The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis

Govaert Flinck & Jürgen Ovens1559/1562

Royal Palace Amsterdam

Royal Palace Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands

This work shows the leaders of various Batavian tribes making a pact under the leadership of Claudius Civilis. Civilis had called the members of his tribe together, ostensibly for a banquet, and made a speech saying that the old alliance with the Romans had degenerated into a form of slavery and extortion. They swore an oath to rebel against this injustice.

Additional information:
Ever since 1584, stadholders had been compared with the leaders of the Batavian revolt. The Batavian leader Claudius Civilis and the Canninefate leader Brinio are the key figures in five works in the Batavian series. The Batavians and the Canninefates had united with the Frisians to fight the Romans in 69-70 AD. The mythical forefathers of the Dutch rebelled not so much against the Roman Emperor as against the unreasonable behaviour of the governor, just as the seven provinces that formed the Dutch Republic united to fight harsh Spanish officials, rather than the Spanish king.

Artwork history:
Rembrandt van Rijn also produced a version of the Conspiracy. It hung here for a short time in 1662 but, for reasons that are unclear, was then taken down and never rehung. The city fathers asked Jürgen Ovens to work up a sketch made by Govert Flinck to serve as a temporary replacement. That work remains in place to this day.

Photo was taken during the restoration of the Royal Palace Amsterdam between 2005-2009.


  • Title: The Conspiracy of the Batavians under Claudius Civilis
  • Creator: Govaert Flinck & Jürgen Ovens
  • Date Created: 1559/1562
  • Physical Dimensions: w5000 x h5000 mm
  • Display: Royal Palace Amsterdam
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Stichting Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam. Photo: René Gerritsen.
  • Medium: Watercolour and oil on Canvas

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