Willem Hubert Nolens
Willem Hubert Nolens was born to Martin Nolens, a tanner, and Hermina Hubertina Linskens. He studied
philosophyat the "Bisschoppelijk College" of Rolduc(1874-1880), theologyat Roermond Seminary(1880-1884) and jurisprudenceand lawat Utrecht University(1887-1890). He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1887 and taught economicsand moral philosophyat Rolduc. In 1896 he was elected to the Tweede Kamerof Dutch parliament. He joined the club of Roman Catholic members of parliament of which fellow priest Herman Schaepmanwas the chairman.
In 1904, a year after Schaepman's death, Nolens and other Roman Catholic politicians founded the General League of Roman Catholic Caucuses. He was a democratically-minded politician who strove to better the fate of the working class and favoured better social security. Like Schaepman before him, this brought him into conflict with the conservative Catholics in parliament. In 1910 Nolens became the "
fractievoorzitter" of the General League in parliament, a position he would retain until his death in 1931. In 1918 he became " formateur" of a cabinet. Although in Dutch political discourse becoming formateur normally means becoming Prime Minister as well, Nolens couldn't accept the position of Prime Minister because of his clerical status. Instead Charles Ruijs de Beerenbrouckwas named the first Roman Catholic Prime Minister in Dutch history and he chaired the cabinet Nolens had formed. In 1926 the loose organisation of the General League was further tightened and it was renamed to Roman Catholic State Party. When young Catholic intellectuals drifted towards right-wing extremismat the end of the 1920s Nolens faced increasing criticism. In 1930 the National Socialist Catholic poet Gerard Wijdeveld fiercely attacked Nolens in his poem "De Droom van Nolens (Nolens's Dream)" because of his perceived soft stance on freedom of religionin the Dutch East Indies.
Nolens was an influential politician in Dutch politics throughout the 1920s and 1930s as the Roman Catholic State Party was the largest party in Dutch parliament at the time. He was immensely popular amongst the
miners in his native Limburgfor they owed much of their improved working and living conditions to his suppport for social reforms. The night before his funeral street lightingin Venlo was covered as a sign of mourning. Ten thousand people attended the funeral next day.
* [http://www.inghist.nl/Onderzoek/Projecten/BWN/lemmata/bwn1/nolens/ Biography of Willem Nolens at the Institute for Dutch History] nl icon
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