The so-called Kermisoproer – Funfair Revolt – held Amsterdam in its grip from 11-15 September 1876 and it had long-term political implications. The Revolt was caused by a decision of the municipal council in 1875 to forbid the September Funfair. Increasingly ‘lower’ classes were seen to dominate the Fair with brawls and public drunkenness. Police and the army were brought in to quell the insurrection. Enormous material damage was sustained but only one person killed (a working man called Pogge who was struck by a stray bullet).
The September Funfair down through the centuries had been a three-week respite especially for merchants and the common populace in Hard Working Times. In the course of the nineteenth century Amsterdam industry and shipping had created a big, largely extremely poor and even famished class of what was called ‘proletariat’ – a term of opprobium for the low class which spawned often out-of-work off-spring. The Funfair became an escape of a few days from extreme poverty, very long working hours, and horrible public health conditions. Closing that escape valve brought on this local uprising. Inspired by Karl Marx, one Klaas Ris (1821-1902) used the Revolt to further the cause of justice for the working classes and socialism. Ris was a driving force behind the foundation of the Sociaal-Democratische Bond (1880) which is one of the historical roots of the present Labour Party (PvdA) in The Netherlands.
Henceforth, funfairs in Amsterdam became decentralised, local affairs; in fact, even today there is not one that is ‘central’. They’re spread through the year, though the ones on Dam Square, the heart of the City, are renowned.
Here’s a view of the last evening of the Peaceful April Funfair this year; it’s taken from the Damstraat behind the National Monument. In the background is the seventeenth-century Royal Dam Palace, built originally as the Town Hall.
Tagged: , Paleis op de Dam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands , Dam Palace, Amsterdam, The Netherlands , Damstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands , PvdA , Sociaal-Democratische Bond , Karl Marx , Klaas Ris , Kermisoproer , Funfair Revolt , proletariat , poverty , Mr , Pogge , stray police bullet