Jan Frans Vonck  

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Johannes Franciscus Vonck (1743 – 1792) was a lawyer and one of the leaders of the Brabant Revolution from 1789–1790. This Revolution led to the founding of the United States of Belgium in January 1790. Vonck was the leader of the radical Vonckists faction of revolutionaries which were named after him. They were inspired by the French Revolution, pleaded for the abolition of the feudal government of the state based on privileges and were in favour of a more centralised government.

Brabant Revolution

During the Brabant Revolution, Vonck initially cooperated with Hendrik van der Noot and his faction of the Statists. In the course of the Revolution, Hendrik van der Noot became Voncks’ opponent as Van der Noot strived for the restoration of old privileges such as the "Joyous Entry", the "Blijde Inkomst". Vonck, influenced by developments in France on the other hand, aimed for less privileges. He pleaded for more democracy, and separation between legislative, executive and judicial powers. Vonck formulated his ideas in the Considérations impartiales sur l'état actuel du Brabant ("Impartial considerations on the current state of Brabant"), which appeared in January 1790. Vonck aimed to reform the existing structures rather than an Assemblée nationale as established by the French Revolution. Vonck wanted to extend the representation of the three social classes in the States General: clergy, nobility and the bourgeoisie. The clergy had to increase in number with secular representatives and the nobility also had to increase in number. According to Vonck, the representation of the third class, the bourgeoisie, who consisted of patricians, had to be extended to the higher middle class. Van der Noot wanted to preserve the privileges of the nobility and the Catholic church. He considered Vonck to be a danger and started to pursue him as he did with other opponents. The Vonck's house was looted and on 17 March 1790, he had to go into hiding in Brussels. Together with some comrades, Vonck had to flee to France, where he eventually arrived in Lille. Meanwhile, Vonck got a passport under the name of Van Nuffel, the name of his mother. There he translated his earlier Considérations into Dutch with the title Onzeydige Aenmerkingen over den tegenwoordige ghesteltenis van Brabant ("Impartial testament on the present situation of Brabant") and he added to it a Kort historisch verhael tot inleyding uytgegeven door den advocaat Vonck ("Short historical introductory story issued by the lawyer Vonck"). Shortly afterwards, he died in the city of Lille.

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