Recovery
level for the Batavian Republic is 1. Reduce
French at start forces by one army. The Netherlands
Army may only move in Holland and any adjacent
land areas (Calais, Kleves and Hannover).
The Netherlands Fleet is not restricted.
France collects 1 Money from Holland during
the Money and Manpower Phase as long as the
Batavian Republic exists as a French minor
ally. (This represents the indemnity placed
on the Dutch and the monies required to pay
for the 20,000 French “garrison”
The Batavian Republic may neither be “stolen”
by another power (17.6), nor “stabbed
in the back” by France (16.3). As long
as the Batavian Republic exists the Holland
card (19.3) may not be played.
France may annex the Batavian Republic simply
by stating this intent during the Diplomacy
phase. The Batavian Republic immediately ceases
to exist and Holland is treated as a French
The Netherlands fleet may be kept and is
subject to usual game rules (see the relevant
section in 19.3). The Netherlands army is
removed and any one reduced French army may
be brought back up to full strength (including
the Old Guard), or a new French army (reduced)
may be placed in Holland.
Once annexed, the Holland card may be played
as usual with all the provisions of 19.3.
While Holland is a French home territory,
France may collect only 2 Manpower and 2 Money
Control by Other Powers
If, before any French annexation, the Holland
area is controlled by any other power than
France, immediately remove any Netherlands
units. The Batavian Republic ceases to be
and the Holland card may be played as usual.
If France regains control, treat Holland as
a French home territory subject to restrictions
above (2 Manpower and 2 Money).
For Victory Points, Holland counts as any
other minor area (worth 5 VP to the French,
for example). Once annexed, however, it counts
as a French home area (and so generates no
VP for France), until or unless the Holland
card is played.
When using this option, the French automatic
victory level is increased to 40 points
while the Batavian Republic exists. If the
Batavian Republic ceases to exist, for whatever
reason, the French automatic victory level
is decreased to 35.
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