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Republic of the Seven United Netherlands
Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden
Motto: "Concordia res parvae crescunt"
"Unity makes strength"
Anthem: "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe"
|Capital||The Hague (de facto)|
|Common languages||Dutch, Zeelandic, West Flemish, Low Saxon, West Frisian|
|Laurens van de Spiegel|
• State council
|Council of State|
|Historical era||Early modern period|
|23 January 1579|
|26 July 1581|
|30 January 1648|
|19 January 1795|
|Today part of||Belgium, Netherlands|
The Dutch Republic, or the United Provinces, was a confederal republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces—seceded from Spanish rule—until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. It was a predecessor state of the Netherlands and the first Dutch nation state.
A confederation is a union of sovereign states, united for purposes of common action often in relation to other states. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of inter-governmentalism, this being defined as any form of interaction between states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence or government.
A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a monarch.
The Dutch Revolt (1568–1648) was the revolt of the northern, largely Protestant Seven Provinces of the Low Countries against the rule of the Roman Catholic Habsburg King Philip II of Spain, hereditary ruler of the provinces. The northern provinces (Netherlands) eventually separated from the southern provinces, which continued under Habsburg Spain until 1714.
The republic was also known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, Republic of the Seven United Provinces, the United Provinces, Seven Provinces, Federated Dutch Provinces, or the Dutch Federation. Common names for the Republic in official correspondence were:
Until the 16th century, the Low Countries—corresponding roughly to the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg—consisted of a number of duchies, counties, and prince-bishoprics, almost all of which were under the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire, with the exception of the county of Flanders, which was under the Kingdom of France.
The Low Countries, the Low Lands, or historically also the Netherlands, is a coastal lowland region in northwestern Europe, forming the lower basin of the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt rivers, divided in the Middle Ages into numerous semi-independent principalities that consolidated in the countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, as well as today's French Flanders.
The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.
Most of the Low Countries had come under the rule of the House of Burgundy and subsequently the House of Habsburg. In 1549 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which further unified the Seventeen Provinces under his rule. Charles was succeeded by his son, King Philip II of Spain. In 1568 the Netherlands, led by William I of Orange, revolted against Philip II because of high taxes, persecution of Protestants by the government, and Philip's efforts to modernize and centralize the devolved-medieval government structures of the provinces.This was the start of the Eighty Years' War.
The House of Valois-Burgundy, or the Younger House of Burgundy, was a noble French family deriving from the royal House of Valois. It is distinct from the Capetian House of Burgundy, descendants of King Robert II of France, though both houses stem from the Capetian dynasty. They ruled the Duchy of Burgundy from 1363 to 1482 and later came to rule vast lands including Artois, Flanders, Luxembourg, Hainault, the county palatine of Burgundy (Franche-Comté), and other lands through marriage.
The House of Habsburg, also called the House of Austria, was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs from 1438 until their extinction in the male line in 1740. The house also produced emperors and kings of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Germany, Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Croatia, Kingdom of Illyria, Second Mexican Empire, Kingdom of Ireland, Kingdom of Portugal, and Kingdom of Spain, as well as rulers of several Dutch and Italian principalities. From the 16th century, following the reign of Charles V, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.
Charles V was Holy Roman Emperor (1519–1556), King of Spain and ruler of the Spanish Empire, Archduke of Austria, and ruler of the Habsburg Netherlands (1506–1555). The Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and Incas, and the German colonisation of Venezuela both occurred during his reign. Charles V revitalized the medieval concept of the universal monarchy of Charlemagne and travelled from city to city, with no single fixed capital: overall he spent 28 years in the Habsburg Netherlands, 18 years in Spain and 9 years in Germany. After four decades of incessant warfare with the Kingdom of France, the Ottoman Empire, and the Protestants, Charles V abandoned his multi-national project with a series of abdications between 1554 and 1556 in favor of his son Philip II of Spain and brother Ferdinand I of Austria. The personal union of his European and American territories, spanning over nearly 4 million square kilometres, was the first collection of realms to be defined as "the empire on which the sun never sets".
In 1579, a number of the northern provinces of the Low Countries signed the Union of Utrecht, in which they promised to support each other in their defence against the Spanish army. This was followed in 1581 by the Act of Abjuration, the declaration of independence of the provinces from Philip II.
The Union of Utrecht was a treaty signed on 23 January 1579 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, unifying the northern provinces of the Netherlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain.
The Act of Abjuration is the declaration of independence by many of the provinces of the Netherlands from the allegiance to Philip II of Spain, during the Dutch Revolt.
In 1582, the United Provinces invited Francis, Duke of Anjou to lead them; but after a failed attempt to take Antwerp in 1583, the duke left the Netherlands again. After the assassination of William of Orange on 10 July 1584, both Henry III of France and Elizabeth I of England declined offers of sovereignty. However, the latter agreed to turn the United Provinces into a protectorate of England (Treaty of Nonsuch, 1585), and sent the Earl of Leicester as governor-general. This was unsuccessful and in 1588 the provinces became a confederacy. The Union of Utrecht is regarded as the foundation of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, which was not recognized by the Spanish Empire until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
The "French Fury" was a failed attempt by Francis, Duke of Anjou, to conquer the city of Antwerp by surprise on 17 January 1583.
William I, Prince of Orange, also known as William the Silent or William the Taciturn, or more commonly known as William of Orange, was the main leader of the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Habsburgs that set off the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1581. He was born in the House of Nassau as Count of Nassau-Dillenburg. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau and the ancestor of the monarchy of the Netherlands. Within the Netherlands he is also known as Father of the Fatherland.
Henry III was King of France from 1574 until his death and also King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573 to 1575. Henry was the thirteenth king from the House of Valois, the sixth from the Valois-Orléans branch, the fifth from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch, and the last male of his dynasty.
During the Anglo-French war (1778), the internal territory was divided into two groups: the Patriots, who were pro-French and pro-American, and the Orangists, who were pro-British.The Republic of the United Provinces faced a series of republican revolutions in 1783–1787. During this period, republican forces occupied several major Dutch cities. Initially on the defence, the Orangist forces received aid from Prussian troops and retook the Netherlands in 1787. The republican forces fled to France, but then successfully re-invaded alongside the army of the French Republic (1793–95), ousting stadtholder William V, abolishing the Dutch Republic, and replacing it with the Batavian Republic (1795–1806). After the French Republic became the French Empire under Napoleon, the Batavian Republic was replaced by the Napoleonic Kingdom of Holland (1806–1810).
Republicanism in the Netherlands is a movement that strives to abolish the Dutch monarchy and replace it with a republic. The popularity of the organised republican movement that seeks to abolish the monarchy in its entirety has been suggest to be a minority among the people of the Netherlands, according to opinion polls. On the other hand, there has shown to be political and popular support in the Netherlands for reducing the political powers and the subsidies of the royal house.
The Prussian invasion of Holland was a Prussian military campaign in September–October 1787 to restore the Orange stadtholderate in the Dutch Republic against the rise of the democratic Patriot movement.
The Flanders Campaign was conducted from 6 November 1792 to 7 June 1795 during the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars. A Coalition of states representing the Ancien Régime in Western Europe – Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Hanover and Hesse-Kassel – mobilised military forces along all the French frontiers, with the intention to invade Revolutionary France and end the French First Republic. The radicalised French revolutionaries, who broke the Catholic Church's power (1790), abolished the monarchy (1792) and even executed the deposed king Louis XVI of France (1793), vied to spread the Revolution beyond France's borders, by violent means if necessary.
The Netherlands regained independence from France in 1813. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 the names "United Provinces of the Netherlands" and "United Netherlands" were used. In 1815, it was rejoined with the Austrian Netherlands and Liège (the "Southern provinces") to become the Kingdom of the Netherlands, informally known as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, to create a strong buffer state north of France. On 16 March 1815, the son of stadtholder William V crowned himself King William I of the Netherlands. Between 1815 and 1890, the King of the Netherlands was also in a personal union the Grand Duke of the sovereign Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. After Belgium gained its independence in 1830, the state became unequivocally known as the "Kingdom of the Netherlands", as it remains today.
During the Dutch Golden Age in the late-16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch Republic dominated world trade, conquering a vast colonial empire and operating the largest fleet of merchantmen of any nation. The County of Holland was the wealthiest and most urbanized region in the world. In 1650 the urban population of the Dutch Republic as a percentage of total population was 31.7 percent, while that of the Spanish Netherlands was 20.8 percent, of Portugal 16.6 percent, and of Italy 14 percent. In 1675 the urban population density of Holland alone was 61 percent, that of the rest of the Dutch Republic 27 percent.
The free trade spirit of the time was augmented by the development of a modern, effective stock market in the Low Countries.The Netherlands has the oldest stock exchange in the world, founded in 1602 by the Dutch East India Company, while Rotterdam has the oldest bourse in the Netherlands. The Dutch East-India Company exchange went public in six different cities. Later, a court ruled that the company had to reside legally in a single city, so Amsterdam is recognized as the oldest such institution based on modern trading principles. While the banking system evolved in the Low Countries, it was quickly incorporated by the well-connected English, stimulating English economic output.
Between 1590 and 1712 the Dutch also possessed one of the strongest and fastest navies in the world, allowing for their varied conquests, including breaking the Portuguese sphere of influence on the Indian Ocean and in the Orient, as well as a lucrative slave trade from Africa and the Pacific.
The republic was a confederation of seven provinces, which had their own governments and were very independent, and a number of so-called Generality Lands. The latter were governed directly by the States General, the federal government. The States General were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives of each of the seven provinces. The provinces of the republic were, in official feudal order:
There was an eighth province, the County of Drenthe, but this area was so poor it was exempt from paying federal taxes and as a consequence was denied representation in the States General. Each province was governed by the Provincial States, the main executive official (though not the official head of state) was a raadspensionaris . In times of war, the stadtholder, who commanded the army, would have more power than the raadspensionaris.
In theory, the stadtholders were freely appointed by and subordinate to the states of each province. However, in practice the princes of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau, beginning with William the Silent, were always chosen as stadtholders of most of the provinces. Zeeland and usually Utrecht had the same stadtholder as Holland. There was a constant power struggle between the Orangists, who supported the stadtholders and specifically the princes of Orange, and the Republicans, who supported the States General and hoped to replace the semi-hereditary nature of the stadtholdership with a true republican structure.
After the Peace of Westphalia, several border territories were assigned to the United Provinces. They were federally governed Generality Lands. They were Staats-Brabant, Staats-Vlaanderen, Staats-Limburg, and Staats-Oppergelre. The States General of the United Provinces were in control of the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, but some shipping expeditions were initiated by some of the provinces, mostly Holland and Zeeland.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution were influenced by the Constitution of the Republic of the United Provinces, as Federalist No. 20, by James Madison, shows.Such influence appears, however, to have been of a negative nature, as Madison describes the Dutch confederacy as exhibiting "Imbecility in the government; discord among the provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war." Apart from this, the American Declaration of Independence is similar to the Act of Abjuration, essentially the declaration of independence of the United Provinces, but concrete evidence that the latter directly influenced the former is absent.
In the Union of Utrecht of 20 January 1579, Holland and Zeeland were granted the right to accept only one religion (in practice, Calvinism). Every other province had the freedom to regulate the religious question as it wished, although the Union stated every person should be free in the choice of personal religion and that no person should be prosecuted based on religious choice.William of Orange had been a strong supporter of public and personal freedom of religion and hoped to unite Protestants and Catholics in the new union, and, for him, the Union was a defeat. In practice, Catholic services in all provinces were quickly forbidden, and the Dutch Reformed Church became the "public" or "privileged" church in the Republic.
During the Republic, any person who wished to hold public office had to conform to the Reformed Church and take an oath to this effect. The extent to which different religions or denominations were persecuted depended much on the time period and regional or city leaders. In the beginning, this was especially focused on Roman Catholics, being the religion of the enemy. In 17th-century Leiden, for instance, people opening their homes to services could be fined 200 guilders (a year's wage for a skilled tradesman) and banned from the city.Throughout this, however, personal freedom of religion existed and was one factor—along with economic reasons—in causing large immigration of religious refugees from other parts of Europe.
In the first years of the Republic, controversy arose within the Reformed Church, mainly around the subject of predestination. This has become known as the struggle between Arminianism and Gomarism, or between Remonstrants and Contra-Remonstrants. In 1618, the Synod of Dort tackled this issue, which led to the banning of the Remonstrant faith.
Beginning in the 18th century, the situation changed from more or less active persecution of religious services to a state of restricted toleration of other religions, as long as their services took place secretly in private churches.
Long-term rivalry between the two main factions in Dutch society, the Staatsgezinden (Republicans) and the Prinsgezinden (Royalists or Orangists), sapped the strength and unity of the country. Johan de Witt and the Republicans did reign supreme for a time at the middle of the 17th century (the First Stadtholderless Period) until his overthrow and murder in 1672. Subsequently, William III of Orange became stadtholder. After a 22-year stadtholderless era, the Orangists regained power, and his first problem was to survive the Franco-Dutch War (with the derivative Third Anglo-Dutch war), when France, England, Münster, and Cologne united against this country.
Wars to contain the expansionist policies of France in various coalitions after the Glorious Revolution, mostly including England and Scotland—after 1707, the United Kingdom—burdened the republic with huge debts, although little of the fighting after 1673 took place on its own territory. The necessity to maintain a vast army against France meant that less money could be spent on the navy, weakening the Republic's economy. After William III's death in 1702 the Second Stadtholderless Period was inaugurated. Despite having contributed much in the War of Spanish Succession, the Dutch Republic gained little from the peace talks in Utrecht (1713). The end of the War of Austrian Succession in 1748, and Austria becoming allies with France against Prussia, marked the end of the republic as a major military power.
Fierce competition for trade and colonies, especially from France and England, furthered the economic downturn of the country. The three Anglo-Dutch Wars and the rise of mercantilism had a negative effect on Dutch shipping and commerce.
In the Low Countries, stadtholder was an office of steward, designated a medieval official and then a national leader. The stadtholder was the replacement of the duke or earl of a province during the Burgundian and Habsburg period.
William II was sovereign Prince of Orange and stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands from 14 March 1647 until his death three years later. His only child, William III, reigned as King of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
William IV was Prince of Orange-Nassau and the first hereditary stadtholder of all the United Provinces.
The Eighty Years' War or Dutch War of Independence (1568–1648) was a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces of what are today the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands. After the initial stages, Philip II deployed his armies and regained control over most of the rebelling provinces. Under the leadership of the exiled William the Silent, the northern provinces continued their resistance. They eventually were able to oust the Habsburg armies, and in 1581 they established the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The war continued in other areas, although the heartland of the republic was no longer threatened; this included the beginnings of the Dutch Colonial Empire, which at the time were conceived as carrying overseas the war with Spain. The Dutch Republic was recognized by Spain and the major European powers in 1609 at the start of the Twelve Years' Truce. Hostilities broke out again around 1619, as part of the broader Thirty Years' War. An end was reached in 1648 with the Peace of Münster, when the Dutch Republic was definitively recognised as an independent country no longer part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Peace of Münster is sometimes considered the beginning of the Dutch Golden Age.
The Generality Lands, Lands of the Generality or Common Lands were about one fifth of the territories of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, that were directly governed by the States-General. Unlike the seven provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen, these territories had no States-Provincial and were not represented in the central government. From an economic point of view, they were exploited with heavy taxes and levies. As one author puts it: "Back in the Dutch lap, these so-called Generality countries were for a long time governed as a sort of internal colonies, in which Catholics were seen as second-class citizens."
The grand pensionary was the most important Dutch official during the time of the United Provinces. In theory he was only a civil servant of the Estates of the dominant province among the Seven United Provinces: the county of Holland. In practice the grand pensionary of Holland was the political leader of the entire Dutch Republic when there was no stadtholder at the centre of power.
The States General of the Batavian Republic was the name for the Dutch government between January, 1795 and March 1796. It was nominally the same as the States-General of the Dutch Republic, the predecessor of the Batavian Republic, as the old constitution, the Union of Utrecht remained in place till a new National Assembly of the Batavian Republic was seated after a general election, under universal manhood suffrage. As under the old constitution the States of the seven provinces remained the basis for representation in the States-General. However, those States were in most cases replaced by new representative bodies, like the Provisional Representatives of the People of Holland.The places of the members of the previous Orangist regime as representatives of the Seven Provinces were now taken by members of the Patriot party. The presidents of the States-General, both under the old and the new Republic, were acting as head of state for their term in office as president.
In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the regenten were the rulers of the Dutch Republic, the leaders of the Dutch cities or the heads of organisations. Though not formally a hereditary "class", they were de facto "patricians", comparable to that ancient Roman class. Since the late Middle Ages Dutch cities had been run by the richer merchant families, who gradually formed a closed group. At first the lower-class citizens in the guilds and schutterijen could unite to form a certain counterbalance to the regenten, but in the course of the 15th century the administration of the cities and towns became oligarchical in character. From the latter part of the 17th century the regent families were able to reserve government offices to themselves via quasi-formal contractual arrangements. In practice they could only be dislodged by political upheavals, like the Orangist revolution of 1747 and the Patriot revolt of 1785.
The States of Friesland were the sovereign body that governed the province of Friesland under the Dutch Republic. They were formed in 1580 after the former Lordship of Frisia acceded to the Union of Utrecht and became one of the Seven United Netherlands. The Frisian stadtholder was their "First Servant". The board of Gedeputeerde Staten was the executive of the province when the States were not in session. The States of Friesland were abolished after the Batavian Revolution of 1795, when the Batavian Republic was founded. They were resurrected in name in the form of the Provincial States of Friesland under the Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
A referendum on the constitution of the Batavian Republic was held on August 8, 1797. The draft constitution was rejected, eventually culminating in a coup d'état.
The Perpetual Edict was a resolution of the States of Holland passed on 5 August 1667 which abolished the office of Stadtholder in the province of Holland. At approximately the same time, a majority of provinces in the States General of the Netherlands agreed to declare the office of stadtholder incompatible with the office of Captain general of the Dutch Republic.
The Second Stadtholderless Period or Era is the designation in Dutch historiography of the period between the death of stadtholder William III on March 19, 1702 and the appointment of William IV as stadtholder and captain general in all provinces of the Dutch Republic on May 2, 1747. During this period the office of stadtholder was left vacant in the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht, though in other provinces that office was filled by members of the House of Nassau-Dietz during various periods. During the period the Republic lost its Great-Power status and its primacy in world trade, processes that went hand-in-hand, the latter causing the former. Though the economy declined considerably, causing deindustralization and deurbanization in the maritime provinces, a rentier-class kept accumulating a large capital fund that formed the basis for the leading position the Republic achieved in the international capital market. A military crisis at the end of the period caused the fall of the States-Party regime and the restoration of the Stadtholderate in all provinces. However, though the new stadtholder acquired near-dictatorial powers, this did not improve the situation.
In the history of the Dutch Republic, Orangism or prinsgezindheid was a political force opposing the Staatsgezinde (pro-Republic) party. Orangists supported the princes of Oranges as Stadtholders and military commanders of the Republic, as a check on the power of the regenten. The Orangist party drew its adherents largely from the common people, soldiers, the nobility and orthodox preachers, though its support fluctuated heavily over the course of the Republic's history.
The Dutch Republic was a confederation of seven provinces, which had their own governments and were very independent, and a number of so-called Generality Lands. These latter were governed directly by the States-General, the federal government. The States-General were seated in The Hague and consisted of representatives of each of the seven provinces.
The Dutch States Party is the name used in Anglophone historiography for the faction in the politics of the Dutch Republic referred to in (older) Dutch historiography as the Staatsgezinde partij. This republican faction is usually (negatively) defined as the opponents of the Orangist, or Prinsgezinde faction, who supported the monarchical aspirations of the stadtholders, who were usually members of the House of Orange-Nassau. The two factions existed during the entire history of the Republic since the Twelve Years' Truce, be it that the role of "usual opposition party" of the States party was taken over by the Patriots after the Orangist revolution of 1747. The States party was in the ascendancy during the First Stadtholderless Period and the Second Stadtholderless Period.
The Act of Guarantee of the hereditary stadtholderate was a document from 1788, in which the seven provinces of the States General and the representative of Drenthe declared, amongst other things, that the admiralty and captain-generalship were hereditary, and together with the hereditary stadtholderate would henceforth be an integrated part of the constitution of the Dutch Republic. Moreover, members of the House of Orange-Nassau would have the exclusive privilege to hold the office. The Act was in force until the Batavian Republic was established in 1795.