James II

James II

James II

James II

Excerpt

JAMES spent the remainder of the year 1648 with his sister Mary and her husband, William II, Prince of Orange, at their mansion at Honslaerdyke, near the Hague. The position of William requires some notice. He was the grandson of the famous William the Silent, who had been the mainspring of the resistance of the Dutch to Philip II of Spain and of the establishment of the United Provinces as an independent State; this independence, however, had not been effectively recognised until the Twelve Years' Truce of 1609, twenty-five years after the death of William the Silent, and it was not legally accomplished until the Peace of Münster in 1648. The office of Stadtholder, or Governor, in several provinces had been held by William under the King of Spain, and, by a curious anomaly, he retained the title after the provinces had broken away from Spain. Actually no Prince of Orange was Stadtholder in all of the seven provinces, and there was no Stadtholder for the United Provinces as a whole; his chief strength lay in the fact that he was Captain-General and Admiral-General of the forces of the State and was also Stadtholder of the province of Holland, by far the most important of the provinces; for it contained both the commercial capital, Amsterdam, and the meeting-place of the States-General, The Hague, and contributed to the central revenues more than the other six provinces combined. Already in the middle of the seventeenth century the State as a whole was beginning to be known by the name of this single province.

In 1631, by the Acte de Survivance, the Stadtholdership had been made hereditary, and William II's father, Frederick Henry, had become virtually a constitutional monarch, though he did not assume royal state and his powers were closely limited under a republican, but by no means democratic, constitution. The seven provinces which had successfully revolted against Spain had been part of the seventeen provinces which had constituted the Spanish Netherlands, and they formed in essence a military league of independent States; each province clung to the privileges which it had enjoyed under Burgundian and Hapsburg rule and which Philip II had attempted to destroy. In the result the States-General, the body in which, according to unenlightened foreign opinion, sovereignty resided, more closely resembled the League of Nations than the central government of a federal State like Canada . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.