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The house of Orange-Nassau 1544-1625

The House of Nassau

Blason famille de Nassau
Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau

Pat 3

Origin of the House of Orange-Nassau

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Nassau 13th century

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from William I "the Silent" to William III, 1544 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from Johan William Friso to King William III of the Netherlands, 1702 - 1890, straight Male succession.

PINK = line from Queen Wilhelmina to Queen Beatrix, 1890 - present, Female succession.

The House of Orange-Nassau stems from the Ottonian-Dillenburg Line

The importance of the House of Nassau grew throughout the 15th and 16th century in the Lowlands. Hemry III of Nassau-Breda was appointed Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in the beginning of the 16th century. Henry was succeeded by his son, René of Châlon-Orange in 1538, who was, as his full name stated, Prince of Orange. When René died prematurely on the battlefield in 1544 his possessions passed to his cousin, William.

Although William I "the Rich" of Nassau-Dillenburg was the legal heir to the possessions of Rene of Chalon after his dead in 1544, Emperor Charles V interfered, eventually because William I "the Rich" was a Lutheran, and Rene's possessions went to his eldest son William, on condition that he would come to Brussels and be educated as a Roman Catholic at his court. Thus, William of Nassau-Dillenburg inherited all of René’s titles and lands and became the founder of The House of Orange-Nassau in 1544 and known as William I of Orange, in English better known as William "the Silent".

From then on (1544) the family members, legally, used the title "Orange-Nassau." Even after 1702 when the Original Orange-Nassau line became extinct after the dead of William III and the Princedom Orange in France was annexed by King Louis XIV of France, the Nassau-Dietssz line used the title "Orange-Nassau", even as the descendents of King Fredrick I of Prussia still do until present day (see the story later).

After the post-Napoleonic reorganization of Europe, the descendents of the House of Nassau-Dietssz continued using the title "Orange-Nassau", now as "King of the Netherlands until 1890 when the House of Nassau-Dietssz became extinct with the dead of King William III.

After 1890 the Female line of the House of Nassau-Dietssz still use the title "Orange-Nassau" though they do not belong to the descendents of William I of Orange-Nassau, which became extinct in 1702.

The House of Orange-Nassau

Part 1


William I 1533-1584 "the Silent", Count of Nassau, Vianden and Dietz, Prince of Orange 1544-1584, Lord of Egmond and Count of Buren 1551-1584, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Burgundy, VisCount of Antwerp, Baron of Breda 1559-1584, Stadholder of Brabant 1577, Stadtholder of Frisia 1580 

 willemIclclick the image to enlarge

William I, Prince of Orange, also widely known as William the Silent (Dutch: Willem de Zwijger), or simply William of Orange (Dutch: Willem van Oranje),was born on 24 April 1533 in the castle of Dillenburg in Nassau, present-day Germany.

He was the eldest son of William "the Rich", Count of Nassau and Juliana of Stolberg-Werningerode, and was raised a Lutheran. He had four younger brothers and seven younger sisters: John, Hermanna, Louis, Mary, Anna, Elisabeth, Katharine, Juliane, Magdalene, Adolf and Henry.

When his cousin, René of Châlon, Prince of Orange, died childless in 1544, the eleven-year-old William inherited all Châlon's property, including the title Prince of Orange, on the condition that he receive a Roman Catholic education. He became Prince of Orange in 1544 and is thereby the founder of the branch House of Orange-Nassau. Besides Châlon's properties, he also inherited vast estates in the Low Countries (present-day Netherlands and Belgium). Because of his young age, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V served as the regent of the principality until William was fit to rule. William was sent to Brussels to study under the supervision of Mary of Habsburg (Mary of Hungary), the sister of Charles V and governor of the Habsburg Netherlands (Seventeen Provinces). In Brussels, he was taught foreign languages and received military and diplomatic education and became a wealthy nobleman.

Short descriptor of his life

William originally served the Habsburgs as a member of the court of Margaret of Parma, governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Unhappy with the centralization of political power away from the local estates and the Spanish persecution of Dutch Protestants,

William I became the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish that set off the Eighty Years War and resulted in the formal independence of the United Provinces in 1648.

William joined the Dutch uprising and turned against his former masters. The most influential and politically capable of the rebels, he led the Dutch to several successes in the fight against the Spanish. Declared an outlaw by the Spanish king in 1580, he was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard (also written as 'Gerardts') in Delft four years later.

William explained his conflict with king Philip II to the Council of State in the following way: "I can not approve that monarchs desire to rule over the conscience of their subjects and take away from them their freedom of belief and religion."

From politician to rebel

Anna von EgmondOn 6 July 1551, he married Anna van Egmond en Buren (1533-1558),the only child of Maximiliaan van Egmond and Françoise de Lannoy, the wealthy heir to the lands of her father, and William gained the titles Lord of Egmond and Count of Buren. They had three children. Later that same year, William was appointed captain in the cavalry. Favored by Charles V, he was rapidly promoted, and became commander of one of the Emperor's armies at age 22. He was made a member of the Raad van State, the highest political advisory council in the Netherlands in 1555; the same year, Charles abdicated in favour of his son, Philip II of Spain. It was on the shoulder of William that the gout-afflicted Emperor leaned during his abdication ceremony.

His wife Anna died on March 24, 1558. Later, William had a brief relationship with Eva Elincx, leading to the birth of their illegitimate son, Justinus van Nassau (1559-1631), William officially recognized him and took responsibility for his education, Justinus would become an admiral in his later years.

In 1559, King Philip II appointed William as the Stadtholder (governor) of the provinces Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Burgundy, thereby greatly increasing his political power. Although he never directly opposed the Spanish king, William soon became one of the most prominent members of the opposition in the Raad van State, together with Philip de Montmorency (1524-1568), Count of Hoorn and Lamoral (1522-1569), Count of Egmont. They were mainly seeking more political power for the Dutch nobility, and complained that too many Spaniards were involved in governing the Netherlands.

William was also dissatisfied with the increasing persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands. Brought up as both a Lutheran and later a Catholic, William was very religious but still was a proponent of freedom of religion for all people. The inquisition policy in the Netherlands, carried out by Cardinal Granvelle, prime minister to the new governor Margaret of Parma (1522–1583) (natural half-sister to Philip II), increased opposition to the Spanish rule among the, then mostly Catholic, population of the Netherlands.

Annasaxony1544On 25 August 1561, William of Orange married for the second time. His new wife, Anna of Saxony (1544-1577), was described by contemporaries as "self-absorbed, weak, assertive, and cruel", and it is generally assumed that William married her to gain more influence in Saxony, Hesse and the Palatine. The couple had five children.

In early 1565, a large group of lesser noblemen, including William's younger brother Louis (1538-1674), formed the Confederacy of Noblemen. On 5 April, they offered a petition to Margaret of Austria, requesting an end to the persecution of Protestants.

From August to October 1566, a wave of iconoclasm (known as the Beeldenstorm) spread through the Low Countries. Calvinists, Anabaptists and Mennonites, angry with their being persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church and opposed to the Catholic images of saints (which in their eyes conflicted with the Second Commandment), destroyed statues in hundreds of churches and monasteries throughout the Lowlands.

Following the Beeldenstorm, unrest in the Netherlands grew, and Margaret agreed to grant the wishes of the Confederacy, provided the noblemen would help to restore order. She also allowed more important noblemen, including William of Orange, to assist the Confederacy. In late 1566, and early 1567, it became clear that she would not be allowed to fulfill her promises, and when several minor rebellions failed, many Calvinists (the major Protestant denomination) and Lutherans fled the Southern Lowlands.

Following the announcement that Philip II, unhappy with the situation in the Lowlands, would dispatch his loyal general Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba (1507-1582) (also known as "The Iron Duke") to restore order, William laid down his functions and retreated to his native Nassau in April 1567, because he had been (financially) involved with several of the rebellions.

After his arrival in August 1567, Alba established the Council of Troubles (known to the people as the Council of Blood) to judge those involved with the rebellion and the iconoclasm. William was one of the 10,000 to be summoned before the Council, but he failed to appear. He was subsequently declared an outlaw, and his properties were confiscated.

As one of the most prominent and popular politicians of the Lowlands, William of Orange emerged as the leader of an armed resistance. He financed the Watergeuzen, refugee Protestants who formed bands of corsairs and raided the coastal cities of the Lowlands (often killing Spanish and Dutch alike). He also raised an army, consisting mostly of German mercenaries to fight Alba on land.

William allied with the French Huguenots, following the end the second Religious War in France when they had troops to spare. Led by his brother Louis, the army invaded the northern Lowlands in 1568, however the plan failed almost from the start. The Huguenots were defeated by French Royal Troops before they could invade, and a small force under Jean de Villers was captured within two days. Villers gave all the plans to the campaign to the Spanish following this capture.


On 23 May, the army under the command of Louis of Nassau won the Battle of Heiligerlee in the northern province of Groningen against a Spanish army led by the Stadtholder of the northern provinces, Jean de Ligne (1525-1568), Duke of Aremberg. Aremberg was killed in the battle, as was William's brother Adolf of Nassau (1540-1568).

Alba Countered by killing a number of convicted noblemen (including the Counts of Egmont and Hoorn on 6 June), and then by leading an expedition to Groningen. There, he annihilated Louis’ forces on German territory in the Battle of Jemmingen on 21 July, although Louis managed to escape. These two battles are now considered to be the start of the Eighty Years' War.

William responded by leading a large army into Brabant, but Alba carefully avoided a decisive confrontation, expecting the army to fall apart quickly. As William advanced, riots broke out in his army, and with winter approaching and money running out, William decided to turn back. William made several more plans to invade in the next few years, but little came of it, lacking support and money. He remained popular with the public, partially through an extensive propaganda campaign through pamphlets.

One of his most important claims, with which he attempted to justify his actions, was that he was not fighting the rightful owner of the land, the Spanish king, but only the inadequate rule of the foreign governors in the Netherlands, and the presence of foreign soldiers.

On April 1, 1572 a band of Watergeuzen captured the city of Brielle, which had been left unattended by the Spanish garrison. Contrary to their normal "hit and run" tactics, they occupied the town and claimed it for the prince by raising the Prince of Orange's flag above the city. This event was followed by other cities in opening their gates for the Watergeuzen, and soon most cities in Holland and Zeeland were in the hands of the rebels, notable exceptions being Amsterdam and Middelburg.

First declaration of Independence of Dordrecht

Marnix van st  aldegondeIn July 1572 the first Free States Meeting under the chairmanship of Marnix of Sint Aldegonde was held in the former Augustine monastery of Dordrecht. It was attended by representatives of those cities which had supported William of Orange in the fight against Spain. This lead unintentionally to the founding of the Repulblic of the Seven United Provinces. The cities represented at that meeting were : the principal towns of Holland, 1.Dordrecht (the leader of the cities), 2.Haarlem, 3.Leiden, 4.Gouda, 5.Gorinchem, 6.Alkmaar, 7.Oudewater, 8.Hoorn, 9.Enkhuizen, 10.Edam, 11.Medemblik and 12.Monnikendam.

During the same council, the States of Holland declared themselves independent from Spain and William I "The Silent" of Orange was chosen as their leader and Paulus Buys (1531-1594) was appointed first Grand-Pensionary of Holland . The rebel cities then called a meeting of the Staten Generaal (which they were technically unqualified to do), and reinstated William as the Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland.

Concurrently, rebel armies captured cities throughout the entire Country, from Deventer to Mons. William himself then advanced with his own army and marched into several cities in the south, including Roermond and Leuven. William had Counted on intervention from the French Protestants (Huguenots) as well, but this plan was thwarted after the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre on 24 August 1572 in which between 5,000 and 30,000 Huguenots were slaughtered, which signalled the start of a wave of violence against the Huguenots.

After a successful Spanish attack on his army, William had to flee and he retreated to Enkhuizen, in Holland. The Spanish then organised Countermeasures, and sacked several rebel cities, sometimes massacring their inhabitants, such as in Mechelen or Zutphen. They had more trouble with the cities in Holland, where they took Haarlem after seven months and a loss of 8,000 soldiers, and they had to give up their siege of Alkmaar.

In 1574 William's armies won several minor battles, including several naval enCounters. William went over to the Calvinist Church taking part in the Holy Communion in the Dordrecht Minster on 21 March 1574.

The Spanish, lead by Don Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens since Philip replaced Alba in 1573, also had their successes. Their decisive victory in the Battle of Mookerheyde in the south east, on the Meuse embankment, on 14 April cost the lives of two of William's brothers, Louis (1538-April, 14 1574) of Nassau and Henry (1550-April, 14 1574) of Nassau. Requesens's armies also besieged the city of Leiden. They broke up their siege when nearby dykes were cut by the Dutch. William was very content with the victory, and established the University of Leiden, the first university in the Northern Provinces.

CharlottebourbonWilliam had his previous marriage legally disbanded in 1571, on claims that his wife Anna was insane. He then married for the third time on 24 April 1575 at Dordrecht with Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier (1546-1582), a former French nun who was converted to Calvinism in 1572, who was also popular with the Dutch public. After their marriage they stayed for a while in Dordrecht. Together, they had six daughters.

After failed peace negotiations in Breda later that year, the war lingered on. The situation improved for the rebels when Don Requesens died unexpectedly in March 1576, and a large group of Spanish soldiers, not having received their salary in months, mutinied in November of that year and unleashed the Spanish Fury on the city of Antwerp, a tremendous propaganda coup for the Dutch Revolt.

While the new governor, Don John of Austria, was under way, William of Orange managed to have most of the provinces and cities sign the Pacification of Ghent, in which they declared to fight for the expulsion of Spanish troops together. However, he failed to achieve unity in matters of religion. Catholic cities and provinces would not allow freedom for Calvinists, and vice versa.

When Don John signed the Perpetual Edict in February 1577, promising to comply with the conditions of the Pacification of Ghent, it seemed that the war had been decided in favour of the rebels. However, after Don John took the city of Namur in 1577, the uprising spread throughout the entire Netherlands. Don John attempted to negotiate peace, but the prince intentionally let the negotiations fail.

On 24 September 1577, he made his triumphal entry in the capital Brussels. At the same time, Calvinist rebels grew more radical, and attempted to forbid Catholicism in their areas of control. William was opposed to this both for personal and political reasons. He desired freedom of religion, and he also needed the support of the less radical Protestants and Catholics to reach his political goals.

On 6 January 1579, several southern provinces, unhappy with William's radical following, sealed the Treaty of Arras (Unie van Atrecht), in which they agreed to accept their governor, Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma (who had succeeded Don John).

In opposition to the Union of Atrecht the northern provinces, later followed by most cities in Brabant and Flanders, then signed the Union of Utrecht on 23 January 1579, confirming their unity. William was initially opposed to the Union, as he still hoped to unite all provinces. Nevertheless, he formally gave his support on 3 May. The Union of Utrecht would later become a de facto constitution, and would remain the only formal connection between the Dutch provinces until 1795.

Declaration of independence

In spite of the renewed union, the Duke of Parma was successful in re-conquering most of the southern part of the Netherlands. Because he had agreed to remove the Spanish troops from the provinces under the Treaty of Arras (Atrecht), and because Philip II needed them elsewhere subsequently, the Duke of Parma was unable to advance any further until the end of 1581.

In the mean time, William and his supporters were looking for foreign support. The prince had already sought French assistance on several occasions, and this time he managed to gain the support of François, Duke of Anjou, brother of king Henry III of France. On September 29, 1580, the Staten Generaal (with the exception of Zeeland and Holland) signed the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours with the Duke of Anjou. The Duke would gain the title "Protector of the Liberty of the Netherlands" and become the new sovereign. This, however, required that the Staten Generaal and William would let go of their formal support of the King of Spain, which they had maintained officially up to that moment.

On July 22, 1581, the Staten Generaal declared their decision to no longer recognize Philip II as their king, in the Act of Abjuration. This formal declaration of independence enabled the Duke of Anjou to come to the aid of the resisters. He did not arrive until February 10, 1582, when he was officially welcomed by William in Flushing.

On March 18, the Spaniard Juan de Jáuregui attempted to assassinate William in Antwerp. Although William suffered severe injuries, he survived thanks to the care of his wife Charlotte and his sister Mary. While William slowly recovered, the intensive care by Charlotte took its toll, and she died on May 5.

The Duke of Anjou was not very popular with the population, the provinces of Zeeland and Holland refused to recognize him as their sovereign, and William was widely criticized for what were called his "French politics". When the Anjou's French troops arrived in late 1582, William's plan seemed to pay off, as even the Duke of Parma feared that the Dutch would now gain the upper hand.

However, the Duke of Anjou himself was displeased with his limited power, and decided to take the city of Antwerp by force on January 18, 1583. The citizens, who were warned in time, defended their city in what is known as the "French Fury". Anjou's entire army was killed, and he received reprimands from both Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I of England (who he had courted). The position of Anjou after this attack became impossible to hold, and he eventually left the Country in June 1583. His leave also discredited William, who nevertheless maintained his support for Anjou. He stood virtually alone on this issue, and became politically isolated. Holland and Zeeland nevertheless maintained him as their Stadtholder , and attempted to declare him Count of Holland and Zeeland, thus making him the official sovereign.

LouisecolignyIn the middle of all this, William had married for the fourth and final time on April 12, 1583 to Louise de Coligny (1555-1620), a French Huguenot and daughter of Gaspard de Coligny. She would be the mother of Frederick Henry (1584–1647), William's fourth legitimate son.


The Catholic Frenchman Balthasar Gérard (born 1557) was a supporter of Philip II, and in his opinion, William of Orange had betrayed the Spanish king and the Catholic religion. After Philip II declared William an outlaw and promised a reward of 25,000 crowns for his assassination, which Gérard found out in 1581, he decided to travel to the Netherlands to kill William. He served in the army of the governor of Luxembourg, Peter Ernst I von Mansfeld-Vorderort for two years, hoping to get close to William when the armies met. This never happened, and Gérard left the army in 1584. He went to the Duke of Parma to present his plans, but the Duke was unimpressed. In May 1584, he presented himself to William as a French nobleman, and gave him the seal of the Count of Mansfelt. This seal would allow for forgeries of messages of Mansfelt. William sent Gérard back to France to pass the seal to his French allies.

MoordwillemzwijgerGérard returned in July, having bought pistols on his return voyage. On 10 July, he made an appointment with William of Orange in his home in Delft, nowadays known as the Prinsenhof. That day, William was having dinner with his guest Rombertus van Uylenburgh (about difficulties in the Frisian States). After William left the dining room and climbed down the stairs, Van Uylenburgh heard how Gérard shot William in the chest from close range.

According to official records, his last words are said to have been:

“ Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de mon âme; mon Dieu, ayez pitié de ce pauvre peuple." in English "My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people."

Gérard fled to collect his reward but was caught before he could flee Delft, and imprisoned. He was tortured before his trial on 13 July, where he was sentenced to be brutally, even by the standards of that time, killed. The magistrates sentenced that the right hand of Gérard should be burned off with a red-hot iron, that his flesh should be torn from his bones with pincers in six different places, that he should be quartered and disemboweled alive, that his heart should be torn from his bosom and flung in his face, and that, finally, his head should be cut off.

Traditionally, members of the Nassau family were buried in Breda, but as that city was in Spanish hands when William died, he was buried in the New Church in Delft. His grave monument was originally very sober, but it was replaced in 1623 by a new one, made by Hendrik de Keyser and his son Pietsser. Since then, most of the members of the House of Orange-Nassau, including all Dutch monarchs have been buried in the same church. His great-grandson William III, King of England and Scotland and Stadtholder in the Netherlands was buried in Westminster Abbey in London (see later).


As the chief financer and political and military leader of the early years of the Dutch revolt, William is considered a national hero in the Netherlands, even though he was born in Germany, and usually spoke French. Many of the Dutch national symbols can be traced back to William of Orange: The flag of the Netherlands (red, white and blue) is derived from the flag of the prince, which was orange, white and blue. The coat of arms of the Netherlands is based on that of William of Orange. Its motto Je maintiendrai (French), "I will maintain" (English), "Ik zal handhaven" (Dutch), was also used by William of Orange, who based it on the motto of his cousin René of Châlon, who used Je maintiendrai Châlon.

The national anthem of the Netherlands, Het Wilhelmus, was originally a propaganda song for William. It was probably written by Philips van Marnix, lord of Sint-Aldegonde (1538-1598), a supporter of William of Orange. The national colour of the Netherlands is orange, and it is used, among other things, in clothing of Dutch athletes.

After the Batavian Revolution, inspired by the French revolution, it had come to be called the "Princes' March" as it was banned during the rule of the Patriot party, which did not support the House of Orange-Nassau. However, at the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1813, the Wilhelmus had fallen out of favour. Having become monarchs with a claim to represent the entire nation and stand above factions, the House of Orange decided to break with the song which served them as heads of a faction, and the Wilhelmus was hence replaced by Hendrik Tollens' song Wien Neêrlands bloed door d'aderen vloeit, which was the official Dutch anthem from 1815 till 1932.


Philip William, William's eldest son from his first marriage, to Anna of Egmond, succeeded him as Prince of Orange at the suggestion of Johan van Oldenbarneveldt. Phillip William died in Brussels on February 20, 1618 and was succeeded by his half-brother Maurice, the eldest son from William's second marriage, to Anna of Saxony, who became Prince of Orange. A strong military leader, he won several victories over the Spanish. Van Oldenbarneveldt managed to sign a very favorable twelve-year armistice in 1609, although Maurice was unhappy with this. Maurice was a heavy drinker and died on April 23, 1625 from liver disease. Maurice had several sons with Margaretha van Mechelen, but he never married her. So, Frederick Henry, Maurice's half-brother (and William's youngest son from his fourth marriage, to Louise de Coligny) inherited the title of Prince of Orange. Frederick Henry continued the battle against the Spanish. Frederick Henry died on March 14, 1647 and is buried with his father William "The Silent" in Nieuwe Kerk, Delft.

The Netherlands became formally independent after the Peace of Westphalia (Munster) in 1648. The son of Frederick Henry, William II of Orange succeeded his father as Stadtholder , as did his son, William III of Orange. The latter also became king of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1689. Although he was married to Mary II (1662-1694), Queen of Scotland and England for 17 years, he died childless in 1702.


William of Orange was married four times :

First : on July, 6 1551 Anna of Egmond, (1534-1558)

  1. Maria of Nassau, 22 November 1553 - 23 July 1555, Died in infancy, buried in the Grote of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Breda. William's second daughter Maria was named after her
  2. Philip William, Prince of Orange, 19 December 1554 - 20 February 1618, married Eleonora of Bourbon-Condé
  3. Maria of Nassau, 7 February 1556 - 10 October 1616, married 1595 Count Philip of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein (1550-1606)

Between his first and second marriage, William had an extramarital relation with one Eva Elincx. They had a son,

  1. Justinus of Nassau, 1559–1631, whom William acknowledged, become admiral in his later years

Second : on August, 25 1561, (annulled March, 22 1571)  Anna of Saxony (1544-1577)

  1. Anna of Nassau, 31 October 1562 - 23 November 1562, Died in infancy
  2. Anna of Nassau, 5 November 1563 - 13 June 1588 married 1587 her nephew Count William Louis of Nassau-Dillenburg (1560-1620), Stadtholder of Friesland, Groningen, and Drenthe
  3. Maurice August Phillip of Nassau, 18 December 1564 - 8 December 1566, Died in infancy
  4. Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 14 November 1567 - 23 April 1625, never married
  5. Emilia of Nassau, 10 April 1569 - 16 March 1629, married 1597 Emanuel of Portugal (1568-1638), son of pretender to the Portuguese throne António, Prior of Crato

Third : on April, 24 1575 at Dordrecht, Charlotte of Bourbon-Montpensier (1546-1582)

  1. Louise Juliana of Nassau,  31 March 1576 - 15 March 1644, married 1593 Frederick IV of The Palts (1574-1610), Elector Palatine
  2. Elisabeth of Nassau, 26 April 1577 - 23 September 1642 married 1595 Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne (1555-1623), and had issue, including Frédéric Maurice, duc de Bouillon and Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne
  3. Catharina Belgica of Nassau , July 1578 - 12 April 1648, married 1596 Philip Louis II of Hanau-Münzenberg (1576-1612)
  4. Charlotte Flandrina of Nassau, 18 August  1579 - 16 April 1640, after her mother's death in 1582 her French grandfather, Louis III de Bourbon, Duke of Montpensier (1513-1582), asked Charlotte Flandrina to stay with him. She became a Roman Catholic Nun and entered a convent in 1593 and became abbess of St. Croix in 1605
  5. Charlotte Brabantina of Nassau, 17 September 1580 - August 1631, married 1598 Claude de La Trémoďlle (1566-1604), Duc de Thouars, and had issue, including Charlotte Stanley, Countess of Derby
  6. Emilia Antwerpiana of Nassau, 9 December 1581 - 28 September 1657, married 1616 Frederik Casimir of the Palts-Zweibrücken-Landsberg (1585-1645)

Fourth : on April, 12 1583 Louise de Coligny (1555-1620), widow of Charles de Téligny and daughter of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny.

  1. Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau, 29 January 1584 - 14 March 1647, married Countess Amalia of Solms-Braunfels, father of William II and grandfather of William III

Philips William, 1554-1618, Prince of Orange, Count of Nassau, Vianden and Buren 1584-1618, Baron of Breda and Steenbergen 1606-1618

Philip WillemPhilip William (Philip William, Filips Willem in Dutch) was born on 19 December 1554 in Buren, Guelders, Seventeen Provinces. He was the first son of William I "the Silent" and Anna van Egmont. He became Prince of Orange after hs fathers dead in 1584 and Knight of the Golden Fleece in 1599.

When his father William I ignored Alva's summons to return to Brussels in 1567, remaining in Nassau, Philip William, only a boy of 13, was left behind by his father, studying at the University at Leuven in Brabant, he was seized in February 1568, and taken to Spain as a hostage, but alsoy to be raised as a good Catholic and loyal subject. He would never see his father and mother again.

In Spain he was raised at the court of King Philip II and treated as a son, he continued his studies at the university of Alcalá de Henares. Though treated well, he was forced to remain in Spain until 1596.

During his exile in Spain his interests in the Dutch Republic were vigorously defended by his sister, Maria of Nassau, against his half-brother Maurice of Nassau who contested his brother's right to the Barony and city of Breda.

Finally, 12 years after his fathers dead, he received permission to return to the Southern-Lowlands to claim his titles and Heirship of his father William I, but Maurice, his younger half-brother, had proclaimed himself already "born Prince of Orange" and the States of Holland didn't trust the raised Roman Catholic Philips William, so he lost the "battle" of his Heirship in the Lowlands though in 1606 Philip William was recognized in the Republic as Lord of Breda and Steenbergen, and his right to appoint magistrates was acknowledged, provided he did so maintaining the "Union and the Republic's religion".

He duly made his ceremonial entry into his town of Breda in July 1610 and from then until his death, regularly appointed the magistrates in his lordship. Though he restored Catholic services in the castle of Breda, he did not try to challenge the ascendancy of the Protestant-Calvinist Reformed Church in the city. He had a difference with the States-General in 1613, when they annulled his appointment of a Catholic drost. He had to cooperate with the military governor in Breda, his illegitimate stepbrother Justinus van Nassau, staunchly loyal to the States-General.

In 1596 in Fontainebleau, Philip William married to Eleonora of Bourbon-Condé, daughter of Henry I, Prince de Condé and cousin of King Henry IV of France. Most of the time he resided at his Castle in Orange and lived there until his dead in 1618 after years of struggle with his younger half-brother, he died 20 February 1618 without any children.

As Lord of Diest and a pious Catholic at the time of his death, Philip William of Orange commanded that the parish church of Saint Sulpice in the same city, should celebrate a yearly Requiem Mass for his soul. Diest is also the site of his burial in the Catholic Roman Rite. Diest is known as the "Orange City", and Philip William as "the Catholic prince of Orange".

To the relief of his younger half-brother Maurice of Nassau he could at last inherit the title "Prince of Orange" for which he had waited so long.

Maurice (Maurits), 1567-1625, Stadtholdero of Hollland and Zeeland 1585-1625, Stadholder of Utrecht, Guelders and Overijssel 1590-1625,  Prince of Orange and Baron of Breda 1618-1625, Stadtholder of Groningen 1620-1625

Maurits prins van OranjeMaurice of Nassau was born at the castle of Dillenburg on 14 November 1567, son of William I "the Silent", from his second marriage with Anna of Saxony. He was raised in Dillenburg by his uncle John VI "the Elder" of Nassau.

Together with his cousin William Louis he studied in Heidelberg and later in Leiden, they studied military history, strategy and tactics, mathematics and astronomy, in Leiden he met Simon Stevin (Flemish mathematician and engineer) who would have a great influence on the youngsters. The States of Holland and Zeeland paid for his studies, as their father had run into financial problems after spending his entire fortune in the early stages of the Dutch revolt. He was only 16 years old when his father was murdered in Delft in 1584.

His career was aided by the sponsorship of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the advocate of the States of Holland and the political leader of the province. As soon as he reached the age of 18, in 1585, Maurice was named stadholder (governor) of Holland and Zeeland at Oldenbarnevelt's initiative, as well as provincial captain and admiral general, in order to provide a Dutch political and military authority to set against the Earl of Leicester, who was coming to the United Provinces as governor general on behalf of Elizabeth I of England. Maurice was later elected stadholder of Utrecht and Overijssel (1590), Gelderland (1591), and Groningen and Drenthe (1620), following the death of his cousin William Louis..

Military career

After Leicester's recall in 1587, Maurice became in effect the commander in chief of the army of the United Provinces, although legally he was in command only in the provinces where he was stadholder and in the lands under the direct authority of the States General. Maurice undertook reorganization of the Dutch military forces on the basis of the principles and methods which he drew from study of the warfare and the military writings of the Romans of antiquity. He paid special attention to siegecraft, employing the great mathematician Simon Stevin as a military engineer and introducing the use of regular soldiers in trench digging and similar operations.

Maurice organized the rebellion against Spain into a coherent, successful revolt. He reorganized the army together with his cousin William Louis, Stadtholder of Frisia, and proved himself to be among the best strategists of his age, paying special attention to the siege theories of Simon Stevin, he took valuable key fortresses and towns, Breda in 1590, Steenwijk in 1592, and Geertruidenberg in 1593. These victories rounded out the borders to the Dutch Republic, solidifying the revolt and allowing a national state to develop behind secure borders.

Maurice became one of the foremost generalsof his time. Many of the great generalsof the succeeding generation, including his youngest half-brother Frederick Henry and many of the commanders of the later English Civil War (1641-1651) learned their tactics from him.

His success in creating the most modern army of his time was demonstrated in a series of victories beginning with the capture of Breda in 1590, followed the next year by the conquest of Zutphen and Deventer in Overijssel and Delfzijl in the north, the defense of Arnhem against Allessandro Farnese, and then the capture of Hulst in Zeeland and Nijmegen far to the east. The successful siege of Geertruidenberg in 1593 was the supreme achievement of his military science.

A period of reversals followed until 1597, when Maurice defeated the Spaniards at Turnhout and then captured a chain of towns in the eastern Netherlands which deprived the Spaniards of their last foothold north of the Rhine River: the Dutch proclaimed that he had completed fencing-in their "garden," and the United Provinces became in reality the independent republic they already claimed to be in law. Although Maurice was able to win a brilliant victory over the Spaniards at Nieuwpoort in 1600, the southern Netherlands remained under Spanish control, especially after Ambrogio de Spinola took over command of the Spanish armies in 1603.

His victories in the cavalry battles at Turnhout (1597) and at Nieuwpoort (1600) earned him military fame and acknowledgment throughout Europe. Despite these successes, the House of Orange did not attain great respect among European Royalty, as the Stadtholdership was not inheritable. The training of his army was especially important to early modern warfare.

Maurice and Van Oldenbarnevelt

Johan van Oldenbarneveldt, 1547–1619, Dutch statesman anf chief author of the truce of 1609. The truce virtually established the independence of the seven United Provinces.

Maurice started out as the protégé of Landsadvocaat (Land's Advocate) and Grand-Pensionary of Holland, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt who was like a father for Maurice. During the years to come gradually tensions rose between these two men.

The close political collaboration between Oldenbarnevelt and Maurice broke up, especially after peace negotiations began with the Spaniards in 1607 over the prince's objections. Maurice, himself indifferent to theological questions, aligned himself with the Contraremonstrants against Oldenbarnevelt, because, as strict Calvinists, they were adamant against peace with the papist foe. However, the Twelve Years Truce was concluded in 1609.

Against Maurice's advice, and despite his protests, Van Oldenbarnevelt decided to sign the Twelve Years' Truce with Spain, which lasted from 1609 til 1621. The required funds to maintain the army and navy, and the general course of the war were other topics of constant struggle. With the religious troubles between Gomarists (Calvinist) and Arminians (Remonstrants), the struggle between Van Oldenbarnevelt and Maurice reached a climax.

It was not until expiration of the truce began to approach that the question of its extension or renewal of the war brought Maurice and Oldenbarnevelt into mortal enmity. When the States of Holland, led by Oldenbarnevelt, began to raise its own troops in an effort to enforce its authority upon the Contraremonstrants, Maurice saw his own powers put in jeopardy, and he arranged the arrest and trial of Oldenbarnevelt and three collaborators, among them Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), a Dutch jurist, humanist, and poet, and the former's execution as a traitor in 1619. Meanwhile, in 1618, he had inherited the title of Prince of Orange when his elder brother, Philip William, who had remained a Catholic and loyal to Spain, died.

The Synod of Dordrecht in 1618-1619

When the struggle between Remonstrants and strict Calvinists broke out. Maurice took the part of the Calvinists and in 1618 compelled the summoning of the Synod of Dort, which suppressed the Remonstrants.

Later years

From 1618 till his death Maurice now enjoyed uncontested power over the Republic and behaved like a dictator and did not tolerate any contradictions in military and political affaires. Maurice also urged his brother Frederick Henry to marry in order to preserve the Orange dynasty.

The war was resumed in 1621, but Maurice was now a worn old man and unable to recapture his battlefield gifts, the Spanish, led by Ambrogio Spinola, had notable successes, including the Siege of Breda in 1625 (the Nassau's former family residence).

He was the victim of an unsuccessful assassination attempt in 1623 in which two sons of Oldenbarnevelt were implicated. The last years of his life he became a heavy drinker and rapidly grow old, probalby because he got remorse about his cruelty against the Dutch and the execution of Johan van Oldenbarneveldt who acted like a father to him.

With the siege of Breda still underway, Maurice died on 23 April 1625 of liver desease and was buried in the Nienwe Kerk of Delft beside his father William I "the Silent".

Justin of Nassau, his illigionate half-brither, surrendered Breda in June 1625 after a costly eleven-month siege. He had trained his younger brother, Frederick Henry, to be a military leader after his own best principles, and the United Provinces remained intact and free.

Maurice never married but was the father of illegitimate children by Margaretha van Mechelen and Barbara Cocx :

  1. Willem of Nassau 1601-1627, lord of the Lek
  2. Louis of Nassau 1602-1665, lord of den Lek and Beverweerd, married 1630 Isabella of Hornes (1664)
  3. Anna van de Kelder.

He was succeeded by his youngest half-brother Frederick Henry who became Prince of Orange after his elder brother died and he became 3rd Stadtholder of Holland and heir of the Orange family.

Origin of the house of Nassau

The House of Nassau

Blason famille de Nassau
Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau

Part 1


The history of the house of Orange-Nassau is a little confusing because, the original Nassua-Dillenburg family on which the Orange-Nassau family is based became extinct in 1702 with the dead of Prince William II, grand-son of William of Orange. The line in The Netherlands was after 1702 continued through the Nassau-Dietssz family-line in the person of John William Friso (1687-1711), on this line the present Dutch Kingdom is based. The bloodline of the present Queen, Beatrix, is as far a descendent of William I of Orange as Alpha and Omega in the alphabet and is only in "name" a member of the Orange-Nassau family. The title Prince/Princess of Orange-Nassau became after 1702 only a "ceremonial title" though denied by the Dutch Aristocracy and specially the Protestant Christian branch of the common Dutch people.

In accordance to the "Salic Law", still in use by Nobility in Germany and other Countries, the succession can only continue through the male line. In The Netherlands this law was already broken in 1702 when John William Friso was declared "Prince of Orange", from 1890 on until present day the family tree continued through the female line with Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix, which is a "dead-sin" for nobility.

Origin of the Nassau family

The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The lords of Nassau were originally titled Count of Nassau, then elevated to the princely class as princely Counts. At the end of the Holy Roman Empire, they proclaimed themselves Duke of Nassau. All Dutch queens since 1890 and the Grand Dukes of Luxembourg since 1912 have been descended in the female line from the House of Nassau.

According to German tradition, the family name is passed only in the male line of succession. The house is therefore, from this perspective, extinct. However Dutch aristocratic customs (and Luxembourg's, which are based on the aforementioned) differ, and do not consider the House extinct.

The first ancestor

Around 950, the Lords of Lipporn obtained the Esterau (the area near present day Holzappel) from Herman I, Duke of Swabia. In 991, a Drutwin from Lipporn is mentioned as Count in the Königssondergau east of Wiesbaden.

Dudo-Henry of Larenburg (German: Dudo-Heinrich von Laurenburg) (born c.1060, died c.1123) was Count of Laurenburg in 1093 and is considered the founder of the House of Nassau. Probably with his father, Dudo built the castle of Laurenburg on the edge of the Esterau, located a few miles upriver from Nassau on the Lahn in 1080. This was sometime before 1093, because a "Comes Dudo de Lurenburch" is mentioned in founding charte of the Maria Laach Abbey, in fifth place of the witness list. Some historians, however, have claimed that this document was fabricated. He is later mentioned in a document from 1117 as the Vogt in Siegerland, having succeeded his father.

The House of Nassau would become an important aristocratic family in Germany, from which are descended the present-day rulers of the Netherlands and Luxembourg, though extinct respectively in 1890 and 1912.

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from Dudo-Henry to William III, 1093 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from Walram II to William IV, Grand Duke of Luxemburg, 1255 - 1912.

PINK = line from Marie-Adélaïde, Grand Duchess of Luxemburg  to Henri, Grand Duke of Luxemburg, 1912 - present, Female succession.

Counts of Laurenburg

Dudo-Henry c.1060-c.1123), Count of Laurenburg 1093-1123, Count of Idstein 1122-1123

Count Dudo was the son of Robert (German: Ruprecht), the Archbishop of Mainz’s Vogt in Siegerland. It is presumed from their ancestral possessions in the Lipporn area that they were descendants of the Lords of Lipporn, who were mentioned as early as 881 in a document of Prüm Abbey as the owners of parts of the Lipporn-Laurenburg area. He was a supporter of the Salian emperors, opposing the Archbishops f Mainz, Cologne, and Trier and the Counts of Katzenelnbogen.

NassauBurgNassau Castle
Dudo began building Nassau Castle in 1093, In 1159 Nassau Castle became the ruling seat and the House of Nassau is now named after this castle. This resulted in a century-long dispute with the Bishopric of Worms, which owned the land. In 1117, Dudo donated land to Schaffhausen Abbey for construction of a monastery in Lipporn. This monastery, built under Dudo's son Robert I in 1126, was the Benedictine Schönau Abbey. From 1141 until her death in 1164, the abbey would be the home of St. Elizabeth of Schönau.

In 1122, Dudo received the castle of Idstein in the Taunus as a fief under the Archbishopric of Mainz. This was part of the inheritance of Count Udalrich of Idstein-Eppstein. He also received the Vogt-ship of the richly-endowed Benedictin Bleidenstadt Abbey (in present-day Taunusstein).

Dudo-Hery of Laurenburg married Anastasia of Arnstein an der Lahn (near present day Obernhof), daughter of Count Louis II of Arnstein (Anastasia, possibly as heiress to Louis II, had claims on the Vogtship of Koblenz), children :

  1. Robert (Ruprecht) I 1090-1154, Count of Nassau (1123-1154)
  2. Arnold I, Count of Laurenburg (1123-1148)
  3. Demudis, married Emich, Count of Diez

The chronology of the Counts of Laurenburg is not certain and the link between Robert I and Walram I is especially controversial. Also, some sources consider Gerhard, listed as co-Count of Laurenburg in 1148, to be the son of Robert I's brother, Arnold I.

The Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau expanded their authority under the brothers Robert I of Nassau (1123-1154) and Arnold I of Laurenburg (1123-1148). Robert was the first person to call himself Count of Nassau, but the title was not confirmed until 1159, five years after Robert's death.

Robert I of Nassau 1090-1154, Count of Nassau 1123-1154

Robert (Ruprecht) I of Nassau was from 1123 Count of Laurenburg and would later title himself the first Count of Nassau. Robert was the eldest son of Count Dudo-Henry of Laurenburg.

After 1120, Robert, ruled from Nassau Castle together with his brother Arnold I. In 1124, Robert became the Bishopric of Worms's Vogt over the Weilburg Diocese. He inherited this position from the Hessian Count Werner IV, Count of Gröningen. Idstein, which had come under the control of Count Dudo in 1122, was also added to this fief.

Through this, Robert was able to decisively expand the possessions of the House of Nassau. He gained, among other lands, the village of Dietsskirchen and established himself in the Haiger Mark. Along with numerous property and lordship rights in the Westerwald and Dill River region, Weilburg's territory included the former Königshof Nassau, which had fallen to Weilburg in 914. This did not, however, settle the dispute with the Bishop of Worms over the legality of constructing Nassau Castle.

When Robert I began calling himself Count of Nassau after the castle, the Worms Bishopric disputed the title. The title was only confirmed through the intervention of the Archbishop of Trier Hillin von Fallemanien in 1159, five years after Robert’s death, under his son Walram I.

In 1126, Robert endowed the Benedictine Schönau Abbey near Lipporn. The land had already in 1117 been donated by Count Dudo-Henry to Schaffhausen Abbey for construction of a monastery. Under Robert’s rule, from 1126 to 1145, the Romanesque buildings were constructed, presumably including a three-nave basilica. The Abbey included both a monastery for monks and a convent for nuns. From 1141 until her death in 1164 the abbey convent would be the home of St. Elizabeth of Schönau. Robert had continual disputes with several of his neighbors. He was a loyal follower of the Hohenstaufen Emperors. Robert died before May 13, 1154.

Before 1135, Rupert married Beatrix of Limburg (born c. 1115, deceased July 12, after 1164), daughter of Walram II the Pagan, Count of Limburg and Duke of Lower Lorraine, and Jutta of Guelders (daughter of Gerard I, Count of Guelders). Possibly as many as four, children were born of this union:

  1. Robert (Ruprecht) II, Count of Laurenburg, 1154-1158, died c.1159
  2. Arnold II, Count of Laurenburg, 1151-1154, died  1158
  3. Walram I, Count of Nassau (c.1146-1198)

Walram I 1146-1198, Count of Nassau 1154-1198

Walram (Valéran) I of Nassau was the first legally-titled Count of Nassau. Walram was the younger son of Count Robert I of Nassau. Robert I had ruled from Nassau Castle, together with his brother Arnold I, since about 1120. Originally titled Count of Laurenburg.

When his father died Walram was only seven years. Therefore, he initially shared the rule with his older brother Robert (Ruprecht) II, who died c.1159. After Robert II’s death, he shared power with his cousins, Henry (Heinrich) I and Robert (Ruprecht) III and Arnold I of Laurenburg (both sons of Robert I’s brother). After Henry and Robert’s deaths in 1167 and 1191, respectively, Walram reigned alone until 1198.

Although the Vogtship of Weilburg, with its numerous property and lordship rights in the Westerwald and Dill River region, had given Robert I a loose connection between his seat on the lower Lahn and his distant position in the Siegerland, Walram was able to create a solid land bridge in about the middle of the 12th century. He received the Herborner Mark, the Kalenberger Znt (including Mengerskirchen, Beilstein, and Nenderoth, the second two now being parts of Greifenstein), and the Court of Heimau (including Driedorf and Löhnberg) as a fief from the Thüringen-Hessian Landgraviate.

The same period may also have brought the Lordship of the Westerwald (including Marienberg, Neukirch, and Emmerichenhain, now part of Rennerod). Walram also bought the Vogtship of Koblenz and Ems. To the south of his possessions, Walram took over partial rule of the Einrichgau, later-named the Vierherrengericht (Four Lords’ Jurisdiction), with its main town of Marienfels. This had been part of the former Countship of Arnstein. The last Count of Arnstein, Ludwig III, had no heir and had converted his castle of Arnstein into a monastery, Arnstein Abbey, near present-day Obernhof, east of Nassau.

On entering the monastery himself in 1139/1140, he had transferred control of Marienfels to his cousin Reginbold of Isenburg. In 1160, Reginbold sold it jointly to his cousins, the Counts of Nassau and Katzenelnbogen. The Nassau Counts were able to claim part of the inheritance through the marriage of their ancestor Count Drutwin IV of Laurenburg with one of the seven daughters of Count Ludwig  of Arnstein.

Walram became affiliated with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarrossa in the Peace of the Rhine Country in 1179. He placed his lands under the immediate suzerainty of the German king, rather than remaining a vassal of the archbishop of Trier. He would remain a loyal supporter of the Hohenstaufen Emporers. Walram's close ties with the imperial house were rewarded with Königshof Wiesbaden. At about the same time, he also received possession of the game rights in the forests of the Rheingau (a fief of the Archbishopric of Mainz), so that his rule extended over the Taunus, south to the Middle Rhine. Walram had ongoing feuds with the neighboring houses of Eppstein, Solms, and Katzenelnbogen.

With his cousin Robert III, Walram went to the Third Crusade (1189-1190). Walram and Robert were part of Frederick I’s delegation set ahead to Constantinople to prepare for the arrival of the German troops. While Frederick had earlier received promises of cooperation from Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos, the delegation was initially snubbed and then actually held as hostages by the Emperor.

After Robert's death in the Holy Land, Walram became the Vogt of Siegerland. Walram played a role in the formation of the Teutonic Order in Acre. His son, Robert (Roprecht) IV, would later join the Teutonic Knights. Walram I died on February 1, 1198. He is buried in Arnstein Abbey.

Walram married Kunigunde (probably Kunigunde of Ziegenhain, daughter of Count Poppo II of Nidda, on November 8 (year unknown). Her death date is also unknown but she was still alive on March 20, 1198. children:

  1. Henry (Heinrich) II, the Rich, Count of Nassau (1180-1251)
  2. Robert (Ruprecht) IV, Count of Nassau(1198-1230) and Teutonic Knight (1230-1240)
  3. Beatrix of Laurenburg, a nun in Affoderbach Abbey in Miehlen (a town owned by Laurenburg-Nassau since 1132)
Counts and Co-Counts of Laurenburg (c.1093-1159)
Name Rule time Remarks
Dudo-Henry c.1060-c.1123 son of Robert (Ruprecht), the Archbishop of Mainz’s Vogt in Siegerland
Robert (Ruprecht) I 1123-1154 son of Dudo-Henry
to Walram I (1154-1198) of the House of Nassau
Arnold I 1123-1148 co-Count, son of Dudo-Henry
Gerhard 1148 co-Count, son of Arnold I
Arnold II 1151-1154 co-Count, son of Robert I
Robert II 1154-1159 son of Robert I

Counts of Laurenburg-Nassau 1154-1255

Though actually Walram I was the first Count o Nassau, Henry II is mentioned as the first official Count.

Henry II the Rich 1190-1251, Count of Nassau 1198-1247

Henry II the Rich (Heinrich II der Reiche, in Dutch Hendrik II de Rijke) was the eldest son of Count Walram I of Nassau. Upon his father’s death in 1198, Henry succeeded him at the age of eight as Count of Nassau. He shared the reign with his younger brother, Robert IV, until 1239.

In the politics of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry was generally a loyal supporter of the Hohenstaufen emperors. However, between 1209 and 1211, he backed the rival Otto IV of Brunswick as emperor, before reverting sides to support Frederick II. Between 1212 and 1214, he held prisoner Frederick's (an his own) opponent, the Archbishop of Trier Theodoric II (also known as Dietssrich of Wied).

Towards the end of the 12th century, his father Walram I had been able to strengthen his power on the lower Lahn. As part of the inheritance of the Counts of Arnstein, he succeeded them as the Archbishopric of Trier's Vogt in Koblenz, Pfaffendorf (now a borough of Koblenz), Niederlahnstein, and Humbach (Montabaur). However, by the 1230s Trier's influence near the Rhine and Lahn had strengthened enough to oust Nassau from the majority of the Archbishopric's vogtships.

The Archbishop had reinforced Montabaur around 1217 in order to protect his possessions on the right bank of the Rhine from Nassau. Henry's father had received the Königshof Wiesbaden from Emperor Frederick I in reward for his support of the emperor in the conflicts of 1170-1180. Nassau’s possessions in this area were expanded around 1214 when Henry received the Imperial Vogtship (Reichsvogtei) over Wiesbaden and the surrounding Königssondergau, which he held as fiefdoms.

In about 1200, Henry, together with his brother Robert IV, began building Sonnenberg Castle on a spur of Spitzkippel peak in the Taunus above Wiesbaden. This was intended for protection against the Archbishopric of Mainz and its vassals, the Lords of Eppstein, who held the lands bordering Wiesbaden. However, the cathedral chapter of St. Martin in Mainz claimed Sonnenberg as their own. To settle the dispute, Nassau paid 30 Marks to the cathedral chapter in 1221 to acquire the land of Sonnenberg Castle. Henry was also forced to recognize the sovereignty of the Archbishops of Mainz over Sonnenberg, taking the castle as a fief of Mainz.

In 1224, Henry found support from the Archbishop of Cologne, Engelbert II, who made Henry his Marschall (chief military officer) and Schenk (an honorary title that originally meant "cup-bearer"). However, in exchange for his protection from the Archbishops of Mainz and Trier, Henry had to cede half of Siegen to Cologne. Unaffected by this division of rule, however, Nassau retained its sovereign rights in the region surrounding Siegen, where the important High Jurisdiction (hohe Gerichtsbarkeit) and Game Ban (Wildbann) explicitly survived to 1259.

In 1231, Henry attended the Reichstag at Worms and in 1232 was at Emperor Frederick II's imperial assembly in Ravenna. Henry’s brother, Robert IV, had joined the Teutonic Order in 1230. On his death in 1239, Robert bequeathed his legacy to the Order. Henry continuously disputed any division of his realm with the Teutonic Order. Henry also held the Upper Vogtship over the Diocese of St. George in Limburg an der Lahn during the construction of the Limburg Cathedral.

In 1239 he transferred, at the request of his vassal Friedrich of Hain, the income of the Netphen parishes to the Premonstratensian Keppel Abbey near Hilchenbach. His descendants took over the patronage of the monastery. In 1247, he supported the election of Anti-King William II of Holland, who confirmed all of Henry’s imperial possessions and gave him the right to mint money. Henry's policies in the Herborner Mark angered the local aristocratic families.

Around 1240, Henry II built Dillenburg Castle to better subjugate the dissidents. By 1248, the century-long Dernbacher Feud had already begun, involving Hesse as well in the context of the War of the Thuringian Succession.(an over one-hundred year long (c. 1230-1333)ongoing dispute between the House of Nassau, several knightly families, and the Landgrave of Hesse).

Henry died on January 25, 1251, after having abdicated in 1247 in favor of his son Otto I.

Before 1221, Henry married Matilda of Guelders (German: Mathilde von Geldern; died after 1247), daughter of Otto I, Count of Guelders and Zutphen and Richardis of Bavaria (herself daughter of Otto I Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria). Eleven children were born, including :

  1. Walram II of Nassau (c.1220-1276)
  2. Robert (Ruprecht) V, died January 19, before 1247 - fought Diez and Ober-Lahnstein on behalf of the Archbishop of Trier, was a Knight of the Teutonic Order
  3. Henry (Heinrich), became a monk in Arnstein Abbey in 1247 (died May 28, year unknown)
  4. Otto I of Nassau, born c.1224 (reigned jointly with his elder brother Walram II until 1255. After this time the brothers separated the County, Otto became Count of  Nassau in Dillenburg, Hadamar, Siegen, Herborn and Beilstein (1255-1290)
  5. Elizabeth (born c.1225, married Gerhard III, Lord of Eppstein (died c.1250). Her death date is reported variously as "after January 6 or March 6, 1295 or in 1306
  6. Gerhard, mentioned in a charter from November 21 1259, archdeacon of Kempen, canon of St. Lambert in Liege, dean of the cathedral chapter of Our Lady in Maastricht, Aachen Cathedral, and St. Walburg in Tiel, buried in Aachen. His death date is reported variously as May 2 or 4, 1311
  7. John I (Jan van Nassau), c.1230-1309, Bishop-Elect of Utrecht (1267–1290), died July 13, 1309 in Deventer and was buried at St. Lebuinuskerk Deventer
  8. Catherine (Katharina) (born 1227), became Abbess of Altenburg Abbey in Wetzlar in 1249. Her death date is reported variously as April 27 or 29, 1324.
  9. Jutta (d.1313), married c.1260 to Johann I of Cuijk (Jan I van Cuijk), Lord of Merum (now part of Roermond, d.1308)
Counts of Laurenburg-Nassau 1154-1255
Name Rule time Remarks
Walram I 1154-198 son of Robert I, was the first to be legally Count of Nassau
Henry I 1158-1167 co-Count, son of Arnold I, died in Rome during the August 1167 epidemic (after the Battle of Monte Porzio)
Robert III 1160-1191 co-Count, the Bellico, the Bellicose, son of Arnold I
Henry II, the Rich 1198-1247 son of Walram I
Robert IV 1198-1230 co-Count, son of Walram I, from 1230-1240 Knight of the Teutonic Order.

The Great division of 1255

Walram II and Otto I, divided the Nassau lands between themselves on December 17, 1255. This first division of the Nassau Countries was later known as the “Great division.” This began the separate Walramian and Ottonian lines of the House of Nassau. Both lines would often themselves be divided over the next few centuries.

The Walramian line

Walram II began the Countship of Nassau-Weilburg-Wiesbaden-Idstein, which existed to 1816. The Walramian line received the lordship of Merenberg in 1328 and Saarbrücken (by marriage) in 1353. The sovereigns of this house afterwards governed the Duchy of Nassau until 1866 and was continued from 1890 by the branch of Nassau-Weilburg as Grand Duchy in Luxembourg. The succession by the male line became extinct in 1912, but the line continued by the female line until present.

The Ottonian line

Otto I began the Countship of Nassau-Dillenburg-Hademar-Siegen-Herborn-Beilstein, which existed to 1890. The descendants of Otto I became known as the Ottonian Line, which would inherit parts of Nassau in France and the Lowlands. The succession by the male line became extinct in 1890, but in The Netherlands the line was continued by females until present.

Name Rule time Remarks
Otto I 1247-1255 from 1255-1290 Count of Nassau in Dillenburg, Hadamar, Siegen, Herborn and Beilstein
Walram II 1249-1255 from 1255-1276 Count of Nassau in Wiesbaden, Idstein, and Weilburg

The descendants of Walram II became known as the Walramian Line, which became important for the Duke ship of Nassau and Luxembourg.

The Walramian A Line 1255-1912

Counts of Nassau in Wiesbaden, Idstein, and Weilburg 1255-1344

Name Rule time Remarks
Walram II 1255-1276  
Adolf 1276-1298 crowned King of Germany in 1292
Robert VI 1298–1304 co-Count
Walram III 1298-1324 Count of Nassau in Wiesbaden, Idstein, and Weilnau
Gerlach I 1298-1344 Count of Nassau in Wiesbaden, Idstein, Weilburg, and Weilnau

Counts of Nassau-Weilburg 1344-1816

Counts of Weilburg 1344-1688
Name Rule time Remarks
John I 1344-1371  
Philipp I 1371-1429 from 1381 Count of Saarbrücken
John III 1429-1442  
Philipp II 1442-1492  
Louis I 1492-1523  
Philipp III 1523-1559  
Albrecht 1559-1593  
Philipp IV 1559-1602  
Louis II 1593-1625 Count of Nassau-Weilburg and in Ottweiler, Saarbrücken, Wiesbaden, and Idstein
Ernst Casimir 1625-1655 Not to be confused with Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietssz.
Frederick 1655-1675  
John Ernst 1675-1688  
Princely Counts of Nassau-Weilburg 1688-1816
Name Rule time Remarks
John Ernst 1688-1719  
Charles August 1719-1753  
Charles Christian 1753-1788 Married on 5 March 1760 Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau (1743-1787), daughter of William IV, Prince of Orange
Frederick William 1788-1816 From 1806 Prince of Nassau
William (Wilhelm) 1816-1839 Prince of Nassau-Weilburg and Duke of Nassau
Nassau-Weilburg merged into Duchy of Nassau
Dukes of Nassau 1816-1866
Name Rule time Remarks
Adolf 1839-1866 Duke of Nassau-Weiburg, became Grand Duke of Luxembourg in 1890
Annexed by Prussia 1866

In 1866, Prussia annexed the Duchy of Nassau as the Duke had been an ally of Austria in the Second Austro-Prussian War. In 1890, Duke Adolf would become Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg.

Grand Dukes of Luxemboug (from the House of Nassau-Weilburg) - 1890-Present
Name Rule time Remarks
Adolphe (Adolf) 1890–1905 Duke of Nassau until 1866
William IV 1905–1912 Left no male heir
Extinct 1912
Marie-Adélaïde 1912–1919 The first female
Charlotte 1919–1964 Duchess
Jean 1964–2000  
Henri 2000–present  

From a morganatic marriage, contracted in 1868, descends a family, Count of Merenberg, which in 1907 was declared non-dynastic. Had they not been excluded from the succession, they would have inherited the headship of the house in 1912.

The Walramian B Line 1344-1816, Counts of Nassau-Wiesbaden and Idstein

Counts of Wiesbaden-Idstein 1344-1775
Name Rule time Remarks
Adolf I 1344-1370 co-Count of assau, Count of Wiesbaden-Idtein
Gerlach 1370-138 co-Count
Walram IV 130-1393  
Adolf II 139-1426  
Johann 1426-148  
Adolf III 1480-1511  
Philipp I 1511-1558  
Philipp II 1558-1566 Count of Nassau-Idstein
Balthasar 1566-1568 Count of Nassau-Idstein
Johann Ludwig I 1568-1596 co-Count
Johann Philipp 1596-159 co-Count
Johann Ludwi II 1596-1605  
Ludwig II 1605-1625  
Johann 1625-1677 Count of Nassau-Idstein, and (from 1651) inWiesbaden, Sonnenberg, Wehen, Bug-Schwalbach and Lahr
Georg Augut Samuel 1677-1721 Prince of Nassu-Saarbrücken-Idstein 1688-1721
Friedrich Ludwig 1721-1728 Count o Nassau-Ottweiler (1680-1728), and in Rixingen (1703-28), and in Wiesbaden, Idstein, etc (1721-28)
Karl Ludwig 1728-1735  
Karl 1735-1775 Left no male heir
Extinct 1775
Counts of Saarbrücken 1429-1799
Name Rule time Remarks
John II 1429-1472  
John Louis I 1472-1545  
Philipp II 1545-1554  
Philipp IV 1554-1602  
Louis II 1602-1625 Count of Saarbrücken and Ottweiler
Wilhelm Ludwig 1625-1640 Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken and Ottweiler
Kraft 1640-1642 co-Count
Johann Ludwig 1640-1690 Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken and (1659-80) in Ottweiler, Jungenheim, and Wцllstein
Gustav Adolf 1659-1677 co-Count
Ludwig Kraft 1677-1713 co-Count until 1690
Karl Ldwig 1713-1735  
Wilhem Heinich 1735-1768 Prince
 Ludwig 1768-1794  
Heinrich Ludwig 1794-1799 He had no heir, only a daughter, Marie Françoise de St. Maurice princess of Montbarey 1761-1838
Extinct 1799
Counts of Usingen 1659-1816
Name Rule time Remarks
Walrad 1659-1702 Prince
Wilhelm Heinrich 1702-1718  
Karl 1718-1775  
? 1775-1797  
Karl Wilhelm 1797-1803  
Friedrich August 1803-1816 He had no heir, only a daughter, Luise princess of Waldeck
Extinct 1816

The Ottonian line of Nassau and Nassau-Dillenburg

The House of Nassau

Blason famille de Nassau
Coat of Arms of the Counts of Laurenburg and Nassau
Part 2

The Ottonian line of Nassau 1255-1544

For further reading : Lines colored in :

ORANGE = line from Dudo-Henry to William III, 1093 - 1702, straight Male succession.

YELLOW = line from John VI "the Eder" to King William III of the Netherlands, 1559 - 1890, straight Male succession.

PINK= line from Queen Wilhelmina to Queen Beatrix, 1890 - present, Female succession.

Otto I began the Countship of Nassau-Dillenburg-Hademar-Siegen-Herborn-Beilstein, which existed to 1890. The descendants of Otto I became known as the Ottonian Line, which would inherit parts of Nassau in France and the Lowlands. The succession by the male line became extinct in 1890, but in The Netherlands the line was continued by females until present.

Walram II and Otto I, divided the Nassau lands between themselves on December 17, 1255. This first division of the Nassau areas was later known as the “Great division.” This began the separate Walramian and Ottonian lines of the House of Nassau.

Otto I of Nassau c. 1224-1290, Count of Nassau 1247-1255, Count of Nassau Dillenburg, Hadamar, Siegen, Herborn and Beilstein 1255-1290

Otto I of Nassau (c. 1224–1290), Count of Nassau was the younger son of Count Henry II of Nassau and Matilda of Geldern. Otto I became the Count of Dillenburg, Hadamar, Siegen, Herborn and Beilstein after many years of quarrel with his brother Walram II. In the division of 17 December 1255 he received possessions north to the Lahn. And thus began the geographical and political separation of the House of Nassau.

He became the founder of the Ottonian line of the house. He stood against the local aristocracy, particularly the Counts of Greifenstein and of Dernbach and was for many years banished, since he withheld lands of Teutonic Knights, which his uncle had left to him. His opponents were among other the archbishops of Cologne and Trier, who presented the territorial claims. He lost also the lordships in Emsland and Koblenz.

He married Agnes von Leiningen, daughter of Count Emich IV of Leiningen and had following children:

  1. Henry of Nassau-Siegen (d. 1343), Count in Siegen, Ginsberg, Haiger and in Westerwald since 1303, in Dillenburg, Herborn and Beilstein in 1328-43.
  2. Emicho I of Nassau-Hadamar (d. 7 June 1334) in Driedrof, Estenau and Hadamar.
  3. John of Nassau-Dillenburg (d. 1328), Count in Beilstein and Herborn since 1303, in Katzenelnbogen since 1320.
  4. Mechtild (d. 28 October 1319), married ca. 1289 Gerhard von Schönecken.
  5. Gertrud (d. 19 September 1359), Abbess of Altenberg.

He had also an illegitimate son Heinrich, who was a monk in Arnstein and a priest in Nassau.

Count of Nassau in Siegen, Dillenburg, Beilstein, and Ginsberg
Named Rule time Remarks
Otto I 1255-1290 Founder of the Ottonian line of Nassau

Henry (Heinrich) I of Nassau Siegen, Ginsberg, Haiger and Westerwald 1303-1343 and Count of Dillenburg, Herborn and Beilstein 1320-1343

Henry of Nassau in Siegen was the elder son of Count Otto I of Nassau in Siegen (c.1224-1290) and Agnes von Leunigen. The date of his birth is unknown but because he became Count in 1303,thirteen years after his fathers dead (1290), he must have been a minor, even as his younger brothers Emicho I and John. He was probably born around 1285 and succeeded his father when grown to mans estate, aged 18.

There is no information about his life than only that he married before 1302 with Adelheid von Heinsberg (died 1343), children :

  1. Otto II von Nassau in Siegen and Dillenburg (1343-50), born 1305, died 1351
  2. Hendrik I von Nassau-Beilstein, died 1380, married 1339 Meyna von Westerburg (died 1380)
  3. Agnes, died 1318, married 1314 Gerlach II von Isenburg-Limburg (died 1355)
  4. Katharina, Abbess of Altenberg, d.1334
  5. Gertrud, Abbess of Altenberg (1329-1353)

After Otto's death in 1290 the sons of Otto I of Nassau jointly managed) the County but in 1303 they divided the possessions between his three sons :

  1. Nassau-Siegen undeer Henry I
  2. Nassau-Hadamar under Emicho I
  3. Nassau-Dillenburg under John

In 1328 Nassau-Dillenburg became part of the branch of Nassau-Siegen but they call themselves Nassau-Dillenburg. In 1341 Nassau-Dillenburg was divided into Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Beilstein.

After the extinction of the Nassau-Beilstein branch in 1561, all areas of the Ottonian line on the right bank of the Rhine were reunited under Count John of Nassau-Dillenburg, the younger brother of William I "the silent" of Orange.

Count of Nassau in Siegen, Ginsberg, Haiger, and the Westerwald, and (1328-1343) in Dillenburg, Herborn, and Beilstein
Name Rule time Remarks
Henry (Heinrich) I 1303-1343  
Counts of Nassau-Hadamar 1303-1369
Name Rule time Remarks
Emicho I 1303-1334 Count of Nassau in Driedrof, Estenau, and Hadamar
John 1334-1364 co-Count
Emicho II 1334-1359 co-Count
Henry 1364-1369 co-Count
to Nassau-Dillenburg

Otto II of Nassau 1305-1351, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg 1343-1351

Coat of Arms of the Counts of Nassau 13th century

Otto II of Nassau-Dillenberg (1305-1350) was the son of Henry I of Nassau-Siegen and Adelheid of Heinsberg-Blankenberg. Otto married in 1331 Adelheid (1309-1373), daughter and heiress of Filips II of Vianden, children :

  1. John I of Nassau-Dillenburg 1339-1416, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (1351-1416)
  2. Heinrich, died Kassel 1402
  3. Otto, a canon in Mainz, died 1384
  4. Adelheid, Abbess of Keppel (1378-81).

Counts of Nassau-Dillenburg

John I of Nassau-Dillenburg 1339 -1416, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg 1351-1416

John I of Nassau-Dillenberg was the elder son of Otto II of Nassau-Dillenburg and Adelheid of Vianden. He married in 1357 Margaretha van der Mark-Kleef (?-1409), daughter of Adolf II van der Mark, children :

  1. Adolf (1362-1420) of Nassau-Dillenburg and Diez (1416-1420), married 1st c. 1384 Jutta von Diez (1367-1397), married 2nd 1401 Kunigunde of Isenburg-Limburg (died 1403)
  2. John II "the elder" of Nassau-Dillenburg (1420-1448), died Dillenburg 1448
  3. Engelbrecht I of Nassau-Dillenburg (1370-1442)
  4. Henry, died after 1401
  5. Johann III "the younger" of Nassau-Dillenburg in Greifenstein, died 1433

Engelbrecht I 1370-1442, Lord of Breda 1403-1442

Engelbrecht I of Nassau was the son of Johan I of Nassau-Dillenburg en Margaretha van der Marck-Kleef. Hij studied in Cologne, in 1389 he became dean at Münster until 1399.

He became counselor of the Duke of Brabant, first for Anton of Burgundy, later for his son John IV of Brabant. Engelbrecht also played an important role in the creation of the marriage of John IV, Duke of Brabant and Jacoba of Bavaria, which would eventually lead to the Hook and Cod wars in Holland and Flanders. As a result, in 1430 he eventually joined Philip the Good. Engelbrecht I of Nassau renounced the deanery because his two brothers were childless. He married in Breda on August 1, 1403 with Johanna of Polanen van der Leck (1392 to 1445), the wealthy heiress of Jan van Wassenaar-Polanen, born circa 1350, died 11-08-1394, Lord of Breda. Married twice :

  1. about 1380 with ? van Grimhuijsen, born about 1350, unknown origin.
  2. about 1390 with Odilia van Salm-Ardeneen, born about 1365, died 22-06-1428, daughter of Johann van Salm-Ardeneen and Philippa van Valkenburg. Odilia's legacy included many delights and cities in Holland and Brabant, Hainaut, Utrecht and Zeeland. With this marriage the Line of Nassau-Dillenburg acquired possessions in the Lowlands c. 1390.

Engelbrecht's wife Joanna van Polanen was Baroness of Breda, Lady of Drimmelen in 1411, and Grimbergen. The Polanen were one of the richest families in the Netherlands, after their union with the Duvenvoordes, thus all their titles.

Engelbert I aquired the following titles on his marriage with Johanna of Polanen (August, 1 1403) : Lord of Breda, Lord of Polanen, Lord of Grimbergen, Lord of Geertruiden, Niervaart, Klundert, Oosterhout, Naaldwijk, Steenbergen, Castricum, Monster, Rijswijk, Princenhage, Sprundel, Dongen.

In 1411 : Lord of Drimmelen.

In 1416 : Count of Vianden, Lord of Sankt-Vith, Butgenbach, Daasberg, 1/2 Grimberger, Corry, Frasnes, and Londerzeel.

In 1420 : Count of Nassau in Siegen, Dillenburg, Hadamar, and Herborn.

In 1425 : Count of Nassau in Herborn.

Engelbrecht was also Member of the Council in Brabant, 1405-1406, 1409-1418 and 1421-1442, Member of the Council of Holland from 1405-1420.

Engelbrecht resided at the Castle of Breda. He had also houses in Brussels and Mecheln. He died on May 3, 1442 at Breda and was buried in the Grote or Church of our lady in Breda, children :

  1. John IV 1410-1475, Lord von der Lek and Breda, 1442-1475, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Vianden and Diez (1448-1475), married in 1440 Marie von Loon-Heinsberg (1424-1502), heiress of Millen, Gangelt, Vucht, Lummen and Steijn
  2. Henry II 1414-1451, married first Genoveva van Virneburg and second Irmgard van Schleiden-Junkerath
  3. Margareth 1415-1467, married 1435 Dietssrich I von Sayn (died 1452)
  4. William 1416-?
  5. Maria 1418-1472, married 1437 John II of Nassau-Wiesbaden-Idstein (1419-1480)
  6. Philip 1420-1429

John IV 1410-1475, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Vianden and Diez 1416-1475, Lord of de Leck and Breda 1442-1475

Johm IV was the elder son of Engelbrecht I and Johanna of Polanen van der Leck, he was born 1410, married 1440 Marie von Loon-Heinsberg, heiress of Millen, Gangelt, Vucht, Lummen and Steijn (1424-1502), children :

  1. Engelbert II of Nassau-Dillenburg in Breda (1451-1504), in Diest, Sichem and Zeelhem 1499, VisCount of Antwerp, in Rosendaal, Wouw and Nispen 1501, Stadtholder of the Northern-Lowlands in 1496, Stadtholder of Flanders 1501 and Lille 1486, etc, married in 1468 Zimburg von Baden (1450-1501)
  2. John V of Nassau-Dillenburg, born Breda 1455, died Dillenburg 1516
  3. Anna, died 1513, 1st married 1467 Duke Otto II of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (died 1471), 2nd married 1474 Philipp von Katzenelnbogen (died 1479)
  4. Johanna, 1444-1468, married 1464 Philipp I von Waldeck (died 1475)
  5. Adriane, 1449-1477, married 1468 Philipp III von Hanau-Münzenberg (died 1500)
  6. Ottilie, Prioress at Vredenburg, died at Alkmaar 1495

Johann V 1455-1516, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg, Siegen, Vianden, Dietssz and Lord of Breda 1504-1516, Stadtholder of Guelders and Zutphen 1504-1505

Johann V was born in 1455, married 1482 Elisabeth of Hesse (1466-1523). In 1504 he inherited Vianden and Breda from his brother Engelbert II of Nassau. After his death his son Henry III of Nassau inherited his Dutch possessions. The German possessions went to his son William the Rich. He had the following children:

  1. Heinrich III of Nassau-Breda, born 12 Jan 1483, died 14 Sep 1538
  2. John, born 1484, died 1504
  3. Ernst, born 1486, died ?
  4. William I the Rich of Nassau-Dillenburg, born 10 Apr 1487, died 6 Oct 1559
  5. Elisabeth, born 1488, died 1559
  6. Maria born 1491, died 1547

Henry III of Nassau-Dillenburg 1483-1538,  Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland 1515-1521, Lord and Baron of Breda, Lord of the Leck and Diest 1516-1538

Henry III of Nassau-BredaHenry III was the son of Count John V of Nassau-Dillenburg and Elisabeth of Hesse. His younger brother was William I "the Rich", Count of Nassau-Dillenburg (father of William the Silent).

In 1499 Henry's uncle, Count Engelbert II, invited Henry III to the Burgundian Netherlands as his heir. He travelled with Duke Philip the Handsome to Castile in 1501-1503. Upon the death of his uncle in 1504 Henry inherited the Nassau possessions in the Netherlands, including the wealthy lordship of Breda in the Duchy of Brabant.

The next year (1505) he was chosen a knight of the Golden Fleece. He again travelled to Spain in 1505-1506. He became a close confidant of the young future Emperor Charles V as well as his Chamberlain (1510), becoming his Upper Chamberlain upon the death of William of Croÿ-Chièvres in 1521. The good relation between Charles and Henry is evident in the fact that Charles did not name a new Upper Chamberlain after Henry's death.

In 1519 he was part of the delegation that had Charles chosen king of the Romans. He was also prominently present at Charles' coronation to Emperor in Bologna in 1530. He was a member of the Privy Council of Charles since 1515 and of the Privy Council of Archduchess Margaret of Austria between 1525-1526.

He temporarily served as Stadtholder of the conquered parts of Guelders and was Stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland between 1515 and 1521. Henry was again in Spain between 1522 and 1530 (accompanying Charles) and in 1533-1534 (with his wife Claudia and son Rene of Chalon).

Henry served as an important military commander in the Lowrlands, defending Brabant from Guelders in 1508. He was Captain General in the war with Guelders between 1511 and 1513, and fought with Maximilian of Austria against France until 1514, participating in the battle of Guinegate (1513). He again commanded the armies against Guelders and France between 1516 and 1521, defeating the Black Band (Landsknechts), which was in the employ of Charles of Guelders, in 1518 and defeating Robert van der Marck, Lord of Sedan in 1521. He also repelled Francis I of France, who invaded Hainaut that same year. Subsequently Henry conquered Tournai (Doornik).

Although Henry, who attended the Dietss of Augsburg in 1530, was at first not averse to Martin Luther and his teachings, he later followed Charles' example and remained a staunch Catholic. He didn't approve the choice of his brother William I "the Rich", who did become a Lutheran, but remained supportive of him throughout his life. He was very impressed with the Renaissance and especially its arts, examples of which he enCountered on his journeys to Spain and Italy. For example, he commissioned Italian architect Tomasso Vincidor da Bologna to completely rebuild his castle at Breda in a renaissance style in 1536, one of the first of such buildings north of the Alps. However, his interests seem to have been superficial. Desiderius Erasmus only considered him a "platonic friend of science".

Henry married three times:

  1. Louise-Françoise of Savoy, 1503-1511
  2. Claudia of Châlon 1498-1521, in May 1515, daughter of Jean II of Chalon, died 1502, who married Philiberte of Luxembourg
  3. Mencia de Mendoza y Fonseca 1508-1544) in June 1524

With Claudia of Châlon he had one son, René of Chlon, born February 5, 1519), who became prince of Orange in 1530 on the death of Claudia's brother Philibert. Henry had no further legitimate children, although he is known to have had some bastard offspring. Upon his death in 1538 he was succeeded by his only son, but René was himself slain in battle only a few years later in 1544.

His marriage to Mencia de Mendoza y Fonseca was mainly encouraged by Charles V, as part of his plan to make the nobility of Spain and the Low Countries mix. Henry was however never really liked by the Spaniards, who regarded him as a loud and barbarian German parvenu.

Henry was buried beneath the huge grave monument he had erected for his uncle Engelbrecht II in the Grote Kerk at Breda, children :

  1. René of Chalon

Rene of Chalon 1519-1544, Prince of Orange 1530-1544, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg 1538-1544, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht 1540-1544 and Gelre 1543-1544

Rene van ChalonRené of Châlon (5 February 1519 – 15 July 1544), also known as Renatus of Châlon, was a Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Gelre. He was born in Breda as the only son of Count Henry III of Nassau-Breda and Claudia of Châlon. Her brother, Philibert of Châlon, was the last Prince of Orange from the house of Châlon. When Henry III died in 1530, René inherited the Princedom on condition that he used the name and coat of arms of the Châlon.

History knows him therefore as René of Châlon instead of "of Nassau-Breda". René of Châlon married, on 20 August 1540, at Bar-le-Duc with Anna of Lorraine (1522-1568). They had a daughter, Maria, who lived only 3 weeks and was buried in the "Grote Kerk", Breda. While in the service of Emperor Charles V he was killed during the siege of Saint-Dizier in 1544. The Emperor was at his deathbed. René of Châlon was buried in the Grote Kerk at Breda. In the church of Saint Etienne at Bar-le-Duc is a cenotaph for him. He left no children and all his possessions were transferred to the elder son of his uncle William I "the rich" of Nassau-Dillenburg.

Although William I "the Rich" of Nassau-Dillenburg was the legal heir to the possessions of Rene of Chalon after his dead in 1544, Emperor Charles V interfered and Rene's possessions went to his elder son William "the Silent" on condition that he would come to Brussels and educated at his court, most likely because William  "the Rich" was a Lutheran. William of Nassau-Dillenburg inherited all of René’s lands. Thus, William I of Orange, (in English better known as William the Silent) became the founder of the House of Orange-Nassau (see later).

William I "the Rich" 1487-1559, Count of Vianden and Dietz 1516-1559, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg 1544-1559

WillemderijkeWilliam of Nassau (Dutch: Willem de Rijke) (10 April 1487– 6 October 1559). He was called William "the Rich". William was born in Dillenburg as the younger son of Count John V of Nassau-Dillenburg and landgravine Elisabeth of Hesse, daughter of Landgrave Henry III of Hesse-Marburg and Anna of Katzenelnbogen.

He was the brother of Count Henry III of Nassau-Breda and the father of the later William I of Orange-Nassau, who inherited the principality of Orange. The early House of Orange-Nassau (until 1702) descends from him, while the later House of Orange-Nassau (1702-1890) and the present Dutch royal family descends from his third son John VI "the Elder". William I was married twice :

First he married October 29, 1506 Countess Walburga van Egmond (1490–1529). She gave him two daughters:

  1. Elisabeth, 1515–1523
  2. Magdalene, 1522–1567, married July,16 1538 to Count Hermann of Neuenahr and Mörs

Second he married September 20, 1531 Countess Juliane of Stolberg-Wernigerode (1506–1580). They had twelve children:

  1. William I (Maurice) "the Silent" of Nassau, born 25 April 1533, died 10 July 1584
  2. Hermanna, born 9 August 1534, died young
  3. John VI "the Elder", born 22 November 1536 – 28 October 1606
  4. Louis, born 10 January 1538 – 14 April 1574, killed in fighting in the 80 Years War
  5. Maria, born 15 March 1539 – May 1599, married on 11 November 1556 to Count Wilhelm IV of Berg-s'Heerenberg
  6. Adolf, born 11 July 1540 – 23 May 1568, killed in fighting in the 80 Years War
  7. Anna, born (21 September 1541 – 12 February 1616, married on 16 June 1559 to Count Albrecht of Nassau-Weilburg-Ottweile
  8. Elisabeth, 25 September 1542 – 18 November 1603), married 16 June 1559 to Count Conrad of Solms-Braunfels
  9. Catharina, born 19 December 1542 – 25 December 1624), married on 17 November 1560 to Count Günther XLI of Schwarzburg-Arnstadt
  10. Juliana, born 10 August 1546 – 31 August 1588), married 14 June 1575 to Count Albrecht VII of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
  11. Magdalena, born 15 December 1547 – 16 May 1633), married on 27 January 1567 to Count Wolfgang of Hohenlohe-Weikersheim
  12. Henry, born 15 October 1550 – 14 April 1574, killed in fighting in the 80 Years War

John VI "the Elder" 1536-1606, Count of Nassau-Dillenburg and Dietz 1559-1606, Stadtholder of Guelders and Zutphen 1578-1581

Jan de OudeProgenitor of the Nassau-Dietz line

John VI of Nassau-Dillenburg was born November 22, 1535. Other names he had were Jan VI or Jan de Oude. John VI was the second son of Count William I of Nassau-Dillenburg and his second wife Juliane of Stolberg-Wernigerode and brother of William I of Orange.

Count John VI of Nassau was the principal author of the Union of Utrecht, signed on 23 January 1579, unifying the Northern-Lowlands, until then under the control of Habsburg Spain. The treaty was a reaction of the Northern-Provinces to the in 1579 signed Union of Arras (Dutch: Unie van Atrecht), in which the Southern-Provinces of the Lowlands (French speaking part of modern Belgium and Northern France) declared their support for Roman Catholic Spain.

The treaty was signed on 23 January by Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht (but not all of Utrecht) and the province (but not the city) of Groningen. On February 4, 1579 Ghent also signed. In March some cities from Friesland joined it, as well as 3/4 quarters of Guelders. In the summer, Amersfoort from the province of Utrecht also joined, together with Ypres, Antwerp, Breda and Brussels. In February 1580, Lier, Bruges and the surrounding area also signed the Union. The city of Groningen shifted in favor under influence of the Stadtholder for Friesland, George van Rennenberg (de Lalaing), and also signed the treaty. Later on, Zutphen also signed so did Guelders (of which Zutphen is one of the quarters) supported the Union completely. This happened in April 1580, as did the signing of Overijssel and Drenthe.

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 Twelve Years' Truce in 1609.

John VI died on October 8, 1606 in Dillenburg and was buried there. John VI was married three times and had a total of 24 children.

First, he was married on June 16, 1559 with Elisabeth of Leuchtenberg (1537–1579) and had in this marriage the following children :

  1. William Louis "Us Heit, our father)", 13 March 1560 – 31 May 1620, Count of Nassau, Stadtholder of Frisia 1584, Drenthe 1593 and Groningen 1594, married Anna, his niece, (1563-1588), daughter of William I "the Silent" of Orange-Nassau
  2. John VII "the Middle" of Nassau-Siegen, 7 June 1561 – 27 September 1623, Count of Nassau-Siegen, married 1st 1581 Magdalena of Waldeck (1558-1599), widow of Philipp Ludwig I of Hanau-Münzenberg (1553-1580), a grandson of Juliana of Stolberg-Wenigerode, married 2nd 1603 Margaretha of Holstein-Sonderburg (1583-1658). He had 25 children
  3. George "the Old" of Nassau-Dillenburg, 1 September 1562 – 9 August 1623, Count of Nassau-Beilstein, married 1st 1584 Anna Amalia of Nassau-Saarbrücken (1565-1605), married 2nd 1605 Amalia of Sayn-Wittgenstein (1585-1633), line of Nassau-Dillenburg. He had 15 children by his 1st wife and only one by his 2nd.
  4. Elisabeth, 24 January 1564 – 5 May 1611, married 1st on 3 October 1583 with Count Philipp IV of Nassau-Saarbrücken (1542-1602), 2nd on 7 May 1603 to Count Wolfgang Ernst I of Isenburg-Büdingen (1560-1633)
  5. Juliana, 6 October 1565 – 4 October 1630, married 1st on 24 April 1588 with Wild and Rheingraf Adolf Henry of Salm-Dhaun (1557-1606), 2nd on 8 February 1619 with Count John Albrecht I of Solms-Braunfels (1563-1623)
  6. Philip, 1 December 1566 – 3 September 1595, fought for the United Provinces during the Eighty Years' War
  7. Maria, 12 November 1568 – 10 May 1625, married on 2 December 1588 with Count John Louis I of Nasau-Wiesbaden-Idstein, 1567-1596, he died falling out of a window
  8. Anna Sibylla, 29 September 1569 – 19 December 1576
  9. Mathilde, 27 December 1570 – 10 May 1625, married on 24 June 1592 with Count Wilhelm V of Mansfeld-Arnstein(1555-1615)
  10. Albert, born and died in 1572
  11. Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietsz, 22 December 1573 – 2 June 1632, Count of Nassau-Dietz
  12. Louis Günther, 15 February 1575 – 12 September 1604, married 1601 Anna Margaretha of Manderscheidt-Blankenheim (1606).

Second, he married on 13 September 1580 with Kunigunde Jakoba of Simmern of The Palts (1556-1586) and had in this marriage two daughters:

  1. Amalie, 27 July 1582 – 31 October 1635, married on 23 August 1600 with Count Wilhelm I of Solms-Braunsfeld-Greiffenstein, 1570-1635
  2. Kunigunde, 12 July 1583 – 4 April 1584

Third, he married on 14 June 1586 to Johannetta of Sayn-Witgenstein (1561-1622) and had in this marriage the following children:

  1. Georg Ludwig, born and died in 1588
  2. Prince John Louis of Nassau-Hadamar, 6 August 1590 – 10 March 1653
  3. Johannette Elisabeth, 13 February 1593 – 13 September 1654, married on 16 December 1616 to Count Conrad Gumprecht of Bentheim-Limburg
  4. Anna, 24 November 1594 – 11 February 1660, married on 19 June 1619 to Count Philipp Ernst of Isenburg-Birstein
  5. Magdalena, 13 November 1595 – 31 July 1633, married on 29 May 1624 to Count Georg Albrecht I of Erbach
  6. Anna Amalie, 19 July 1599 – 4 May 1667, married on 25 November 1648 to Count Wilhelm Otto of Isenburg-Birstein
  7. Juliana, born and died in 1602

Recapitulation of the Counts of Nassau until 1606

Counts of Nassau-Dillenburg 1303-1606
Named Rule time Remarks
John (Johann) 1303-1328 Count of Nassau-Dillenburg in Beilstein and Herborn, and (from 1320) in Katzenelnbogen
Henry I (Heinrich) 1328-1343  
Otto II 1343-1350  
John I 1350-1416  
Adolf 1416-1420  
John II 1420-1448  
Engelbert I 1420-1442  
Henry (Heinrich) II 1442-1451  
John IV 1448-1475  
Engelbert II 1475-1504 Childless deceased, posessions to Henry III
Johann V 1504-1516  
Henry III 1516-1538 Nassau-Breda
Rene of Chalon 1538-1544 Nassau-Orange
William I "the Rich" 1544-1559 Father of William I of Orange-Nassau
John VI "the elder" 1559-1606 Father of Ernst Casimir of Nassau-Dietssz, the present Dutch royal family descends from his grandson Johan Willem Friso.

Edmundson, Contents










I. The Bugundian Netherlands

II. Habsburg Rule in the Netherlands

III. The Prelude to the Revolt

IV. The Revolt of the Netherlands

V. William the Silent

VI. The Beginnings of the Dutch Republic

VII. The System of Government

VIII. The Twelve Years' Truce

IX. Maurice and Oldenbarneveldt

X. From the end of the Twelve Years' Truce to the Peace of Munster, 1621-1648. The Stadtholder ate of Frederick Henry of Orange

XI. The East and West India Companies. Commercial and Economic Expansion

XII. Letters, Science and Art

XIII. The Stadtholder ate of William II. The Great Assembly

XIV. Rise of John de Witt. The First English War

XV. The Administration of John de Witt, 1654-1665, from the Peace of Westminster to the Out-break of the Second English War

XVI. The last years of De Witt's Administration, 1665-1672. The Second English War. The Triple Alliance. The French Invasion

XVII. War with France and England. William III, Stadtholder. Murder of the brothers De Witt, 1672

XVIII. The Stadtholder ate of William III, 1672-1688

XIX. The King-Stadtholder , 1688-1702

XX. The War of the Spanish Succession and the Treaties of Utrecht, 1702-1715

XXI. The Stadtholder less Republic, 1715-1740

XXII. The Austrian Succession War and William IV, 1740-1751

XXIII. The Regency of Anne and of Brunswick, 1751-1766

XXIV. William V. First Period, 1766-1780

XXV. Stadtholder ate of William V (continued), 1780-1788. The English War. Patriot Movement. Civil War. Prussian Intervention.

XXVI. The Orange Restoration. Downfall of the Republic, 1788-1795

XXVII. The Batavian Republic, 1795-1806

XXVIII. The Kingdom of Holland and the French Annexation, 1806-1814

XXIX. The Formation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1814-1815

XXX. The Kingdom of the Netherlands--Union of Holland and Belgium, 1815-1830

XXXI. The Belgian Revolution. The Separation of Holland and Belgium, 1830-1842

XXXII. William I abdicates. Reign of William II. Revision of the Constitution, 1842-1849

XXXIII. Reign of William III to the death of Thorbecke, 1849-1872

XXXIV. The later reign of William III, and the Regency of Queen Emma, 1872-1898

XXXV. The Reign of Queen Wilhelmina, 1898-1917





Edmundson, Chapter 36







The dynastic connection of Luxemburg with Holland ceased with the accession of Queen Wilhelmina. The conditions under which the Belgian province of Luxemburg was created, by the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, a grand-duchy under the sovereignty of the head of the House of Orange-Nassau with succession in default of heirs-male by the family compact, known as the Nassauischer Erbverein , to the nearest male agnate of the elder branch of the Nassau family, have already been related. With the death of William III the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau became extinct; and the succession passed to Adolphus, Duke of Nassau-Weilburg. How unfortunate and ill-advised was the action of the Congress of Vienna in the creation of the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg was abundantly shown by the difficulties and passions which it aroused in the course of the negotiations for the erection of Belgium into an independent state (1830-39). By the treaty of April 19, 1839, the Walloon portion of Luxemburg became part of the kingdom of Belgium, but in exchange for this cession the grand-Duke obtained the sovereignty of a strip of the Belgian province of Limburg. This caused a fresh complication.

Luxemburg in 1815 was not merely severed from the Netherlands; it, as a sovereign grand-duchy, was made a state of the Germanic confederation. By virtue of the exchange sanctioned by the treaty of 1839, the ceded portion of Limburg became a state of the confederation. But with the revision of the Dutch constitution, which in 1840 followed the final separation of Holland and Belgium, by the wish of the king his duchy of Limburg was included in the new Fundamental Law, and thus became practically a Dutch province. The Limburgers had thus a strange and ambiguous position. They had to pay taxes, to furnish military contingents and to send deputies to two different sovereign authorities. This state of things continued with more or less friction, until the victory of Prussia over Austria in 1866 led to the dissolution of the Germanic confederation. At the conference of London, 1867, Luxemburg was declared to be an independent state, whose neutrality was guaranteed [pg.430] by the Great Powers, while Limburg became an integral portion of the kingdom of the Netherlands.

Since the middle of the last century the financial position of Holland has been continuously improving. The heavy indebtedness of the Country, in the period which followed the separation from Belgium, was gradually diminished. This was effected for a number of years by the doubtful expedient of the profits derived from the exploitation of the East Indian colonies through the "Cultivation System." With the passing of the revised Fundamental Law of 1848 the control of colonial affairs and of the colonial budget was placed in the hands of the States-General; and a considerable section of the Liberal party began henceforth to agitate for the abolition of a system which was very oppressive to the Javanese population. It was not, however, until 1871 that the reform was carried out. Meanwhile, chiefly by the efforts of Thorbecke, the methods of home finance had been greatly improved by the removal, so far as possible, of indirect imposts, and the introduction of a free trade policy, which since his days has been steadily maintained. Such a policy is admirably suitable to a Country which possesses neither minerals nor coal [15], and whose wealth is mainly due to sea-or river-borne trade, to dairy farming and to horticulture. For its supply of corn and many other necessary commodities Holland has to look to other Countries. The fisheries still form one of the staple industries of the land, and furnish a hardy sea-faring population for the considerable mercantile marine, which is needed for constant intercourse with a colonial empire (the third in importance at the present time) consisting chiefly of islands in a far-distant ocean.

Between 1850 and 1914, 375,430,000 fl. have been devoted to the reduction of debt; and the Sinking Fund in 1915 was 6,346,000 fl. Since that date Holland has suffered from the consequences of the Great War, but, having successfully maintained her neutrality, she has suffered relatively far less than any of her neighbours. Taxation in Holland has always been high. It is to a large extent an artificial Country; and vast sums have been expended and must always be expended in the upkeep of the elaborate system of dykes and canals, by which the waters of the ocean and the rivers are controlled and prevented from flooding large areas of land lying below sea level.

Culture in Holland is widely diffused. The well-to-do classes [pg.431] usually read and speak two or three languages beside their own; and the Dutch language is a finished literary tongue of great flexibility and copiousness. The system of education is excellent. Since 1900 attendance at the primary schools between the ages of six and thirteen is compulsory. Between the primary schools intermediate education ( middelbaaronderwijs ) is represented by "burgher night-schools" and "higher burgher schools." The night-schools are intended for those engaged in agricultural or industrial work; the "higher schools" for technical instruction, and much attention is paid to the study of the vier talen —French, English, German and Dutch. In connection with these there is an admirable School of Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry at Wageningen in Gelderland. To the teaching at Wageningen is largely due the acknowledged supremacy of Holland in scientific horticulture. There is a branch establishment at Groningen for agricultural training, and another at Deventer for instruction in subjects connected with colonial life. The gymnasia , which are to be found in every town, are preparatory to the universities. The course lasts six years; and the study of Latin and Greek in addition to modern languages is compulsory. There are four universities, Leyden, Utrecht, Groningen and Amsterdam. The possession of a doctor's degree at one of these universities is necessary for magistrates, physicians, advocates, and for teachers in the gymnasia and higher burgher schools.

In so small a Country the literary output is remarkable, and, marked as it is by scientific and intellectual distinction, deserves to be more widely read. The Dutch are justly proud of the great part their forefathers played during the War of Independence, and in the days of John de Witt and William III. For scientific historical research in the national archives, and in the publication of documents bearing upon and illustrating the national annals, Dutch historians can compare favourably with those of any other Country. Special mention should be made of the labours of Robert Fruin, who may be described as the founder of a school with many disciples, and whose collected works are a veritable treasure-house of brilliant historical studies, combining careful research with acute criticism. Among his many disciples the names of Dr P.J. Blok and Dr H.T. Colenbrander are perhaps the best known.

In the department of Biblical criticism there have been in Holland several writers of European repute, foremost among whom stands the name of Abraham Kuenen. [pg.432]

Dutch writers of fiction have been and are far more numerous than could have been expected from the limited number of those able to read their works. In the second half of the 19th century, J. van Lennep and Mevrouw Bosboom-Toussaint were the most prolific writers. Both of these were followers of the Walter Scott tradition, their novels being mainly patriotic romances based upon episodes illustrating the past history of the Dutch people. Van Lennep's contributions to literature were, however, by no means confined to the writing of fiction, as his great critical edition of Vondel's poetical works testifies. Mevrouw Bosboom-Toussaint's novels were not only excellent from the literary point of view, but as reproductions of historical events were most conscientiously written. Her pictures, for instance, of the difficult and involved period of Leicester's governor-generalship are admirable. The writings of Douwes Dekker (under the pseudonym Multatuli) are noteworthy from the fact that his novel Max Havelaar , dealing with life in Java and setting forth the sufferings of the natives through the "cultivation system," had a large share in bringing about its abolition.

The 20th century school of Dutch novelists is of a different type from their predecessors and deals with life and life's problems in every form. Among the present-day authors of fiction, the foremost place belongs to Louis Conperus, an idealist and mystic, who as a stylist is unapproached by any of his contemporaries.

No account of modern Holland would be complete without a notice of the great revival of Dutch painting, which has taken place in the past half century. Without exaggeration it may indeed be said that this modern renascence of painting in Holland is not unworthy to be compared with that of the days of Rembrandt. The names of Joseph Israels, Hendrik Mesdag, Vincent van Gogh, Anton Maure, and, not least, of the three talented brothers Maris, have attained a wide and well-deserved reputation. And to these must be added others of high merit: Bilders, Scheffer, Bosboom, Rochussen, Bakhuysen, Du Chattel, De Haas and Haverman. The traditional representation of the Dutchman as stolid, unemotional, wholly absorbed in trade and material interests, is a caricature. These latter-day artists, like those of the 17th century, conclusively prove that the Dutch race is singularly sensitive to the poetry of form and colour, and that it possesses an inherited capacity and power for excelling in the technical qualities of the painter's art.


 [1]Hollandais, Holländer, Olandesi, Olandeses, etc.

 [2]In French books and documents, Jacqueline.


 [4]By English and French writers generally translated Grand Pensionary.

 [5]It must be remembered that the States-General and the Holland Estates sat in the same building.

 [6]Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations , I, 101.

 [7]Busken Huet, Land van Rembrant , III, 175.

 [8]Acte van Seclusie.

 [9]Nassauischer Erbverein.

 [10]Charles White, The Belgic Revolution , 1835, vol. 1, p. 106.

 [11]Correspondence sécrète des Pays-Bas . Julian received his report of the conversation direct from Count Bylandt by permission of the king.

 [12]From Van Maanen's private papers. See Colenbrander's Belgische Omwenteling , p. 139.

 [13]The ratification by the Powers took place on the following dates:—France and Great Britain, January 31; Austria and Prussia, April 18; Russia, May 4, 1832.

 [14]The Prince of Orange had married Anna Paulovna, sister of Alexander I, in 1816.

 [15]The Belgian coal field extends into Dutch Limburg.





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MULLER, P. L. Wilhelm III von Oranien und Georg Friedrich van Waldeck. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kampfes um das Euro-paische Gleichgewicht, 1679-92. 2 vols. The Hague. 1872-80.
Nederland en de Groote Keurvorst. The Hague. 1879.

MUTZUKURI, G. Englisch-Niederländische Unionsstrebungen im Zeit-alter Cromwell's. Tubingen. 1891.

SIRTEMA DE GROVESTINS. Guillaume III et Louis XIV. 8 vols. Paris. 1868.

TREITSCHKE, H. VON. Die Republik der Vereinigten Niederlande. Historische und politische Aufsatze. 4 vols. Leipzig. 1870.


BAUMGÄRTNER, ALEXANDER. Joost van den Vondel, zijn leven en zijne werken. (Trs. from German.) Amsterdam. 1886.

BRANDT, C. Leven en bedrijf van Michiel De Ruyter. Amsterdam. 1687.

DALTON, C. Life and times of Sir Edward Cecil, VisCount Wimbledon, Colonel of an English Regiment in the Dutch Service, 1605-31.
2 vols. London. 1885.

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MARKHAM, C.B. The fighting Veres. Lives of Sir Francis Vere and Sir Horace Vere, successively generalsof the Queen's forces in the Low Countries. Boston. 1888.

MICHEL, E. Rembrandt, sa vie, son oeuvre et son temps. Paris. 1893.

MOTLEY, J. L. Life and death of John of Barneveldt. 2 vols. The Hague. 1874.

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SCHOTEL, G. D. J. Anna Maria van Schuurman. 'sHertogenbosch. 1853.

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DEVENTER, M. L. v. Geschiedenis der Nederlanders op Java. 2 vols. Haarlem. 1886-7.

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EDMUNDSON, G. The Dutch Power in Brazil (1) The struggle for Bahia, 1624-7. (2) The First Conquests.
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---- Geschiedenis der koloniale politiek. Utrecht. 1868.

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BRINK, J. TEN. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Letterkunde. Amsterdam. 1897.

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KONING, J. Geschiedenis van het Slot te Muiden en Hooft's leven op hetselve. Amsterdam. 1827.

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MÜLLER, LUCIAN. Geschichte der klassischen Philologie in den Niederlanden. Leipzig. 1869.

SIEGENBEEK, M. Geschiedenis van der Leidsche Hooge School. Leyden. 1829-32.

STRAETEN, E. VAN DER. La musique aux Pays-Bas avant le 19’e siècle. Brussels. 1872.

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WYBRANTS, C. E. Het Amsterdamsch tooneel. Amsterdam. 1875.


BRANDT, G. Historic der reformatie en andere kerkelijke geschiedennissen in en omtrent de Nederlanden tot 1600. 4 vols. Amsterdam. 1677-1704.

CHATELAIN, N. Histoire du Synode de Dordrecht dès 1609 à 1619.
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FRUIN, R. De wederopluiking van het Katholicisme in Noord-Nederland omtrent den aanvang der 17'e eeuw. Amsterdam. 1894.

KNUTTEL, W.P.C. De toestand der Nederl. Katholieken ten tijde der Republiek. 2 vols. The Hague. 1892-4.

MONTANUS, A. Kerkelijke historic van Nederland. Amsterdam. 1675.

MONTIJN, G.G. Geschiedenis der Hervorming in de Nederlanden. 5 vols. Arnhem. 1858-64.

NUIJENS, W.J.F. Geschiedenis der kerkelijke en politieke geschillen in de Republiek der Zeven Vereen. Prov., 1598-1625. 2 vols. Amsterdam. 1886.

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VEEN, A.J. V.D. Remonstranten en Contra-Remonstranten. 2 vols. Sneek. 1858.


( a ) ORIGINAL AUTHORITIES AND COLLECTIONS OF DOCUMENTS Actes, Mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la paix d'Utrecht. 6 vols. Utrecht. 1714-15.

BOWDLER, T. Letters written in Holland in the months of September and October, 1787, to which is added a Collection of letters and other papers relating to the journey of the Princess of Orange on June 29, 1787. London. 1788.

Brieven en negotiatien van L.L. van de Spiegel. Amsterdam. 1803.

Brieven van Prins Willem V aan Baron v. Leynden. The Hague. 1893.

DE JONGE, J.K.J. Documents politiques et diplomatiques sur les revolutions de 1787 et 1795 dans la republique des Provinces Unies. (Ned. Rijk's Archief.) The Hague. 1859.

Lettres et mémoires sur la conduite de la présente guerre et sur les negotiations de paix, jusqu'à la fin des conferences de Geertruidenbergh. 2 vols. The Hague. 1711-12.

LINGUET, S.N.H. Lettres au Comte de Trauttmansdorf, ministre plenipotentiaire par Empereur [Joseph II] aux Pays-Bas, 1788 et 1789. Brussels. 1790.

MAGUETTE, F. Joseph II et la liberté de l'Escaut. Mémoires couronnés et autres Mémoires publiés par l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Belgique. Vol. xv. Brussels. 1898.

Malmesbury, Diaries and Correspondence of James Harris, Earl of. 4 vols. London. 1844.

MANDRILLON, J.H. Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire de la Révolution des Provinces Unies en 1787. Paris. 1791.

Marlborough, Despatches of John, Duke of. Ed. Sir G. Murray. 5 vols. London. 1845.

TORCY, MARQUIS DE. Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire des négotiations depuis le traité de Rijswijck jusqu'a la paix d'Utrecht. Paris. 1850.

VREEDE, C.G. Correspondance diplomatique et militaire du duc de Marlborough, du grand-pensionaris Heinsius, et du trésorier-général J. Hop. Amsterdam. 1850.


BOSSCHE, E. VAN DER. Le traité de la Barrière. Bruges. 1880.

COLENBRANDER, H.T. De Patrioten Tijd, 1776-87. 3 vols. The Hague. 1897-99.
---- De Bataafsche Republiek. The Hague. 1908.

ELLIS, GEORGE. History of the late Revolution in the Dutch Republic. London. 1789.

History of the internal affairs of the United Provinces, from the year 1780 to the commencement of hostilities in June, 1787. London. 1787.

JORISSEN, T. De Patriotten te Amsterdam in 1791. Amsterdam. 1793.

KANE, RICHARD. Campaigns of King William and of the Duke of Marlborough. 2nd ed. London. 1747.

KLUIT, A. Historic der Hollandsche Staatsregering tot 1795. 5 vols. Amsterdam. 1802-5.

LEGRAND, L. La révolution française en Hollande; la république batave. Paris. 1894.

LOON, H.W.v. The Fall of the Dutch Republic. London. 1913.

MEULEN, A.J.v.D. Studies over de ministrie van Van de Spiegel. Leyden. 1906.

ONDAATJE, Q. Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis der omwenteling van 1787. Dunkirk. 1791.

SCHIMMELPENNICK, RUTGER. J.S. en eenige gebeurtenissen van zijn tijd. Amsterdam. 1845.

VERENET, G. Pierre le Grand en Hollande, 1697 et 1717. Utrecht. 1865.

WEBER, O. Die Quadrupel-Allianz vom Jahre 1718. Vienna. 1887.

WREEDE, G.W. Geschiedenis der diplomatic van de bataafsche republiek. 3 vols. Utrecht. 1863.


ARNETH, A., RITTER VON. Prinz Eugen van Savoyen. 3 vols. Vienna. 1856.

KOLLEWIJN, B. Bilderdijk. 2 vols. Amsterdam. 1891.

MENDELS, M.H.W. Daendels, 1762-1818. 2 vols. The Hague. 1890.

NIJHOFF, I.A. De Hertog van Brunswijk. The Hague. 1849.

SCHENK, W.G.F. Wilhelm der Fünfte. Stuttgart. 1884.

SILLEM, J.A. Gogel. Amsterdam. 1864.
---- Dirk van Hogendorp. Amsterdam. 1890.



BARTHELS, A. Documents historiques sur la Révolution belge. Brussels. 1836.

BONAPARTE, LOUIS (COMTE DE ST LEU). Documents historiques et réflexions sur le gouvernement de la Hollande. 3 vols. London. 1820.

FALCK, A.R. Brieven 1796-1845 met levensberigt d.O.W. Hora Siccama. The Hague. 1860.

---- Amtsbrieven, 1802-42. The Hague. 1878.

Handelingen van de Staten General (1’e en 2’e Kamer), 1815-47. 51 vols. The Hague. 1863-97.

Histoire parlementaire du traité de paix du 19 Avril, 1839, entre la Belgique et la Hollande, contenant tous les discours. 2 vols. Brussels. 1839.

KRAYENHOFF, C.R.T. Bijdragen tot de vaderlandsche geschiedenis van de belangrijke jaren 1809-10. Nimwegen. 1844.

LIPMAN, S.P. Nederlandsch constitutioneel archief van alle koninklijke aanspraken en parlementaire addressen, 1813-63. 2 vols. Amsterdam. 1846--64.

ROCQUAIS, F. Napoléon et le roi Louis d'après les documents conservés aux archives nationales. Paris. 1875.

SOELEN, VERSTOLK VAN. Recueil de pièces diplomatiques relatives aux affaires de la Hollande et de la Belgique, 1830-2. 3 vols. The Hague. 1831-3.

THORBECKE, J.R. Brieven aan Groen v. Prinsterer, 1830-2. Amsterdam. 1873.
---- Parlementaire redevoeringen. 6 vols. Deventer. 1856-70.


BEAUFORT, W.H.DE. De eerste regierings jaren van Koning Willem I. Amsterdam. 1886.

BOSCH KEMPER, J. DE. Staatkundige geschiedenis van Nederland na 1830. 5 vols. Amsterdam. 1873-82.

BRUYNE, J.A. Geschiedenis van Nederland in onzen tijd. 5 vols. Schiedam. 1889-1906.

COLENBRANDER, H.T. De Belgische Omwenteling. The Hague. 1905.

GERLACHE, E.C.DE. Histoire du royaume des Pays-Bas depuis 1814 jusqu'en 1830. 3 vols. Brussels. 1842.

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KEPPERS, G.L. De regeering van Koning Willem III. Groningen. 1887.
---- Het Regentschap van Koningin Emma. The Hague. 1895.

LASTDRAGER, A.J. Nieuwste geschiedenis v. Nederland in jaarlijksche overzigten (1815-30). 9 vols. Amsterdam. 1839-48.

NOTHOMB, BARON J.B. Essai historique et politique sur la revolution belge. 3 vols. 4th ed. Brussels. 1876.

NUYENS, W.J.F. Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Volk van 1815 tot op onze dagen. 4 vols. Amsterdam. 1883-6.

RENGERS, W.J. VAN WALDEREN. Schets eener parlementaire geschiedenis van Nederland sedert 1849. 2 vols. The Hague. 1889.

WITKAMP EN CRAANDIJK. Vereeniging en Scheiding. Geschiedenis van Noord-Nederland en Belgie van 1813-80. Doesburgh. 1881.

WOLF, N.H. De regeering van Koningin Wilhelmina. Rotterdam. 1901.

WÜPPERMAN, W.E.A. Geschiedenis van den Tiendagschen Veldtocht. Amsterdam. 1880.


ABBINK, J.J. Leven van Koning Willem II. Amsterdam. 1849.

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BOS, F. DE. Prins Frederik der Nederlanden. 4 vols. Schiedam. 1857-99.

BOSSCHA, J. Het leven van Willem II, koning der Nederlanden, 1793-1849. Amsterdam. 1852.

BRINK, J. TEN. Prins Frederik der Nederlanden. The Hague. 1881.

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PIERSON, ALLARD. Onze tijdgenooten. Amsterdam. 1896.

THIJM, J.A. Alberdingk, door A.J. Amsterdam. 1893.

VOS, A.J. DE. Groen van Prinsterer en zijn tijd. Dordrecht. 1886.


BOYS, H. SCOTT. Some notes on Java and its administration by the Dutch. Allahabad. 1892.

DAY, C. The policy and administration of the Dutch in Java. New York. 1904.

PERSELAER, M.T.H. Nederlandsche Indië. 4 vols. Leyden. 1891-3.

PIERSON, N.G. Koloniale Politiek. Amsterdam. 1877.

Staatsblad voor Nederl. Indië 1816-80. 46 vols. The Hague and Batavia. 1839-81.

Verslag van het beheer en der staat der Nederlandsche bezittingen in Oost-en West-Indië en ter kust van Guinea. 44 vols. The Hague. 1840-96.


BOISSEVAIN, J.H.G. De Limburgsche Questie. Tiel. 1848.

BRINK, J. TEN. Geschiedenis der Noord-Nederlandsche letteren in de XIX^e eeuw.

EENDEGEEST, G. VAN. Over de droogmaking van het Haarlemmer meer. Vol. I. Leyden. 1842.
Vol. II. The Hague. 1853.
Vol. III. Amsterdam. 1860.

FRUIN, J.A. De Nederlandsche Wetboeken tot 1876. Utrecht. 1881.

HERINGA, DR A. Free Trade and Protection in Holland. London. 1914.

LOHMAN, A.F. DE SAVORNIN. Onze Constitutie. Utrecht. 1907.

MARIUS, G. HERMINE. Dutch painting in the 19th century. (Trans. by De Mattos.) London. 1908.

NIPPOLD, F. Die Römische Katholische Kirche im Königreich der Niederlände. Leipzig. 1877.

Painting, Modern Dutch. Edinburgh Review. July, 1909.

ROBERTSON SCOTT, J.W. War-time and Peace in Holland. London. 1914.

ROOT, E.W. DE. Geschiedenis van den Nederlandsche Handel. Amsterdam. 1856.

SECKENGA, F.W. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Belastingen sedert 1810. The Hague. 1883.

VERSCHAVE, P. La Hollande politique. The Hague. 1910.


The End


Edmundson, Chapter 35









THE Pierson-Borgesius ministry had not been long in office when Queen Wilhelmina attained her majority (August 31, 1898) amidst public enthusiasm. At the same time the Queen-Mother received many expressions of high appreciation for the admirable manner in which for eight years she had discharged her constitutional duties. The measures passed by this administration dealt with many subjects of importance. Personal military service was at last, after years of controversy, enforced by law, ecclesiastics and students alone being excepted. Attendance at school up to the age of 13 was made obligatory, and the subsidies for the upkeep of the schools and the payment of teachers were substantially increased. The year 1899 was memorable for the meeting of the first Peace Congress (on the initiative of the Tsar Nicholas II) at the Huis in't Bosch. The deliberations and discussions began on May 18 and lasted until June 29. By the irony of events, a few months later (October 10) a war broke out, in which the Dutch people felt a great and sympathetic interest, between the two Boer republics of South Africa and Great Britain. Bitter feelings were aroused, and the queen did but reflect the national sentiment when she personally received in the most friendly manner President Krüger, who arrived in Holland as a fugitive on board a Dutch man-of-war in the summer of 1900. The official attitude of the government was however perfectly correct, and there was never any breach in the relations between Great Britain and the Netherlands.

The marriage of Queen Wilhelmina, on February 7, 1901, with Prince Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was welcomed by the people, as affording hopes, for some years to be disappointed, of the birth of an heir to the throne.

The elections of 1901 found the liberal ministry out of favour through the laws enforcing military service and obligatory attendance at school. Against them the indefatigable Dr Kuyper, who had returned to active politics in 1897, had succeeded in uniting [pg.427] the three "Church" groups—the democratic anti-revolutionaries, the aristocratic Historical Christians (both orthodox Calvinists) and the Catholics of all sections—into a "Christian Coalition" in support of religious teaching in the schools. The victory lay with the coalition, and Dr Kuyper became first minister. The new administration introduced a measure on Higher Education, which was rejected by the First Chamber. A dissolution of this Chamber led to the majority being reversed, and the measure was passed. Another measure revised the Mackay Law and conferred a larger subsidy on "private" schools. The socialist party under the able leadership of Troelstra had won several seats at the election; and in 1903 a general strike was threatened unless the government conceded the demands of the socialist labour party. The threat was met with firmness; an anti-strike law was quickly passed; the military was called out; and the strike collapsed. The costly war in Achin, which had been smouldering for some years, burst out again with violence in the years 1902-3, and led to sanguinary reprisals on the part of the Dutch soldiery, the report of which excited indignation against the responsible authorities. Various attempts had been made in 1895 and 1899 to introduce protectionist duties, but unsuccessfully.

The quadrennial elections of 1905 found all the liberal groups united in a combined assault upon the Christian Coalition. A severe electoral struggle ensued, with the result that 45 liberals and 7 socialists were returned against 48 coalitionists. Dr Kuyper resigned; and a new ministry, under the leadership of the moderate liberal, De Meester, took its place. The De Meester government was however dependent upon the socialist vote, and possessed no independent majority in either Chamber. For the first time a ministry of agriculture, industry and trade was created. Such an administration could only lead a precarious existence, and in 1907 an adverse vote upon the military estimates led to its resignation. Th. Heemskerk undertook the task of forming a new cabinet from the anti-revolutionary and Catholic groups, and at the next general election of 1909 he won a conclusive victory at the polls. This victory was obtained by wholesale promises of social reforms, including old age pensions and poor and sick relief. As so often happens, such a programme could not be carried into effect without heavy expenditure; and the means were not forthcoming. To meet [pg.428] the demand a bill was introduced in August, 1911, by the finance minister, Dr Kolkmar, to increase considerably the existing duties, and to extend largely the list of dutiable imports. This bill led to a widespread agitation in the Country, and many petitions were presented against it, with the result that it was withdrawn. A proposal made by this ministry in 1910 to spend 38,000,000 florins on the fortification of Flushing excited much adverse criticism in the press of Belgium, England and France, on the ground that it had been done at the suggestion of the German government, the object being to prevent the British fleet from seizing Flushing in the event of the outbreak of an Anglo-German war. The press agitation met, however, with no Countenance on the part of responsible statesmen in any of the Countries named; it led nevertheless to the abandonment of the original proposal and the passing of a bill in 1912 for the improvement of the defences of the Dutch sea-ports generally.

The election of 1913 reversed the verdict of 1909. Probably in no Country has the principle of the "swing of the pendulum" been so systematically verified as it has in Holland in recent times. The returns were in 1913: Church parties, 41; liberalsof all groups, 39; socialists, 15. The most striking change was the increase in the socialist vote, their representation being more than doubled; and, as in 1905, they held the balance of parties in their hands. With some difficulty Dr Cort van den Linden succeeded in forming a liberal ministry. The outbreak of the Great War in August, 1914, prevented them from turning their attention to any other matters than those arising from the maintenance of a strict neutrality in a conflict which placed them in a most difficult and dangerous position. One of the first questions on which they had to take a critical decision was the closing of the Scheldt. As soon as Great Britain declared war on Germany (August 4), Holland refused to allow any belligerent vessels to pass over its territorial waters. The events of the six years that have since passed are too near for comment here. The liberal ministry at least deserves credit for having steered the Country safely through perilous waters. Nevertheless, at the quadrennial election of 1917 there was the customary swing of the pendulum; and an anti-liberal ministry (September 6) was formed, with a Catholic, M. Ruys de Beerenbronck, as first minister.


Edmundson, Chapter 33









William III succeeded to the throne at a moment of transition. He was thirty-two years of age, and his natural leanings were autocratic; but he accepted loyally the principle of ministerial responsibility, and throughout his long reign endeavoured honestly and impartially to fulfil his duties as a constitutional sovereign. There were at this time in Holland four political parties: (1) the old conservative party, which after 1849 gradually dwindled in numbers and soon ceased to be a power in the State; (2) the liberals, under the leadership of Thorbecke; (3) the anti-revolutionary or orthodox Protestant party, ably led by G. Groen van Prinsterer, better known perhaps as a distinguished historian, but at the same time a good debater and resourceful parliamentarian; (4) the Catholic party. The Catholics for the first time obtained in 1849 the full privileges of citizenship. They owed this to the liberals, and for some years they gave their support to that party, though differing from them fundamentally on many points. The anti-revolutionaries placed in the foreground the upholding of the Reformed (orthodox Calvinistic) faith in the State, and of religious teaching in the schools. In this last article of their political creed they were at one with the Catholics, and in its defence the two parties were destined to become allies.

The liberal majority in the newly elected States-General was considerable; and it was the general expectation that Thorbecke would become head of the government. The king however suspected the aims of the liberal leader, and personally disliked him. He therefore kept in office the Donker-Curtius-De Kempenaer cabinet; but, after a vain struggle against the hostile majority, it was compelled to resign, and Thorbecke was called upon to form a ministry.

Thorbecke was thus the first constitutional prime-minister of Holland. His answer to his opponents, who asked for his programme, [pg.412] was contained in words which he was speedily to justify: "Wait for our deeds." A law was passed which added 55,000 votes to the electorate; and by two other laws the provincial and communal assemblies were placed upon a popular representative basis. The system of finance was reformed by the gradual substitution of direct for indirect taxation. By the Navigation Laws all differential and transit dues upon shipping were reduced; tolls on through-cargoes on the rivers were abolished, and the tariff on raw materials lowered. It was a considerable step forward in the direction of free-trade. Various changes were made to lighten the incidence of taxation on the poorer classes. Among the public works carried to completion at this time (1852) was the empoldering of the Haarlem lake, which converted a large expanse of water into good pasture land.

It was not on political grounds that the Thorbecke ministry was to be wrecked, but by their action in matters which aroused religious passions and prejudices. The prime-minister wished to bring all charitable institutions and agencies under State supervision. Their number was more than 3500; and a large proportion of these were connected with and supported by religious bodies. It is needless to say the proposal aroused strong opposition. More serious was the introduction of a Catholic episcopate into Holland. By the Fundamental Law of 1848 complete freedom of worship and of organisation had been guaranteed to every form of religious belief. It was the wish of the Catholics that the system which had endured ever since the 16th century of a "Dutch mission" under the direction of an Italian prelate (generally the internuncio) should come to an end, and that they should have bishops of their own. The proposal was quite constitutional and, far from giving the papal curia more power in the Netherlands, it decreased it. A petition to Pius IX in 1847 met with little favour at Rome; but in 1851 another petition, much more widely signed, urged the Pope to seize the favourable opportunity for establishing a native hierarchy. Negotiations were accordingly opened by the papal see with the Dutch government, which ended (October, 1852) in a recognition of the right of the Catholic Church in Holland to have freedom of organisation. It was stipulated, however, that a previous communication should be made to the government of the papal intentions and plans, before they were carried out. The only communication [pg.413] that was made was not official, but confidential; and it merely stated that Utrecht was to be erected into an archbishopric with Haarlem, Breda, Hertogenbosch and Roeremonde, as suffragans. The ministry regarded the choice of such Protestant centres as Utrecht and Haarlem with resentment, but were faced with the fait accompli . This strong-handed action of the Roman authorities was made still more offensive by the issuing of a papal allocution, again without any consultation with the Dutch government, in which Pius IX described the establishment of the new hierarchy as a means of Counteracting in the Netherlands the heresy of Calvin.

A wave of fierce indignation swept over Protestant Holland, which united in one camp orthodox Calvinists (anti-revolutionaries), conservatives and anti-papal liberals. The preachers everywhere inveighed against a ministry which had permitted such an act of aggression on the part of a foreign potentate against the Protestantism of the nation. Utrecht took the lead in drawing up an address to the king and to the States-General (which obtained two hundred thousand signatures), asking them not to recognise the proposed hierarchy. At the meeting of the Second Chamber of the States-General on April 12, Thorbecke had little difficulty in convincing the majority that the Pope had proceeded without Consultation with the ministry, and that under the Constitution the Catholics had acted within their rights in re-modelling their Church organisation. But his arguments were far from satisfying outside public opinion. On the occasion of a visit of the king to Amsterdam the ministry took the step of advising him not to receive any address hostile to the establishment of the hierarchy, on the ground that this did not require the royal approval. William, who had never been friendly to Thorbecke, was annoyed at being thus instructed in the discharge of his duties; and he not only received an address containing 51,000 signatures but expressed his great pleasure in being thus approached (April 15). At the same time he summoned Van Hall, the leader of the opposition, to Amsterdam for a private consultation. The ministry, on hearing of what had taken place, sent its resignation, which was accepted on April 19. Thus fell the Thorbecke ministry, not by a parliamentary defeat, but because the king associated himself with the uprising of hostile public opinion, known as the "April Movement."

A new ministry was formed under the joint leadership of Van [pg.414] Hall and Donker-Curtius; and an appeal to the electors resulted in the defeat of the liberals. The majority was a coalition of conservatives and anti-revolutionaries. The followers of Groen van Prinsterer were small in number, but of importance through the strong religious convictions and debating ability of the leader. The presence of Donker-Curtius was a guarantee for moderation; and, as Van Hall was an adept in political opportunism, the new ministry differed from its liberal predecessor chiefly in its more cautious attitude towards the reforms which both were ready to adopt. As it had been carried into office by the April Movement, a Church Association Bill was passed into law making it illegal for a foreigner to hold any Church office without the royal assent, and forbidding the wearing of a distinctive religious dress outside closed buildings. Various measures were introduced dealing with ministerial responsibility, poor-law administration and other matters, such as the abolition of the excise on meat and of barbarous punishments on the scaffold.

The question of primary education was to prove for the next half-century a source of continuous political and religious strife, dividing the people of Holland into hostile camps. The question was whether the State schools should be "mixed" i.e. neutral schools, where only those simple truths which were common to all denominations should be taught; or should be "separate" i.e. denominational schools, in which religious instruction should be given in accordance with the wishes of the parents. A bill was brought in by the government (September, 1854) which was intended to be a compromise. It affirmed the general principle that the State schools should be "neutral," but allowed "separate" schools to be built and maintained. This proposal was fiercely opposed by Groen and gave rise to a violent agitation. The ministry struggled on, but its existence was precarious and internal dissensions at length led to its resignation (July, 1856). The elections of 1856 had effected but little change in the constitution of the Second Chamber, and the anti-revolutionary J.J.L. van der Brugghen was called upon to form a ministry. Groen himself declined office, Van der Brugghen made an effort to conciliate opposition; and a bill for primary education was introduced (1857) upholding the principle of the "mixed" schools, but with the proviso that the aim of the teaching was to be the instruction of [pg.415] the children "in Christian and social virtues"; at the same time "separate" schools were permitted and under certain conditions would be subsidised by the State. Groen again did his utmost to defeat this bill, but he was not successful; and after stormy debates it became law (July, 1857). The liberals obtained a majority at the elections of 1858, and Van der Brugghen resigned. But the king would not send for Thorbecke; and J.J. Rochussen, a former governor-general of the Dutch East Indies, was asked to form a "fusion" ministry. During his tenure of office (1858-60) slavery was abolished in the East Indies, though not the cultivation-system, which was but a kind of disguised slavery. The way in which the Javanese suffered by this system of compulsory labour for the profit of the home Country—the amount received by the Dutch treasury being not less than 250 million florins in thirty years—was now scathingly exposed by the brilliant writer Douwes Dekker. He had been an official in Java, and his novel Max Havelaar , published in 1860 under the pseudonym "Multatuli," was widely read, and brought to the knowledge of the Dutch public the character of the system which was being enforced.

Holland was at this time far behind Belgium in the construction of a system of railroads, to the great hindrance of trade. A bill, however, proposed by the ministry to remedy this want was rejected by the First Chamber, and Rochussen resigned. The king again declined to send for Thorbecke; and Van Hall was summoned for the third time to form a ministry. He succeeded in securing the passage of a proposal to spend not less than 10 million florins annually in the building of State railways. All Van Hall's parliamentary adroitness and practised opportunism could not, however, long maintain in office a ministry supported cordially by no party. Van Hall gave up the unthankful task (February, 1861), but still it was not Thorbecke, but Baron S. van Heemstra that was called upon to take his place. For a few months only was the ministry able to struggle on in the face of a liberal majority. There was now no alternative but to offer the post of first minister to Thorbecke, who accepted the office (January 31, 1862).

The second ministry of Thorbecke lasted for four years, and was actively engaged during that period in domestic, trade and colonial reforms. Thorbecke, as a free-trader, at once took in hand the policy of lowering all duties except for revenue purposes. The communal [pg.416] dues were extinguished. A law for secondary and technical education was passed in 1863; and in the same year slavery was abolished in Surinam and the West Indies. Other bills were passed for the canalising of the Hook of Holland, and the reclaiming of the estuary of the Y. This last project included the construction of a canal, the Canal of Holland, with the artificial harbour of Ymuiden at its entrance, deep enough for ocean liners to reach Amsterdam. With the advent of Fransen van de Putte, as colonial minister in 1863, began a series of far-reaching reforms in the East Indies, including the lowering of the differential duties. His views, however, concerning the scandal of the cultivation-system in Java did not meet with the approval of some of his colleagues; and Thorbecke himself supported the dissentients. The ministry resigned, and Van de Putte became head of the government. He held office for four months only. His bill for the abolition of the cultivation-system and the conversion of the native cultivators into possessors of their farms was thrown out by a small majority, Thorbecke with a few liberals and some Catholics voting with the conservatives against it. This was the beginning of a definite liberal split, which was to continue for years.

A coalition-ministry followed under the presidency of J. van Heemskerk (Interior) and Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt (Foreign Affairs). The colonial minister Mijer shortly afterwards resigned in order to take the post of governor-general of the East Indies. This appointment did not meet with the approval of the Second Chamber; and the government suffered a defeat. On this they persuaded the king not only to dissolve the Chamber, but to issue a proclamation impressing upon the electors the need of the Country for a more stable administration. The result was the return of a majority for the Heemskerk-Van Zuylen combination. It is needless to say that Thorbecke and his followers protested strongly against the dragging of the king's name into a political contest, as gravely unconstitutional. The ministry had a troubled existence.

The results of the victory of Prussia over Austria at Sadowa, and the formation of the North German Confederation under Prussian leadership, rendered the conduct of foreign relations a difficult and delicate task, especially as regards Luxemburg and Limburg, both of which were under the personal sovereignty of William III, and at the same time formed part of the old German Confederation. [pg.417] The rapid success of Prussia had seriously perturbed public opinion in France; and Napoleon III, anxious to obtain some territorial compensation which would satisfy French amour-propre, entered into negotiations with William III for the sale of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. The king was himself alarmed at the Prussian annexations, and Queen Sophie and the Prince of Orange had decided French leanings; and, as Bismarck had given the king reason to believe that no objection would be raised, the negotiations for the sale were seriously undertaken. On March 26, 1867, the Prince of Orange actually left the Hague, bearing the document containing the Grand Duke's consent; and on April 1 the cession was to be finally completed. On that very day the Prussian ambassadors at Paris and the Hague were instructed to say that any cession of Luxemburg to France would mean war with Prussia. It was a difficult situation; and a conference of the Great Powers met at London on May 11 to deal with it. Its decision was that Luxemburg should remain as an independent state, whose neutrality was guaranteed collectively by the Powers, under the sovereignty of the House of Nassau; that the town of Luxemburg should be evacuated by its Prussian garrison; and that Limburg should henceforth be an integral part of the kingdom of the Netherlands.

Van Zuylen was assailed in the Second Chamber for his exposing the Country to danger and humiliation in this matter; and the Foreign Office vote was rejected by a small majority. The ministry resigned; but, rather than address himself to Thorbecke, the king sanctioned a dissolution, with the result of a small gain of seats to the liberals. Heemskerk and Van Zuylen retained office for a short time in the face of adverse votes, but finally resigned; and the king had no alternative but to ask Thorbecke to form a ministry. He himself declined office, but he chose a cabinet of young liberals who had taken no part in the recent political struggles, P.P. van Bosse becoming first minister.

From this time forward there was no further attempt on the part of the royal authority to interfere in the constitutional course of parliamentary government. Van Bosse's ministry, scoffingly called by their opponents "Thorbecke's marionettes," maintained themselves in office for two years(1868-70), passing several useful measures, but are chiefly remembered for the abolition of capital punishment. The outbreak of the Franco-German war in 1870 found, however, the [pg.418] Dutch army and fortresses ill-prepared for an emergency, when the maintenance of strict neutrality demanded an efficient defence of the frontiers. The ministry was not strong enough to resist the attacks made upon it; and at last the real leader of the liberal party, the veteran Thorbecke, formed his third ministry (January, 1871). But Thorbecke was now in ill-health, and the only noteworthy achievement of his last premiership was an agreement with Great Britain by which the Dutch possessions on the coast of Guinea were ceded to that Country in exchange for a free hand being given to the Dutch in Surinam. The ministry, having suffered a defeat on the subject of the cost of the proposed army re-organisation, was on the point of resigning, when Thorbecke suddenly died (June 5, 1872). His death brought forth striking expressions of sympathy and appreciation from men and journals representing all parties in the State. For five-and-twenty years, in or out of office, his had been the dominating influence in Dutch politics; and it was felt on all sides that the Country was the poorer for the loss of a man of outstanding ability and genuine patriotism.


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The death of Thorbecke was the signal for a growing cleavage between the old doctrinaire school of liberals, who adhered to the principles of 1848, and the advanced liberalism of many of the younger progressive type. To Gerrit de Vries was entrusted the duty of forming a ministry, and he had the assistance of the former first minister, F. van de Putte. His position was weakened by the opposition of the Catholic party, who became alienated from the liberals, partly on the religious education question, but more especially because their former allies refused to protest against the Italian occupation of Rome. The election of 1873 did not improve matters, for it left the divided liberals to face an opposition of equal strength, whenever the conservatives, anti-revolutionaries and Catholics acted together. This same year saw the first phase of the war with the piratical state of Achin. An expedition of 3600 men under General Köhler was sent out against the defiant sultan in April, 1873, but suffered disaster, the General himself dying of disease. A second stronger expedition under General van Swietssen was then dispatched, which was successful; and the sultan was deposed in January, 1874. This involved heavy charges on the treasury; and the ministry, after suffering two reverses in the Second Chamber, resigned (June, 1874), being succeeded by a Heemskerk coalition ministry.

Heemskerk in his former premiership had shown himself to be a clever tactician, and for three years he managed to maintain himself in office against the combined opposition of the advanced liberals, the anti-revolutionaries and the Catholics. Groen van Prinsterer died in May, 1876; and with his death the hitherto aristocratic and exclusive party, which he had so long led, became transformed. Under its new leader, Abraham Kuyper, it became democratised, and, by combining its support of the religious principle in education with that of progressive reform, was able to exercise [pg.420] a far wider influence in the political sphere. Kuyper, for many years a Calvinist pastor, undertook in 1872 the editorship of the anti-revolutionary paper, De Standdard . In 1874 he was elected member for Gouda, but resigned in order to give his whole time to journalism in the interest of the political principles to which he now devoted his great abilities.

The Heemskerk ministry had the support of no party, but by the opportunist skill of its chief it continued in office for three years; no party was prepared to take its place, and "the government of the king must be carried on." The measures that were passed in this time were useful rather than important. An attempt to deal with primary instruction led to the downfall of the ministry. The elections of 1877 strengthened the liberals; and, an amendment to the speech from the throne being carried, Heemskerk resigned. His place was taken by Joannes Kappeyne, leader of the progressive liberals. A new department of State was now created, that of Waterways and Commerce, whose duties in a Country like Holland, covered with a net-work of dykes and canals, was of great importance. A measure which denied State support to the "private" schools was bitterly resisted by the anti-revolutionaries and the Catholics, whose union in defence of religious education was from this time forward to become closer. The outlay in connection with the costly Achin war, which had broken out afresh, led to a considerable deficit in the budget. In consequence of this a proposal for the construction of some new canals was rejected by a majority of one. The financial difficulties, which had necessitated the imposing of unpopular taxes, had once more led to divisions in the liberal ranks; and Kappeyne, finding that the king would not support his proposals for a revision of the Fundamental Law, saw no course open to him but resignation.

In these circumstances the king decided to ask an anti-revolutionary, Count van Lynden van Sandenburg, to form a "Ministry of Affairs," composed of moderate men of various parties. Van Lynden had a difficult task, but with the strong support of the king his policy of conciliation carried him safely through four disquietssing and anxious years. The revolt of the Boers in the Transvaal against British rule caused great excitement in Holland, and aroused much sympathy. Van Lynden was careful to avoid any steps which might give umbrage to England, and he was successful in his efforts. The [pg.421] Achin trouble was, however, still a cause of much embarrassment. Worst of all was the series of bereavements which at this time befell the House of Orange-Nassau. In 1877 Queen Sophie died, affectionately remembered for her interest in art and science, and her exemplary life. The king's brother, Henry, for thirty years Stadtholder of Luxemburg, died childless early in 1879; and shortly afterwards in June the Prince of Orange, who had never married, passed away suddenly at Paris. The two sons of William III's uncle Frederick predeceased their father, whose death took place in 1881. Alexander, the younger son of the king, was sickly and feeble-minded; and with his decease in 1884, the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau became extinct. Foreseeing such a possibility in January, 1879, the already aged king took in second wedlock the youthful Princess Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont. Great was the joy of the Dutch people, when, on August 31, 1880, she gave birth to a princess, Wilhelmina, who became from this time forth the hope of a dynasty, whose history for three centuries had been bound up with that of the nation.

The Van Lynden administration, having steered its way through many parliamentary crises for four years, was at last beaten upon a proposal to enlarge the franchise, and resigned (February 26, 1883). To Heemskerk was confided the formation of a coalition ministry of a neutral character; and this experienced statesman became for the third time first minister of the crown. The dissensions in the liberal party converted the Second Chamber into a meeting-place of hostile factions; and Heemskerk was better fitted than any other politician to be the head of a government which, having no majority to support it, had to rely upon tactful management and expediency. The rise of a socialist party under the enthusiastic leadership of a former Lutheran pastor, Domela Nieuwenhuis, added to the perplexities of the position. It soon became evident that a revision of the Fundamental Law and an extension of the franchise, which the king no longer opposed, was inevitable. Meanwhile the death of Prince Alexander and the king's growing infirmities made it necessary to provide, by a bill passed on August 2,1884, that Queen Emma should become regent during her daughter's minority.

Everything conspired to beset the path of the Heemskerk ministry with hindrances to administrative or legislative action. The bad state of the finances (chiefly owing to the calls for the Achin war) the subdivision of all parties into groups, the socialist [pg.422] agitation and the weak health of the king, created something like a parliamentary deadlock. A revision of the constitution became more and more pressing as the only remedy, though no party was keenly in its favour. Certain proposals for revision were made by the government (March, 1885), but the anti-revolutionaries, the Catholics and the conservatives were united in opposition, unless concessions were made in the matter of religious education. Such concessions as were finally offered were rejected (April, 1886), and Heemskerk offered his resignation. Baron Mackay (anti-revolutionary) declining office, a dissolution followed. The result of the elections, however, was inconclusive, the liberalsof all shades having a bare majority of four; but there was no change of ministry. A more conciliatory spirit fortunately prevailed under stress of circumstances in the new Chamber; and at last, after many debates, the law revising the constitution was passed through both Chambers, and approved by the king (November 30, 1887). It was a compromise measure, and no violent changes were made. The First Chamber was to consist of 50 members, appointed by the Provincial Councils; the Second Chamber of 100 members, chosen by an electorate of male persons of not less than 25 years of age with a residential qualification and possessing "signs of fitness and social well-being"—a vague phrase requiring future definition. The number of electors was increased from (in round numbers) 100,000 to 350,000, but universal male suffrage, the demand of the socialists and more advanced liberals, was not conceded.

The elections of 1888 were fought on the question of religious education in the primary schools. The two "Christian" parties, the Calvinist anti-revolutionaries under the leadership of Dr Kuyper, and the Catholics, who had found a leader of eloquence and power in Dr Schaepman, a Catholic priest, coalesced in a common programme for a revision of Kappeyne's Education Act of 1878. The coalition obtained a majority, 27 anti-revolutionaries and 25 Catholics being returned as against 46 liberalsof various groups. For the first time a socialist, Domela Nieuwenhuis, was elected. The conservative party was reduced to one member. In the First Chamber the liberals still commanded a majority. In April, 1888, Baron Mackay, an anti-revolutionary of moderate views, became first minister. The coalition made the revision of the Education Act of 1878 their first business; and they obtained the support of some liberals who were anxious to see the school question out [pg.423] of the way. The so-called "Mackay Law" was passed in 1889. It provided that "private" schools should receive State support on condition that they conformed to the official regulations; that the number of scholars should be not less than twenty-five; and that they should be under the management of some body, religious or otherwise, recognised by the State. This settlement was a compromise, but it offered the solution of an acute controversy and was found to work satisfactorily.

The death of King William on November 23, 1890, was much mourned by his people. He was a man of strong and somewhat narrow views, but during his reign of 41 years his sincere love for his Country was never in doubt, nor did he lose popularity by his anti-liberal attitude on many occasions, for it was known to arise from honest conviction; and it was amidst general regret that the last male representative of the House of Orange-Nassau was laid in his grave.

A proposal by the Catholic minister Borgesius for the introduction of universal personal military service was displeasing however to many of his own party, and it was defeated with the help of Catholic dissidents. An election followed, and the liberals regained a majority. A new government was formed of a moderate progressive character, the premier being Cornelis van Tienhoven. It was a ministry of talents, Tak van Poortvlietss (interior) and N.G. Pierson (finance) being men of marked ability. Pierson had more success than any of his predecessors in bringing to an end the recurring deficits in the annual balance sheet. He imposed an income tax on all incomes above 650 florins derived from salaries or commerce. All other sources of income were capitalised (funds, investments, farming, etc.); and a tax was placed on all capital above 13,000 florins. Various duties and customs were lowered, to the advantage of trade. There was, however, a growing demand for a still further extension of the franchise, and for an official interpretation of that puzzling qualification of the Revision of 1889—"signs of fitness and social well-being." Tak van Poortvlietss brought in a measure which would practically have introduced universal male suffrage, for he interpreted the words as including all who could write and did not receive doles from charity. This proposal, brought forward in 1893, again split up the liberal party. The moderates under the leadership of Samuel van Houten vigorously opposed such an increase of the electorate; and they had the support [pg.424] of the more conservative anti-revolutionaries and a large part of the Catholics. The more democratic followers of Kuyper and Schaepman and the progressive radicals ranged themselves on the side of Tak van Poortvlietss. All parties were thus broken up into hostile groups. The election of 1894 was contested no longer on party lines, but between Takkians and anti-Takkians. The result was adverse to Tak, his following only mustering 46 votes against 54 for their opponents.

A new administration therefore came into office (May, 1894) under the presidency of Jonkheer Johan Roëll with Van Houten as minister of the interior. On Van Houten's shoulders fell the task of preparing a new electoral law. His proposals were finally approved in 1896. Before this took place the minister of finance, Spenger van Eyk, had succeeded in relieving the treasury by the conversion of the public debt from a 3-1/2 to a 3 per cent, security. The Van Houten reform of the franchise was very complicated, as there were six different categories of persons entitled to exercise the suffrage: (1) payers of at least one guilder in direct taxation; (2) householders or lodgers paying a certain minimum rent and having a residential qualification; (3) proprietssors or hirers of vessels of 24 tons at least; (4) earners of a certain specified wage or salary; (5) investors of 100 guilders in the public funds or of 50 guilders in a savings bank; (6) persons holding certain educational diplomas. This very wide and comprehensive franchise raised the number of electors to about 700,000.

The election of 1897, after first promising a victory to the more conservative groups, ended by giving a small majority to the liberals, the progressive section winning a number of seats, and the socialists increasing their representation in the Chamber. A liberal-concentration cabinet took the place of the Roell-Van Houten ministry, its leading members being Pierson (finance) and Goeman-Borgesius (interior). For a right understanding of the parliamentary situation at this time and during the years that follow, a brief account of the groups and sections of groups into which political parties in Holland were divided, must here interrupt the narrative of events.

It has already been told that the deaths of Thorbecke and Groen van Prinsterer led to a breaking up of the old parties and the formation of new groups. The Education Act of 1878 brought about an alliance of the two parties, who made the question of religious [pg.425] education in the primary schools the first article of their political programme—the anti-revolutionaries led by the ex-Calvinist pastor Dr Abraham Kuyper and the Catholics by Dr Schaepman, a Catholic priest. Kuyper and Schaepman were alike able journalists, and used the press with conspicuous success for the propagation of their views, both being advocates of social reform on democratic lines. The anti-revolutionaries, however, did not, as a body, follow the lead of Kuyper. An aristocratic section, whose principles were those of Groen van Prinsterer, "orthodox" and "conservative," under the appellation of "Historical Christians," were opposed to the democratic ideas of Kuyper, and were by tradition anti-Catholic. Their leader was Jonkheer Savornin Lohman. For some years there was a separate Frisian group of "Historical Christians," but these finally amalgamated with the larger body. The liberals meanwhile had split up into three groups: (1) the Old Independent (vrij) Liberals; (2) the Liberal Progressive Union (Unie van vooruitstrevende Liberalen) ; (3) Liberal-Democrats (vrijzinnig-democratischen Bond) . The socialist party was a development of the Algemeene Nederlandsche Werklieden Verbond founded in 1871. Ten years later, by the activities of the fiery agitator, Domela Nieuwenhuis, the Social-Democratic Bond was formed; and the socialists became a political party. The loss of Nieuwenhuis' seat in 1891 had the effect of making him abandon constitutional methods for a revolutionary and anti-religious crusade. The result of this was a split in the socialist party and the formation, under the leadership of Troelstra, Van Kol and Van der Goes, of the "Social-Democratic Workmen's Party," which aimed at promoting the welfare of the proletariat on socialistic lines, but by parliamentary means. The followers of Domela Nieuwenhuis, whose openly avowed principles were "the destruction of actual social conditions by all means legal and illegal," were after 1894 known as "the Socialist Bond." This anarchical party, who took as their motto "neither God nor master," rapidly decreased in number; their leader, discouraged by his lack of success in 1898, withdrew finally from the political arena; and the Socialist Bond was dissolved. This gave an accession of strength to the "Social-Democratic Workmen's Party," which has since the beginning of the present century gradually acquired an increasing hold upon the electorate.


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The Dutch nation welcomed the final separation from Belgium with profound relief. The national charges had risen from 15 million florins in 1815 to 38 million florins in 1838. Taxation was oppressive, trade stagnant, and the financial position growing more and more intolerable. The long-tried loyalty of the people, who had entrusted their sovereign with such wide and autocratic powers, had cooled. The king's Belgian policy had obviously been a complete failure; and the rotten state of public finance was naturally in large part attributed to the sovereign, who had so long been practically his own finance minister. Loud cries began to be raised for a revision of the constitution on liberal lines. To the old king any such revision was repugnant; but, unable to resist the trend of public opinion, he gave his assent to a measure of constitutional reform in the spring of 1840. Its limited concessions satisfied no one. Its principal modifications of the Fundamental Law were: (1) the division of the province of Holland into two parts; (2) the reduction of the Civil List; (3) the necessary alteration of the number of deputies in the Second Chamber due to the separation from Belgium; (4) abolition of the distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary budget; (5) a statement of the receipts and expenditure of the colonies to be laid before the States-General. Finally the principle of ministerial responsibility was granted most reluctantly, the king yielding only after the Chambers had declined to consider the estimates without this concession. But William had already made up his mind to abdicate, rather than reign under the new conditions. He knew that he was unpopular and out-of-touch with the times; and his unpopularity had been increased by his announced intention of marrying the Countess Henrietsste D'Oultremont, a Belgian and a Catholic. On October 7 he issued a proclamation by which he handed over the government to his son William Frederick, Prince of Orange. He then [pg.406] retired quietssly to his private estates in Silesia. He died at Berlin in 1843.

William II was forty-eight years of age on his accession to the throne. He was a man of a character very different from that of his father. Amiable, accessible, easily influenced, liberal-handed even to extravagance, he was deservedly popular. He had shown himself in the Peninsula, at Quatre Bras and Waterloo and later in the Ten Days' Campaign, to be a capable and courageous soldier, but he possessed few of the qualities either of a statesman or a financier. He had married in 1816 Anna Paulovna, sister of the Tsar Alexander I, after his proposed marriage with the Princess Charlotte of England had been broken off.

He entered upon his reign in difficult times. There was a loud demand for a further sweeping revision of the constitution. Religious movements, which had been gathering force during the reign of William I, required careful handling. One minister after another had tried to grapple with the financial problem, but in vain. In 1840 the public debt amounted to 2200 million florins; and the burden of taxation, though it had become almost unendurable, failed to provide for the interest on the debt and the necessary expenses of administration. The State was in fact on the verge of bankruptcy. The appointment in 1842 of F.A. van Hall (formerly an Amsterdam advocate, who had held the post of minister of justice) to be finance minister opened out a means of salvation. The arrears to 1840 amounted to 35 million florins; the deficit for 1841-3 had to be covered, and means provided for the expenditure for 1843-4. Van Hall's proposals gave the people the choice between providing the necessary money by an extraordinary tax of one and a half per cent, on property and income, and raising a voluntary loan of 150 million florins at 3 per cent. After long debates the States-General accepted the proposal for the voluntary loan, but the amount was reduced to 126 millions. The success of the loan, though at first doubtful, was by March, 1844, complete. The Amsterdam Bourse gave its utmost support; and the royal family set a good example by a joint subscription of 11 million florins. By this means, and by the capitalisation of the annual Belgian payment of five million francs, Van Hall was able to clear off the four years' arrears and to convert the 5 and 4-1/2 per cent. scrip into 4 per cent. He was helped by the large annual payments, which [pg.407] now began to come in from the Dutch East Indies; and at length an equilibrium was established in the budget between receipts and expenditure.

In the years preceding the French Revolution the Reformed Church in the United Provinces had become honey-combed with rationalism. The official orthodoxy of the Dort synod had become "a fossilised skeleton." By the Constitution of 1798 Church and State were separated, and the property of the Church was taken by the State, which paid however stipends to the ministers. Under King Louis subsidies were paid from the public funds to teachers of every religious persuasion; and this system continued during the union of Holland and Belgium. A movement known as the Reveil had meanwhile been stirring the dry-bones of Calvinistic orthodoxy in Holland. Its first leaders were Bilderdijk, De Costa and Capadose. Like most religious revivals, this movement gave rise to extravagancies and dissensions. In 1816 a new sect was founded by a sea-captain, Staffel Mulder, on communistic principles after the example of the first Jerusalem converts, which gathered a number of followers among the peasantry. The "New Lighters"—such was the name they assumed—established in 1823 their headquarters at Zwijndrecht. The first enthusiasm however died down, and the sect gradually disappeared. More serious was the liberal revolt against the cut-and-dried orthodoxy of Dort. Slowly it made headway, and it found leaders in Hofstede de Groot, professor at Groningen, and in two eloquent preachers, De Cocq at Ulrum and Scholte at Deventer. These men, finding that their views met with no sympathy or recognition by the synodal authorities, resolved (October 14,1834) on the serious step of separating from the Reformed Church and forming themselves and their adherents into a new church body. They were known as "the Separatists" ( de Afgescheidenen ). Though deprived of their pulpits, fined and persecuted, the Separatists grew in number. In 1836 the government refused to recognise them as a Church, but permitted local congregations to hold meetings in houses. In 1838 more favourable conditions were offered, which De Cocq and Scholte finally agreed to accept, but no subsidies were paid to the sect by the State. William II, in 1842, made a further concession by allowing religious teaching to be given daily in the public schools (out of school hours) by the Separatist ministers, as well as by those of other denominations. All this while, however, [pg.408] certain congregations refused to accept the compromise of 1838; and a large number, headed by a preacher named Van Raalte, in order to obtain freedom of worship, emigrated to Michigan to form the nucleus of a flourishing Dutch colony.

The accession of William II coincided with a period of political unrest, not only in Holland but throughout Europe. A strong reaction had set in against the system of autocratic rule, which had been the marked feature of the period which followed 1815. Liberal and progressive ideas had during the later years been making headway in Holland under the inspiring leadership of Johan Rudolf Thorbecke, at that time a professor of jurisprudence at Leyden. He had many followers; and the cause he championed had the support of the brilliant writers and publicists, Donker-Curtius, Luzac, Potgietsser, Bakhuizen van der Brink and others. A strong demand arose for a thorough revision of the constitution. In 1844 a body of nine members of the Second Chamber, chief amongst them Thorbecke, drew up a definite proposal for a revision; but the king expressed his dislike to it, and it was rejected. The Van Hall ministry had meanwhile been carrying out those excellent financial measures which had saved the credit of the State, and was now endeavouring to conduct the government on opportunist lines. But the potato famine in 1845-46 caused great distress among the labouring classes, and gave added force to the spirit of discontent in the Country. The king himself grew nervous in the presence of the revolutionary ferment spreading throughout Europe, and was more especially alarmed (February, 1848) by the sudden overthrow of the monarchy of Louis Philippe and the proclamation of a republic at Paris. He now resolved himself to take the initiative. He saw that the proposals hitherto made for revision did not satisfy public opinion; and on March 8, without consulting his ministers, he took the unusual step of sending for the President of the Second Chamber, Boreel van Hogelanden. He asked him to ascertain the opinions and wishes of the Chamber on the matter of revision and to report to him. The ministry on this resigned and a new liberal ministry was formed, at the head of which was Count Schimmelpenninck, formerly minister in London. On March 17 a special Commission was appointed to draw up a draft scheme of revision. It consisted of five members, four of whom, Thorbecke, Luzac, Donker-Curtius and Kempenaer, were prominent liberals and the fifth a Catholic [pg.409] from North Brabant. Their work was completed by April 11 and the report presented to the king. Schimmelpenninck, not agreeing with the proposalsof the Commission, resigned; and on May 11 a new ministry under the leadership of Donker-Curtius was formed for the express purpose of carrying out the proposed revision. A periodical election of the Second Chamber took place in July, and difficulties at first confronted the new scheme. These were, however, overcome; and on October 14 the revised constitution received the king's assent. It was solemnly proclaimed on November 3.

The Constitution of 1848 left in the hands of the king the executive power, i.e. the conduct of foreign affairs, the right of declaring war and making peace, the supreme command of the military and naval forces, the administration of the overseas possessions, and the right of dissolving the Chambers; but these prerogatives were modified by the introduction of the principle of ministerial responsibility. The ministers were responsible for all acts of the government, and the king could legally do no wrong. The king was president of the Council of State (15 members), whose duty it was to consider all proposals made to or by the States-General. The king shared the legislative power with the States-General, but the Second Chamber had the right of initiative, amendment and investigation; and annual budgets were henceforth to be presented for its approval. All members of the States-General were to be at least 30 years of age. The First Chamber of 39 members was elected by the Provincial Estates from those most highly assessed to direct taxation; the members sat for nine years, but one-third vacated their seats every third year. All citizens of full age paying a certain sum to direct taxation had the right of voting for members of the Second Chamber, the Country for this purpose being divided into districts containing 45,000 inhabitants. The members held their seats for four years, but half the Chamber retired every second year. Freedom of worship to all denominations, liberty of the press and the right of public meeting were guaranteed. Primary education in public schools was placed under State control, but private schools were not interfered with. The provincial and communal administration was likewise reformed and made dependent on the direct popular vote.

The ministry of Donker-Curtius at once took steps for holding fresh elections, as soon as the new constitution became the [pg.410] fundamental law of the Country. A large majority of liberals was returned to the Second Chamber. The king in person opened the States-General on February 13, 1849, and expressed his intention of accepting loyally the changes to which he had given his assent. He was, however, suffering and weak from illness, and a month later (March 17) he died at Tilburg. His gracious and kindly personality had endeared him to his subjects, who deeply regretted that at this moment of constitutional change the States should lose his experienced guidance. He was succeeded by his son, William III.


Edmundson, Chapter 31









During the last days of July, 1830, came the revolution at Paris that overthrew Charles X and placed the Duke of Orleans at the head of a constitutional monarchy with the title of Louis Philippe, King of the French. The Belgian liberals had always felt drawn towards France rather than Holland, and several of the more influential among them were in Paris during the days of July. Through their close intercourse with their friends in Brussels the news of all that had occurred spread rapidly, and was eagerly discussed. Probably at this time few contemplated the complete separation of Belgium from Holland, but rather looked to the northern and southern provinces becoming administratively autonomous under the same crown. This indeed appeared to be the only practical solution of the impasse which had been reached. Even had the king met the complaints of the Belgians by large concessions, had he dismissed Van Maanen, removed Libri-Bagnano from the editorship of the National , and created a responsible ministry—which he had no intention of doing, he could not have granted the demand for a representation of the south in the Second Chamber proportionate to the population. For this would have meant that the position of Holland would have henceforth been subordinate to that of Belgium; and to this the Dutch, proud of their history and achievements, would never have submitted. It had been proved that amalgamation was impossible, but the king personally was popular with those large sections of the Belgian mercantile and industrial population whose prosperity was so largely due to the royal care and paternal interest; and, had he consented to the setting-up of a separate administration at Brussels, he might by a conciliatory attitude have retained the loyalty of his Belgian subjects.

He did none of these things; but, when in August, he and his two sons paid a visit to Brussels at a time when the town was celebrating with festivities the holding of an exhibition of national industry, he was well received and was probably quite unaware of the [pg.390] imminence of the storm that was brewing. It had been intended to close the exhibition by a grand display of fireworks on the evening of August 23, and to have a general illumination on the king's birthday (August 24). But the king had hurried back to the Hague to keep his birthday, and during the preceding days there were abundant signs of a spirit of revolutionary ferment. Inscriptions were found on blank walls— Down with Van Maanen; Death to the Dutch; Down with Libri-Bagnano and the National ; and, more ominous still, leaflets were distributed containing the words le 23 Août, feu d'artifice; le 24 Août, anniversaïre du Roi; le 25 Août, révolution.

In consequence of these indications of subterranean unrest, which were well known to Baron van der Fosse, the civil governor of Brabant, and to M. Kuyff, the head of the city police, the municipal authorities weakly decided on the ground of unfavourable weather to postpone the fireworks and the illumination. The evening of the 23rd, as it turned out, was exceedingly fine. At the same time the authorities permitted, on the evening of the 25th, the first performance of an opera by Scribe and Auber, entitled La Muette de Portici , which had been previously proscribed. The hero, Masaniello, headed a revolt at Naples in 1648 against foreign (Spanish) rule. The piece was full of patriotic, revolutionary songs likely to arouse popular passion.

The evening of the performance arrived, and the theatre was crowded. The excitement of the audience grew as the play proceeded; and the thunders of applause were taken up by the throng which had gathered outside. Finally the spectators rushed out with loud cries of vengeance against Libri-Bagnano and Van Maanen, in which the mob eagerly joined. Brussels was at that time a chosen shelter of political refugees, ready for any excesses; and a terrible riot ensued. The house of Van Maanen and the offices of the National were attacked, pillaged and burnt. The city was given over to wild confusion and anarchy; and many of the mob secured arms by the plunder of the gun-smiths' shops. Meanwhile the military authorities delayed action. Several small patrols were surrounded and compelled to surrender, while the main body of troops, instead of attacking and dispersing the rioters, was withdrawn and stationed in front of the royal palace. Thus by the extraordinary passiveness of Lieut.-General Bylandt, the military governor of the province, and of Major-General Wauthier, commandant of the city, who [pg.391] must have been acting under secret orders, the wild outbreak of the night began, as the next day progressed and the troops were still inactive, to assume more of the character of a revolution.

This was checked by the action of the municipal authorities and certain of the principal inhabitants, who called together the civic-guard to protect any further tumultuary attacks by marauders and ne'er-do-wells on private property. The guard were joined by numbers of volunteers of the better classes and, under the command of Baron D'Hoogvoort, were distributed in different quarters of the town, and restored order. The French flags, which at first were in evidence, were replaced at the Town Hall by the Brabant tricolor—red, yellow and black. The royal insignia had in many places been torn down, and the Orange cockades had disappeared; nevertheless there was at this time no symptom of an uprising to overthrow the dynasty, only a national demand for redress of grievances. Meanwhile news arrived that reinforcements from Ghent were marching upon the city. The notables however informed General Bylandt that no troops would be allowed to enter the city without resistance; and he agreed to stop the advance and to keep his own troops in their encampment until he received further orders from the Hague. For this abandonment of any attempt to re-assert the royal authority he has been generally blamed.

There is no lack of evidence to show that the riot of August 25 and its consequences were not the work of the popular leaders. The correspondence of Gendebien with De Potter at this time, and the tone of the Belgian press before and after the outbreak, are proofs of this. The Catholique of Ghent (the former organ of Barthels) for instance declared:

There is no salvation for the throne, but in an ample concession of our rights. The essential points to be accorded are royal inviolability and ministerial responsibility; the dismissal of Van Maanen; liberty of education and the press; a diminution of taxation ... in short, justice and liberty in all and for all, in strict conformity with the fundamental law.

 The Coursier des Pays Bos (the former organ of De Potter), after demanding the dismissal of Van Maanen as the absolute condition of pacification, adds:

We repeat that we are neither in a state of insurrection nor revolution; all we want is a mitigation of the grievances we have so long endured, and some guarantees for a better future.


In accordance with such sentiments an infuencial meeting on the on the 28th at the townhall appointed a deputation of five, headed by Alexandre de Gendebien and Felix, Count de Mérode, to bear to the king a loyal address setting forth the just grievances which had led to the Brussels disturbances, and asking respectfully for their removal.

The news of the uprising reached the king on the 27th, and he was much affected. At a Council held at the Hague the Prince of Orange earnestly besought his father to accept the proffered resignation of Van Maanen, and to consider in a conciliatory spirit the grievances of the Belgians. But William refused flatly to dismiss the minister or to treat with rebels. He gave the prince, however, permission to visit Brussels, not armed with powers to act, but merely with a mission of enquiry. He also consented to receive the deputation from Brussels, and summoned an extraordinary meeting of the States-General at the Hague for September 13. Troops were at once ordered to move south and to join the camp at Vilvoorde, where the regiments sent to reinforce the Brussels garrison had been halted. The Prince of Orange and his brother Frederick meanwhile had left the Hague and reached Vilvoorde on August 31. Here Frederick assumed command of the troops; and Orange sent his aide-de-camp to Baron D'Hoogvoort to invite him to a conference at headquarters. The news of the gathering troops had aroused immense excitement in the capital; and it was resolved that Hoogvoort, at the head of a representative deputation, should go to Vilvoorde to urge the prince to stop any advance of the troops on Brussels, as their entrance into the town would be resisted, unless the citizens were assured that Van Maanen was dismissed, and that the other grievances were removed. They invited Orange to come to Brussels attended only by his personal suite, and offered to be sureties for his safety.

The prince made his entry on September 1, the streets being lined with the civic guard. He was personally popular, but, possessing no powers, he could effect nothing. After three days of parleying he returned to the camp, and his mission was a failure. On the same day when Orange entered Brussels the deputation of five was received by King William at the Hague. His reply to their representations was that by the Fundamental Law he had the right to choose his ministers, that the principle of ministerial responsibility was [pg.393] contrary to the Constitution, and that he would not dismiss Van Maanen or deal with any alleged grievances with a pistol at his head.

William, however, despite his uncompromising words, did actually accept the resignation of Van Maanen (September 3); but when the Prince of Orange, returning from his experiences at Brussels, urged the necessity of an administrative separation of north and south, and offered to return to the Belgian capital if armed with full authority to carry it out, his offer was declined. The king would only consent to bring the matter to the consideration of the States-General, which was to meet on the 13th. Instead of taking any immediate action he issued a proclamation, which in no way faced the exigencies of the situation, and was no sooner posted on the walls at Brussels than it was torn down and trampled underfoot. It is only just to say that the king had behind him the unanimous support of the Dutch people, especially the commercial classes. To them separation was far preferable to admitting the Belgians to that predominant share of the representation which they claimed on the ground of their larger population.

Meanwhile at Brussels, owing to the inaction of the government, matters were moving fast. The spirit of revolt had spread to other towns, principally in the Walloon provinces. Liège and Louvain were the first to move. Charles Rogier, an advocate by profession and a Frenchman by birth, was the leader of the revolt at Liège; and such was his fiery ardour that at the head of some 400 men, whom he had supplied with arms from the armourer's warehouses, he marched to Brussels, and arrived in that disturbed city without enCountering any Dutch force. The example of Liège was followed by Jemappes, Wavre, and by the miners of the Borinage; and Brussels was filled with a growing crowd of men filled with a revolutionary spirit. Their aim was to proclaim the independence of Belgium, and set up a provisional government.

For such a step even pronounced liberals like Gendebien, Van de Weyer and Rouppe, the veteran burgomaster of the city, were not yet prepared; and they combined with the moderates, Count Felix de Mérode and Ferdinand Meeus, to form a Committee of Public Safety. They were aided, in the maintenance of order, by the two Barons D'Hoogvoort (Emmanuel and Joseph), the first the commander of the civic guard, and both popular and influential, [pg.394] and by the municipality. While these were still struggling to maintain their authority, the States-General had met at the Hague on September 13. It was opened by a speech from the king which announced his firm determination to maintain law and order in the face of revolutionary violence. He had submitted two questions to the consideration of the States-General: (1) whether experience had shown the necessity for a modification of the Fundamental Law; (2) whether any change should be made in the relations between the two parts of the kingdom. Both questions were, after long debate (September 29) answered in the affirmative; but, before this took place, events at Brussels had already rendered deliberations at the Hague futile and useless.

The contents of the king's speech were no sooner known in Brussels than they were used by the revolutionary leaders to stir up the passions of the mob by inflammatory harangues. Rogier and Ducpétiaux, at the head of the Liègeois and the contingents from the other Walloon towns, with the support of the lowest elements of the Brussels population, demanded the dissolution of the Committee of Public Safety and the establishment of a Provisional Government. The members of the Committee and of the Municipality, sitting in permanence at the Hotel de Ville, did their utmost to maintain order with the strong support of Baron D'Hoogvoort and the Civic Guard. But it was in vain. On the evening of September 20 an immense mob rushed the Hotel de Ville, after disarming the Civic Guard; and Rogier and Ducpétiaux were henceforth masters of the city. The Committee of Public Safety disappeared and is heard of no more. Hoogvoort resigned his command. On receipt of this news Prince Frederick at Vilvoorde was ordered to advance upon the city and compel submission. But the passions of the crowd had been aroused, and the mere rumour that the Dutch troops were moving caused the most vigorous steps to be taken to resist à outrance their penetrating into the town.

The royal forces, on the morning of September 23, entered the city at three gates and advanced as far as the Park. But beyond that point they were unable to proceed, so desperate was the resistance, and such the hail of bullets that met them from barricades and from the windows and roofs of the houses. For three days almost without cessation the fierce contest went on, the troops losing ground rather [pg.395] than gaining it. On the evening of the 26th the prince gave orders to retreat, his troops having suffered severely.

The effect of this withdrawal was to convert a street insurrection into a national revolt. The moderates now united with the liberals, and a Provisional Government was formed, having amongst its members Rogier, Van de Weyer, Gendebien, Emmanuel D'Hoogvoort, Felix de Mérode and Louis de Potter, who a few days later returned triumphantly from banishment. The Provisional Government issued a series of decrees declaring Belgium independent, releasing the Belgian soldiers from their allegiance, and calling upon them to abandon the Dutch standard. They were obeyed. The revolt, which had been confined mainly to the Walloon districts, now spread rapidly over Flanders. Garrison after garrison surrendered; and the remnants of the disorganised Dutch forces retired upon Antwerp (October 2). Two days later the Provisional Government summoned a National Congress to be elected by all Belgian citizens of 25 years of age. The news of these events caused great perturbation at the Hague. The Prince of Orange, who had throughout advocated conciliation, was now permitted by his father to go to Antwerp (October 4) and endeavour to place himself at the head of the Belgian movement on the basis of a grant of administrative separation, but without severance of the dynastic bond with Holland.

King William meanwhile had already (October 2) appealed to the Great Powers, signatories of the Articles of London in 1814, to intervene and to restore order in the Belgic provinces. The difficulties of the prince at Antwerp were very great, for he was hampered throughout by his father's unwillingness to grant him full liberty of action. He issued a proclamation, but it was coldly received; and his attempts to negotiate with the Provisional Government at Brussels met with no success. Things had now gone too far, and any proposal to make Belgium connected with Holland by any ties, dynastic or otherwise, was unacceptable. The well-meaning prince returned disappointed to the Hague on October 24. A most unfortunate occurrence now took place. As General Chassé, the Dutch commander at Antwerp, was withdrawing his troops from the town to the citadel, attacks were made upon them by the mob, and some lives were lost. Chassé in reprisal (October 27) ordered the town to be bombarded from the citadel and the gunboats upon [pg.396] the river. This impolitic act increased throughout Belgium the feeling of hatred against the Dutch, and made the demand for absolute independence deeper and stronger.

The appeal of William to the signatory Powers had immediate effect; and representatives of Austria, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain, to whom a representative of France was now added, met at London on November 4. This course of action was far from what the king expected or wished. Their first step was to impose an armistice; their next to make it clear that their intervention would be confined to negotiating a settlement on the basis of separation. A Whig ministry in England had (November 16) taken the place of that of Wellington; and Lord Palmerston, the new Foreign Secretary, was well-disposed to Belgium and found himself able to work in accord with Talleyrand, the French plenipotentiary. Austria and Russia were too much occupied with their own internal difficulties to think of supporting the Dutch king by force of arms; and Prussia, despite the close family connection, did not venture to oppose the determination of the two western Powers to work for a peaceful settlement. While they were deliberating, the National Congress had met at Brussels, and important decisions had been taken. By overwhelming majorities (November 18) Belgium was declared to be an independent State; and four days later, after vigorous debates, the Congress (by 174 votes to 13) resolved that the new State should be a constitutional monarchy and (by 161 votes to 28) that the house of Orange-Nassau be for ever excluded from the throne. A committee was appointed to draw up a constitution.

William had appealed to the Powers to maintain the Treaties of Paris and Vienna and to support him in what he regarded, on the basis of those treaties, as his undoubted rights; and it was with indignation that he saw the Conference decline to admit his envoy, Falck, except as a witness and on precisely the same terms as the representatives of the Brussels Congress. On December 20 a protocol was issued by the Powers which defined their attitude. They accepted the principle of separation and independence, subject to arrangements being made for assuring European peace. The Conference, however, declared that such arrangements would not affect the rights of King William and of the German Confederation in the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. This part of the protocol was as objectionable to the Belgians as the former part was to the [pg.397] Dutch king. The London Plenipotentiaries had in fact no choice, for they were bound by the unfortunate clauses of the treaties of 1815, which, to gratify Prussian ambition for cis-Rhenan territory, converted this ancient Belgian province into a German state. This ill-advised step was now to be the chief obstacle to a settlement in 1831. The mere fact that William had throughout the period of union always treated Luxemburg as an integral part of the southern portion of his kingdom made its threatened severance from the Belgic provinces a burning question. For Luxemburgers had taken a considerable part in the revolt, and Luxemburg representatives sat in the National Congress. Of these eleven voted for the perpetual exclusion of the Orange-Nassau dynasty, one only in its favour. It is not surprising, therefore, that a strong protest was made against the decision of the London Conference to treat the status of Luxemburg as outside the subject of their deliberations. The Conference, however, unmoved by this protest, proceeded in a protocol of January 20,1831, to define the conditions of separation. Holland was to retain her old boundaries of the year 1790, and Belgium to have the remainder of the territory assigned to the kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815. Luxemburg was again excluded. The Five Powers, moreover, declared that within these limits the new Belgian State was to be perpetually neutral, its integrity and inviolability being guaranteed by all and each of the Powers. A second protocol (January 27) fixed the proportion of the national debt to be borne by Belgium at sixteen parts out of thirty-one. The sovereign of Belgium was required to give his assent to these protocols, as a condition to being recognised by the Powers. But the Congress of Brussels was in no submissive mood. They had already (January 19) resolved to proceed to the election of a king without consulting anyone. The territorial boundaries assigned to Belgium met with almost unanimous reprobation, a claim being made to the incorporation not merely of Luxemburg, but also of Maestrieht, Limburg and Dutch Flanders, in the new State. Nor were they more contented with the proportion of the debt Belgium was asked to bear. On February 1 the Five Powers had agreed that they would not assent to a member of any of the reigning dynasties being elected to the throne of Belgium. Nevertheless (February 3) the Duc de Nemours, son of Louis Philippe, was elected by 94 votes, as against 67 recorded for the Duke of [pg.398] Leuchtenberg, son of Eugène Beauharnais. The Conference took immediate action by refusing to permit either Nemours or Leuchtenberg to accept the proffered crown.

 These acute differences between the Conference and the Belgian Congress were a cause of much satisfaction to the Dutch king, who was closely watching the course of events; and he thought it good policy (February 18) to signify his assent to the conditions set forth in the protocols of January 20 and 27. He had still some hopes of the candidature of the Prince of Orange (who was in London) being supported by the Powers, but for this the time was past.

At this juncture the name of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who had resided in England since the death of his wife the Princess Charlotte, was put forward. This candidature was supported by Great Britain; France raised no objection; and in Belgium it met with official support. Early in April a deputation of five commissioners was sent to offer the crown provisionally to the prince, subject to his endeavouring to obtain some modification of the protocols of January 20 and 27. The Five Powers, however, in a protocol, dated April 15, announced to the Belgian Government that the conditions of separation as laid down in the January protocols were final and irrevocable, and, if not accepted, relations would be broken off. Leopold was not discouraged, however; and such was his influence that he did succeed in obtaining from the Conference an undertaking that they would enter into negotiations with King William in regard both to the territorial and financial disputes with a view to a settlement, moyennant de justes compensations .

The Saxe-Coburg prince was elected king by the Congress (June 4); and in redemption of their undertaking the Conference promulgated (June 26) the preliminary treaty, generally known as the Treaty of the XVIII Articles. By this treaty the question of Luxemburg was reserved for a separate negotiation, the status quo being meanwhile maintained. Other boundary disputes (Maestricht, Limburg and various enclaves ) were to be amicably arranged, and the share of Belgium in the public debt was reduced. Leopold had made his acceptance of the crown depend upon the assent of the Congress being given to the Treaty. This assent was given, but in the face of strong opposition (July 9); and the new king made his public entry into Brussels and took the oath to the Constitution twelve days later. On the same day (July 21) the Dutch king refused to [pg.399] accept the XVIII Articles, declaring that he adhered to the protocols of January 20 and 27, which the plenipotentiaries had themselves declared (April 15) to be fundamental and irrevocable. Nor did he confine himself to a refusal. He declared that if any prince should accept the sovereignty of Belgium or take possession of it without having assented to the protocols as the basis of separation he could only regard such prince as his enemy. He followed this up (August 2) by a despatch addressed to the Foreign Ministers of the Five Powers, announcing his intention "to throw his army into the balance with a view to obtaining more equitable terms of separation."

These were no empty words. The facile success of the Belgian revolution had led to the Dutch army being branded as a set of cowards. The king, therefore, despite a solemn warning from the Conference, was determined to show the world that Holland was perfectly able to assert her rights by armed force if she chose to do so. In this course he had the whole-hearted support of his people. It was a bold act politically justified by events. Unexpectedly, on August 2, the Prince of Orange at the head of an army of 30,000 picked men with 72 guns crossed the frontier. The Belgians were quite taken by surprise. Their army, though not perhaps inferior in numbers to the invaders, was badly organised, and was divided into two parts—the army of the Scheldt and the army of the Meuse. The prince knew that he must act with promptness and decision, and he thrust his army by rapid movements between the two Belgian corps. That of the Meuse fell back in great disorder upon Liège; that of the Scheldt was also forced to beat a rapid retreat. Leopold, whose reign was not yet a fortnight old, joined the western corps and did all that man could do to organise and stiffen resistance. At Louvain (August 12) he made a last effort to save the capital and repeatedly exposed his life, but the Belgians were completely routed and Brussels lay at the victor's mercy. It was a terrible humiliation for the new Belgian state. But the prince had accomplished his task and did not advance beyond Louvain. On hearing that a French army, at the invitation of King Leopold, had entered Belgium with the sanction of the Powers, he concluded an armistice, by the mediation of the British Minister, Sir Robert Adair, and undertook to evacuate Belgian territory. His army recrossed the Dutch frontier (August 20), and the French thereupon withdrew.

The Ten Days' Campaign had effected its purpose; and, when the [pg.400] Conference met to consider the new situation, it was felt that the XVIII Articles must be revised. Belgium, saved only from conquest by French intervention, had to pay the penalty of defeat. A new treaty in XXIV Articles was drawn up, and was (October 14) again declared to be final and irrevocable. By this treaty the northwestern (Walloon) portion of Luxemburg was assigned to Belgium, but at the cost of ceding to Holland a considerable piece of Belgian Limburg giving the Dutch the command of both banks of the river Meuse from Maestricht to the Gelderland frontier. The proportion of the debt was likewise altered in favour of Holland. King William was informed that he must obtain the assent of the Germanic Confederation and of the Nassau agnates to the territorial adjustments.

These conditions created profound dissatisfaction both in Belgium and Holland. It was again the unhappy Luxemburg question which caused so much heart-burning. The Conference however felt itself bound by the territorial arrangements of the Congress of Vienna; and Palmerston and Talleyrand, acting in concert throughout, could not on this matter overrule the opposition of Prussia and Austria supported by Russia. All they could do was to secure the compromise by which Walloon Luxemburg was given to Belgium in exchange for territorial compensation in Limburg. Belgian feeling was strong against surrendering any part either of Luxemburg or Limburg; but King Leopold saw that surrender was inevitable and by a threat of abdication he managed to secure, though against vehement opposition, the acceptance of the Treaty of the XXIV Articles by the Belgian Chambers (November 1). The treaty was signed at London by the plenipotentiaries of the Five Great Powers and by the Belgian envoy, Van de Weyer, on November 15, 1831; and Belgium was solemnly recognised as an independent State, whose perpetual neutrality and inviolability was guaranteed by each of the signatories severally [13].

 Once more the obstinacy of King William proved an insuperable obstacle to a settlement. He had expected better results from the Ten Days' Campaign, and he emphatically denied the right of the Conference to interfere with the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, as this was not a Belgian question, but concerned only the House of [pg.401] Nassau and the Germanic Confederation. He also objected to the proposed regulations regarding the navigation of the river Scheldt, and refused to evacuate Antwerp or other places occupied by Dutch troops. He was aware that Great Britain and France had taken the leading part in drawing up the treaty, but he relied for support upon his close family relations with Prussia and Russia [14], with whom Austria acted. But, although these Powers bore him good will, they had no intention of encouraging his resistance. Their object in delaying their ratification of the treaty was to afford time to bring good advice to bear upon the unbending temper of the Dutch king. The Tsar even sent Count Alexis Orloff on a special mission to the Hague, with instructions to act with the Prussian and Austrian envoys in urging William to take a reasonable course. All their efforts ended in failure.

During the first nine months of the year 1832 a vigorous exchange of notes took place between London and the Hague; and the Conference did its utmost to effect an accommodation. At last patience was exhausted, and the Powers had to threaten coercion. The three eastern Powers declined indeed to take any active share in coercive measures, but were willing that Great Britain and France should be their delegates. Palmerston and Talleyrand, however, were determined that the King of Holland should no longer continue to defy the will of the European Great Powers; and on October 22 the English and French governments concluded a Convention for joint action. Notice was given to King William (November 2) that he must withdraw his troops before November 13 from all places assigned to Belgium by the Treaty of the XXIV Articles. If he refused, the Dutch ports would be blockaded and an embargo placed upon Dutch ships in the allies' harbours. Further, if on November 13 any Dutch garrisons remained on Belgian soil, they would be expelled by armed force. William at once (November 2) replied to the notice by a flat refusal. In so acting he had behind him the practically unanimous support of Dutch public opinion. The allies took prompt measures. An Anglo-French squadron set sail (November 7) to blockade the Dutch ports and the mouth of the Scheldt; and in response to an appeal from the Belgian government (as was required by the terms of the Convention) a French army of 60,000 men under [pg.402] Marshal Gérard crossed the Belgian frontier (November 15) and laid siege to the Antwerp citadel, held by a garrison of 5000 men commanded by General Chassé. The siege began on November 20, and it was not until December 22 that Chassé, after a most gallant defence, was compelled to capitulate. Rear-Admiral Koopman preferred to burn his twelve gunboats rather than surrender them to the enemy. Marshal Gérard offered to release his prisoners if the Dutch would evacuate the forts of Lillo and Liefkenshoeck, lower down the river. His offer was refused; and the French army, having achieved its purpose, withdrew. For some time longer the blockade and embargo continued, to the great injury of Dutch trade. An interchange of notes between the Hague and London led to the drawing up of a convention, known as the Convention of London, on May 21, 1833. By this agreement King William undertook to commit no acts of hostility against Belgium until a definitive treaty of peace was signed, and to open the navigation of the Scheldt and the Meuse for commerce. The Convention was in fact a recognition of the status quo and was highly advantageous to Belgium, as both Luxemburg and Limburg were ad interim treated as if they were integral parts of the new kingdom.

The cessation of hostilities, however, led to a fresh attempt to reach a settlement. In response to an invitation sent by the western Powers to Austria, Prussia and Russia, the Conference again met in London on July 15. The thread of the negotiations was taken up; but the Belgian government insisted, with the full support of Palmerston, that as a preliminary to any further discussion the King of Holland must obtain the assent of the German Confederation and of the Nassau agnates to the proposed territorial rearrangements. William declined to ask for this assent. The Conference on this was indefinitely suspended. That the king's refusal in August was a part of his fixed policy of waiting upon events was shown by his actually approaching the Confederation and the agnates in the following November (1833). Neither of these would consent to any partition of Luxemburg, unless they received full territorial compensation elsewhere. So matters drifted on through the years 1834-1837. Meanwhile in Holland a change of opinion had been gradually taking place. The heavy taxes consequent upon the maintenance of an army on a war footing pressed more and more upon a Country whose income was insufficient to meet its expenses. People grew [pg.403] tired of waiting for a change in the political position that became every year more remote. Luxemburg was of little interest to the Dutch; they only saw that Belgium was prosperous, and that the maintenance of the status quo was apparently all to her advantage. The dissatisfaction of the Dutch people, so long patient and loyal, made itself heard with increasing insistence in the States-General; and the king saw that the time had arrived for abandoning his obstinate non-possumus attitude. Accordingly, in March, 1838, he suddenly instructed his minister in London (Dedel) to inform Palmerston that he (the king) was ready to sign the treaty of the XXIV Articles, and to agree pleinement et entièrement to the conditions it imposed.

The unexpected news of this sudden step came upon the Belgians like a thunderclap. From every part of the kingdom arose a storm of protest against any surrender of territory. The people of Luxemburg and Limburg appealed to their fellow-citizens not to abandon them; and their appeal met with the strongest support from all classes and in both Chambers. They argued that Holland had refused to sign the treaty of 1831, which had been imposed on Belgium in her hour of defeat; and that now, after seven years, the treaty had ceased to be in force and required revision. The Belgians expected to receive support from Great Britain and France, and more especially from Palmerston, their consistent friend. But Palmerston was tired of the endless wrangling; and, acting on his initiative, the Five Powers determined that they would insist on the Treaty of the XXIV Articles being carried out as it stood. The Conference met again in October, 1838; and all the efforts of the Belgian government, and of King Leopold personally, to obtain more favoured terms proved unavailing. An offer to pay sixty million francs indemnity for Luxemburg and Limburg was rejected both by King William and the Germanic Confederation. Such was the passionate feeling in Belgium that there was actually much talk of resisting in the last resort by force of arms. Volunteers poured in; and in Holland also the government began to make military preparations. But it was an act of sheer madness for isolated Belgium to think of opposing the will of the Great Powers of Europe. The angry interchange of diplomatic notes resulted only in one modification in favour of Belgium. The annual charge of 8,400,000 francs placed upon Belgium on account of her share in the public debt [pg.404] of the Netherlands was reduced to a payment of 5,000,000 francs. The Dutch king signed the treaty on February 1, 1839. Finally the proposal that the treaty should be signed, opposition being useless, met with a sullen assent from the two Belgian Chambers. On April 19, 1839, the Belgian envoy, Van de Weyer, affixed his signature at the Foreign Office in London and so brought to an end the long controversy, which had lasted for nine years. There were still many details to be settled between the two kingdoms, which from this time became two separate and distinct political entities; but these were finally arranged in an amicable spirit, and were embodied in a subsidiary treaty signed November 5, 1842.


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