225 years ago, the Peasants’ War broke out, a major uprising of the rural population against French rule in the Southern Netherlands. To commemorate this turbulent time, the municipalities of Puurs-Sint-Amands, Bornem and Willebroek, in collaboration with local heritage circles such as Heverstam and the Erfgoed Working Group, started the commemoration of 225 years of the Farmers’ War in the Rivierenland region. Throughout the year, each region in turn has its own exhibition to tell its own story about the impact of the Boerenwar. Last weekend the Peasants’ War was commemorated in Sint-Amands and Emmanuel Rollier was given his own memorial moment.
“Emmanuel Rollier has his roots in Sint-Amands and played an important role during the Boerenwar. As Boer war leader he ensured that a large army was formed around him. The influential role he played during the entire period was commemorated today,” said Bart Palmans of Heverstam.
With the commemoration moment in Sint-Amands, the organization wants to put the Peasant War, and especially Emmanuel Rollier, in the spotlight. “The Boerenwar had a major influence on our region. We should therefore certainly not forget this period. In the past, everyone knew the Peasants’ War and large folk festivals were organized to commemorate the period. In this way we try to regain some of that attention from back then.”
“Emmanuel Rollier may have moved to Willebroek, but he remains from Sint-Amands. He also played a major role during the Boer War. Together with his brother, he ensured that the population was ready to go to war with the French. The strong army that had formed around Rollier ensured that Sint-Amands was somewhat spared. We must not forget that,” Palmans concludes.
Although Rollier played such an important role, the attention has somewhat disappeared. “I can still remember how we learned about Rollier at school. At the age of ten we visited the house where we were born and had to draw a portrait. Meanwhile, the young children from our community hardly know this important figure anymore. This beautiful story should definitely not be lost. That is why I am very happy that we are putting the Boeren Krijg and Emmanuel back in the spotlight,” says Alderman Sophie Van Praet (CD&V).
After Rollier’s memorial moment, visitors enjoyed a pleasant reception and the film “Resistance 1978” was shown.
Petrus Joannes Apers
At the same time as Rollier’s commemoration, the exhibition in Ruisbroek also opened. An important figure featured during this exhibition is Petrus Joannes Apers. “Petrus was a horse merchant and joined Emmanuel Rollier’s resistance as a volunteer. He was later appointed captain.”
Heritage working group Puurs-Sint-Amands, Farmers’ War Committee Bornem, Heemkundig Kring Klein-Brabant and the Rivier&Land heritage cell together bring the story of Ruisbroek in the new exhibition. “The Boerenwar broke out on October 18, 1978 in Ruisbroek under the leadership of Apers. His short and fierce battle and that of his group ‘Brigands’ is the focus of this exhibition.”
The exhibition can be visited in the Heritage Depot from November 4 to November 26. On weekends everyone is welcome between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Anyone who would like to visit during the week can make an appointment via [email protected].