First Era of Liberty, 1650-1672 Second Era of Liberty, 1702-47

Absolutism (I) : William III., 1672-1702

In 1672, the Dutch Republic found itself at war with a coalition, consisting of France, England, Sweden and the bishops of Cologne and Munster. The French army of 120.000 invaded.
Raadspendionaris of Holland Johan de Witt had, a few months earlier, given command over the army to William III. of Orange. The French advanced, crossing the Rhine, and could only be stopped by flooding a stretch of land east of Holland. Most of the Republic was occupied by the enemy. The Dutch fleet, however, defeated the combined Anglo-French fleet at Kijkduin.
Meanwhile, the relation between William III. and the Estates deteriorated. On August 20th 1672, JOHAN DE WIT and his brother Cornelis were lynched by an Orangist mob. No attempt was made to arrest the culprits; William assumed the stadholdership. The coalition did not achieve any more military successes; England signed the Peace of Westminster in 1674, Cologne signed a peace treaty soon afterward. In 1675 the STATEN GENERAEL declared the position of CAPTAIN GENERAL of the army, presently held by William III., as hereditary in his family. In 1678, France signed the PEACE OF NIJMEGEN. According to that treaty, France had to take back toll levies introduced under Colbert's Mercantilist policy, intended to hurt Dutch trade.
The peace treaties ending the coalition war of 1672-1674/78 were, for the Dutch side, neutral respectively favourable. No territory was lost, and trade conditions, in the case of France, restored to pre-Mercantilist conditions. However, the defense had proven extremely costly. The GOLDEN AGE of the Dutch Republic was now definitively over. And France continued to pose a threat, not only to the Dutch Republic, but to the balance of powers in Europe.

Under King Louis XIV., France established the Chambre de Reunion in 1680, which annexed territories belonging to the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation, especially in the Spanish Netherlands, which Spain again proved unable to defend. William III. of Orange now became active diplomatically, creating the Alliance of Emperor, Spain, Sweden and the Dutch Republic (directed against France) in 1681. In England, meanwhile, Catholic King James II. found the opposition to his rule stiffening, and in 1688 fled the country. His son-in-law, (protestant) William III. of Orange, was invited to cross over into England and crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey (the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION).
England entered the coalition against France, and in the NINE YEARS WAR (1688-1697) William III. was able to stop France's push for hegemony in Europe. The PEACE OF RIJSWIJK (1697) restored France's annexions since 1680 to their rightful owners.
Csar Peter the Great visited the Netherlands incognito (1697/98), the Netherlands being an object of his study of modern society and economy. William III. died in 1702. During the latter years of his reign, he was preoccupied with foreign policy, and since 1688 he resided in England, thus unable to strengthen the position of the stadholder in the Netherlands, and to a certain extent neglecting the interests of the country.

Dutch Republic History Site, bibliography, compiled at Univ. Leiden
Novel : Alexandre Dumas, The Black Tulip, from, begins in 1672
William of Orange (William III.), from Portraits of Faithful Saints, a Dutch Reformed publication
De belangrijkste gebeurtenissen uit de periode 1648-1702, from, detailed chronological list, in Dutch
Before and after the Nine Years War (1688-1697), an essay by Lennie
Biography of William III., from History of Flanders
Timetable of the Dutch Republic, 1555-1702, from Amsterdam 2.0
Dutch Wars : War of 1672-1678, from infoplease
Amsterdam in 1700, from Afdeling Vroegmoderne letterkunde, Univ. Utrecht, in Dutch
Timelines 1672, 1695, from Digitale Atlas Geschiedenis, in Dutch; not a geographic Atlas
DOCUMENTS Map : Netherlands in 1672, features area occupied by the enemy; from Museum voor Vaderlandse Geschiedenis, from Mees, Historische Atlas, 1865
Map of the Netherlands in 1702, from Gardiner's Atlas of English History, 1892 political map, shows provinces, omits Maastricht as Dutch
William Blathwayt Papers, from Marshall/Osborn Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale Univ.; Blathwayt was serving William III. as diplomat; detailed inventory of letters, mostly from 1692-1703
Dutch Medals, from Medal Web, Collection Benjamin Weiss
REFERENCES The Decline of the Dutch Republic, pp.271-273 in : John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe
H.P.H. Jansen, Kalendarium. Geschiedenis van de Lage Landen in Jaartallen (History of the Low Countries by Years), Utrecht : Prisma (1971) 4th edition 1979, in Dutch [G]
Maarten Prak, The Dutch Republic in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge : UP 2005, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.2 P898d
Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude, The First Modern Economy. Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815, Cambridge : UP 1997, KMLA Lib.Sign. 330.9492 V982f

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First posted in 2000, last revised on April 4th 2006

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