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John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, 1625-1672

John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, 1625-1672

HERBERT HARVEY ROWEN
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 968
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1c5x
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  • Book Info
    John de Witt, Grand Pensionary of Holland, 1625-1672
    Book Description:

    Known to his contemporaries for his sharpness of mind, strength of purpose, fortitude, and good humor, John de Witt was a brilliant leader whose career ended in a death of horror rarely paralleled in history. Herbert Rowen's biography embraces all aspects of De Witt's political, intellectual, and personal life, including his role as a mathematician admired by Newton, an "unphilosophical Cartesian," and a political thinker.

    The author describes De Witt's youth, Dutch society of his day, and his central part in the domestic and foreign politics of the Dutch Republic from 1651 to 1672. He puts De Witt's relation to the House of Orange in a new light, more subtle than in the traditional history. He also examines in detail De Witt's system of government as councilor pensionary of Holland.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7091-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
    H.H.R.
  4. A NOTE ON NAMES, PERSONAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. PROLOGUE: THE LANCES ARE BLUNTED
    (pp. 3-4)

    Sixteen twenty-five was a hard year for the Dutch. Their war of independence against Spain, confidently resumed in 1621 after twelve years of truce, was going badly. Maurice of Nassau, the stadholder and commander-in-chief, had lost the touch of victory. In March, after a siege of eleven months, the fortress of Breda in northern Brabant fell to the wily, persistent Spinola. The silky courtesy of the victorious Spaniard, eternalized in Velásquez’sLas Lanzas,did not make defeat less bitter or dangerous for the Dutch. Breda was the key to the Generality Lands, the strip of northern Flanders and Brabant reconquered...

  7. CHAPTER ONE YOUTH (1625–1650)
    (pp. 5-24)

    Dordrecht (or Dort, as it is also known in Dutch and English), as the oldest city in Holland-it dates from the eleventh century-was the first in rank in the province. Situated in the heart of the Rhine-Maas delta, it had seemed destined for economic leadership during the Middle Ages. Its merchants traded upstream to Germany and over the North Sea to England in such wares as Rhine and Moselle wines and lumber, and it had the staple for English cloth. By the seventeenth century, however, its trade had fallen far behind Amsterdam’s, while Leiden and Haarlem were more important as...

  8. CHAPTER TWO HOLLAND VERSUS THE PRINCE (1649–1650)
    (pp. 25-49)

    In January 1648 the United Provinces made “sweet Peace” with Spain,¹ a happy ending to an Eighty Years War for independence. Dutchmen felt that their “Golden Age” was beginning. The Republic of the United Provinces was for its members rich beyond compare among the states of Europe; it was excelled in absolute wealth only by a France ten times more populous. Dutch riches flowed from thriving trade, fishing, and shipping, for Holland served not only as the general emporium for Europe but was also the principal carrier of the continent's goods and the producer of a considerable part of them....

  9. CHAPTER THREE THE PATH TO POWER (January 1651–February 1652)
    (pp. 50-67)

    For seven months of 1651, from deep winter until high summer, the political life of the republic was centered in the Great Assembly in The Hague. It did not become a joint meeting of the provincial States, as Holland had wanted. The other provinces sent only fractions of their assemblies to join their permanent deputies to the States General. This was enough, however. The Hollanders were able to negotiate directly with members of the other ruling assemblies, not just with deputies who had no right of final decision. It also meant that many issues could be discussed face to face,...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR WAR WITH CROMWELL (May 1652–July 1653)
    (pp. 68-96)

    The first report of the battle off Dover reached The Hague on the evening of June 4.¹ The next day a crowd of youths gathered in front of the stadholder’s quarters in the Binnenhof, waving orange banners and demanding to see the baby Prince William. De Witt heard of the disturbance from his uncle Quentin de Veer, who was bailiff of The Hague and helped to disperse the assemblage. When De Witt came back to The Hague, De Veer wrote, he would learn some things that could not be entrusted to paper. Although we do not know what De Veer...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE LIFE IN THE HAGUE (1653–1660)
    (pp. 97-111)

    De Witt’s promotion from pensionary and deputy of Dordrecht to chief functionary of the province meant that The Hague became his permanent residence, not just his place of duty away from home. It was then a small city of notable charm, only a half hour across the dunes from the sea, whence came fresh winds that moderated the heat of summer. The dunes, where coneys roamed in large numbers, were a place of relaxation. The moats around the town were planted with trees, and the road and footpaths were well laid out. To south and west there were still meadowlands...

  12. CHAPTER SIX FROM AFFLUENCE TO FORTUNE
    (pp. 112-132)

    As councilor pensionary, De Witt held a post that demanded that he live well. His marriage to Wendela brought him into circles that were accustomed to more than modest wealth. He therefore set himself to achieve financial independence. Loans and gifts from his father, such as tided him over the first months in office, were not a permanent answer to his situation.

    He went at his new task in his habitual systematic way. He learned the necessary bookkeeping techniques and recorded his personal accounts in a heavy double-folio book. It shows the growth of his fortune between 1655 and 1668....

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN THE CRAFT OF POLITICS
    (pp. 133-153)

    As councilor pensionary of Holland, De Witt practiced the art of politics not as an innovator but as a skillful craftsman who takes up the means at hand and uses them as best he can. He knew that the craft of politics had its rules and that there were innumerable tricks of the trade which did not assure the success of policy but which, if neglected, increased the likelihood of failure. The words used by the Brandenburg diplomat Daniel Weiman to describe the difficulties of his own task applied even more to that of the councilor pensionary:

    It is indeed...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT THE MASTER OF PATRONAGE
    (pp. 154-169)

    However efficient De Witt’s inside administration in carrying through the technical work of execution of policy, the achievement of political support lay outside De Witt’s private cabinet in the broad world of the regents. It was De Witt’s own task to persuade them and keep them persuaded, so far as he could, that the policy he favored was good for the state and good for them But that was not enough. He could never forget that they responded with instant immediacy to the appeal of public office, which brought power and wealth. De Writt could largely dominate Dutch politics for...

  15. CHAPTER NINE THE MANAGER OF STATE FINANCE
    (pp. 170-190)

    In the Dutch Republic, where the processes and functions of government were so little differentiated, a statesman had to be a jack-of-all trades, and no craft of state was more important than the management of public finances. It was a task that drew far less public attention than the direction of foreign policy, yet one whose results ordinarily came home to subjects, in their purses and money boxes, more quickly and directly than subtle combinations of diplomacy. De Witt was the almost undisputed manager of the finances of the States of Holland and the most influential voice in the fiscal...

  16. CHAPTER TEN TOWARD PEACE (July 1653–April 1654)
    (pp. 191-214)

    De Witt began his administration with the inglorious necessity of making a peace without victory, a peace in defeat, for the sake of the republic’s survival. But he had to persuade—if need be, to trick—the country into peace at a price it did not want to pay. So long as hope remained that their navy could snatch victory away from the English, the Dutch did not have to face this hard necessity square on.

    A fisherman came in at Maaslandsluis late in July after sailing unmolested through the English fleet lying off Egmond, and he reported having seen...

  17. CHAPTER ELEVEN EXCLUSION OF THE PRINCE (April–August 1654)
    (pp. 215-237)

    It was a good sign for the success of the crucial meeting of the States of Holland on April 28 that not one of the delegated councilors had stayed away from the preparatory meeting on April 16, and only one member, Leiden’s, had given any hint of recalcitrance. The message of convocation had been deliberately silent on the great matter that the deputies would find put before them. De Witt wrote of his hopes to Van Beverningk and Nieupoort in his own hand, not trusting a clerk. Several of the leading towns had declared themselves “absolutely and without consultation”; deputies...

  18. CHAPTER TWELVE DIPLOMACY: CRAFT AND ART
    (pp. 238-256)

    To the larger world outside the Netherlands, De Witt, as “Grand Pensionary” (as diplomats usually called Holland’s councilor pensionary), was essentially the minister of foreign affairs of the United Provinces. This description is anachronistic if by it we mean one who held a specific office;¹ only in France was there such an official in the later seventeenth century. But it is quite accurate if used for one who performed a function that had not yet concretized into an office, and would not become so in most countries for more than a century. It was a function which dated back to...

  19. CHAPTER THIRTEEN AS ENGLAND GOES . . . (1654–1660)
    (pp. 257-270)

    The war with england had been a harsh lesson for De Witt in the fundamentals of foreign policy. It taught him that for the Dutch a war with England—and the same held true for war with France—meant risking disaster, while victory could not bring positive gains but only avert losses. The Treaty of Westminster had restored peace, to be sure, if by peace is meant the absence of war. Although similarity of religion and form of government brought some measure of good will between the two states, the embers of hostility still glowed. English merchants watched with furious...

  20. CHAPTER FOURTEEN NOT QUITE FRIENDS OR FOES (1652–1660)
    (pp. 271-302)

    Although relations with England remained paramount in Dutch foreign policy in the years between the Peace of Westminster and the restoration of Charles II, those with France and Spain were hardly less important, and complex and difficult problems arose in relations with lesser states. The same basic considerations were dominant: how to stay at peace, while avoiding unnecessary or excessive entanglements, and how to reap the benefits of peace in trade and shipping.

    The relations of the United Provinces with France swung back and forth between thin amity and open emnity. At the level of grand policy, the French remained...

  21. CHAPTER FIFTEEN THE EMBROILED BALTIC (1652–1657)
    (pp. 303-316)

    Once peace had been made at Westminster, the problem that pressed hardest upon Dutch diplomacy concerned neither England nor France, and certainly not the lesser states. It was the Baltic, where the heirs of Gustavus Adolphus still sought dominion over the great inland sea for Sweden. The Dutch wanted something else for the Baltic, however—peace, which would enable them to trade cheaply and sail safely. It was a region that provided them with essential grain, metal, and naval stores and bought the goods carried by ships whose annual profits, as the Swedish resident at The Hague was told in...

  22. CHAPTER SIXTEEN STORM IN THE NORTH (1657–1660)
    (pp. 317-333)

    On june 15, 1657, the king of Denmark informed the States General that he had declared war upon Sweden, and asked for Dutch assistance.¹ Without it, Frederick III would be not only an aggressor but, by all odds, a foolish one, for he was weaker than his antagonist. Yet Van Beuningen, who had already discussed the anticipated war with the Danish ministers, hoped that the Danes would win a quick victory. On June 17, he con cluded a treaty amplifying the existing alliance between Denmark and the States General, and he saw his own task as accomplished. He was ready...

  23. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN HOLLAND POLITICS (1654–1660)
    (pp. 334-355)

    Mastery of the province’s politics was the essential task set upon De Witt’s shoulders as councilor pensionary of Holland.¹ This meant more than just managing the business of the assembly of Their Noble Great Mightinesses; it also meant guiding and influencing the decisions of the “members” of the States of Holland, i.e., the Nobility and the voting towns. His leadership rested upon his superior knowledge, his ability to formulate policy in provincial and national terms rather than just in those of the interests of a single town, and his control of the “States party.”

    He began, however, by obeying with...

  24. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN A CLASHING HARMONY (1654–1660)
    (pp. 356-379)

    The adoption of the Act of Exclusion by the States of Holland was not a hollow victory, but it lacked finality. The province of Holland, and within it the party of the “True Freedom” led by De Witt, could impose its will to the extent that the hostile party could not thwart a measure like this, made imperative by a lost war. But the “Loevestein faction,” as its enemies continued to call it in mixed hatred and scorn, could not eliminate the party that supported the restoration of the house of Orange, and if it could defeat one by one...

  25. CHAPTER NINETEEN THE ANOMALOUS REPUBLICAN
    (pp. 380-400)

    To call into question the republican convictions of John de Witt would seem to fly in the face of the obvious. In the historical memory of the Dutch nation he is the very model of the republican statesman. His republicanism was so evident to his nineteenth-century biographer, Lefèvre-Pontalis, that he entitled his life of the grand pensionaryTwenty Years of a Parliamentary Republic in the Seventeenth Century.¹ Yet the anachronism of this title—for there was no “parliamentary republic” in the seventeenthcentury Netherlands anything like the French Third Republic, which Lefèvre-Pontalis had in mind—derives at least in part from...

  26. CHAPTER TWENTY THE UNPHILOSOPHICAL CARTESIAN
    (pp. 401-419)

    The stamp of “Cartesian” was firmly fixed upon De Witt; yet, except in mathematics, he was not truly a Cartesian. It was enough that he defended the philosophical disciples of Rene Descartes in the Dutch universities, that he was their friend with power, even if without full understanding of their doctrines. In the Dutch Republic preachers and pamphleteers, and even philosophers, saw political consequences in philosophical schools. It was not exceptional that the author of a pamphlet defending the Peace of Münster should accuse its detractors of being “Pyrrhonists, who dispute that snow is white, fire hot, ice cold, and...

  27. CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE THE CHURCHES AND THE STATE
    (pp. 420-441)

    Religion was for De Witt a fact of life, universal and personal. He accepted God's blessings and punishments with almost identical equanimity. One had to resign oneself “absolutely” to the will of God, “who has ordered that we shall all die some time.” Nonetheless, he was desirous of life, for himself and for those he loved.¹ Although he believed the dogmas of the Dutch Reformed Church as set down by the Synod of Dordrecht, he was wholly strange to thefuror theologicus.He was denounced as an Arminian, an “Oldenbarnevelt reborn,” yet the name of Oldenbarnevelt, who had defended the...

  28. CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO THE ROYAL GUEST (May–June 1660)
    (pp. 442-447)

    ON May 14, 1660, the States General received from Princess Mary at Breda a letter in her own hand with the news that her brother Charles had been proclaimed king in London on May 11. Although official confirmation did not come from ambassador Nieupoort for five days, Their High Mightinesses at once sent a delegation to Breda to give con gratulations to Charles II, the dukes of York and Gloucester, and the princess herself.¹ On De Witt’s proposal, the States of Holland sent their own delegation to join the representatives of the Generality. Its leadership was given to Louis of...

  29. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE ENGLAND: THE COLLAPSE OF FRIENDSHIP (1660–1664)
    (pp. 448-464)

    Whether Cromwell or Charles Stuart ruled in England mattered little to De Witt, provided the country did not “fall back into renewal of change and revolutions.” This only fostered Dutch “broils” with England, and these brought the United Provinces no good.¹ As for Charles, he too needed good relations with his neighbor across the North Sea. He was, in raw political terms, king by grace of the English nation and had a very uncertain power over it. This was therefore an opportunity for the Dutch to advance their interests, but one that might be fleeting; it had to be used...

  30. CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR FRANCE: THE DUBIOUS ALLY (1660–1664)
    (pp. 465-490)

    The restoration of Charles II as king in England impelled the United Provinces and France to reconsider their policies toward each other. If Charles II used his power to help his nephew, William III, to regain his father’s posts and power in the Dutch state, England and the Dutch Republic would inevitably become allies, with France quite possibly the principal target of their ambitions. Faced by a peril of the very first order, the French court became readier than it had been for a decade to seek better relations with the governing party in The Hague. A French tie for...

  31. CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE LIFE IN THE HAGUE (1660–1672)
    (pp. 491-512)

    The scale of De Witt’s life in The Hague rose with his increased income after appointment as keeper of the great seal. He bought a new carriage and at his brother’s insistence had the family coat of arms put on it, although he refused to permit mapmaker Blaeuw to use the heraldic device on a map of Holland, calling it detestable “ostentation.” The household, in addition to the members of the family, consisted of three maidservants, a nurse, and a coachman. Jacob de Witt, who had come to live with his younger son, had his own valet. There were also...

  32. CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX A NEW PLACE FOR ORANGE? (1660–1664)
    (pp. 513-545)

    Charles II’s remarks on his departure from The Hague in June 1660, entrusting his sister and his nephew to Their Noble Great Mightinesses, set the political stage in the Netherlands. For De Witt and his party it meant that their most urgent task at home was to achieve a settlement of the status of the prince that would satisfy the king without enabling him to overpower Dutch independence from within. The Act of Exclusion would obviously come off the law books of Holland; but what would be done in its place, for the prince and not against him, was not...

  33. CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN POLITICS AT HOME (1660–1664)
    (pp. 546-573)

    The new decade brought to De Witt the completion of his position as Holland’s servant-leader. The councilor pensionary had usually held at the same time the posts of stadholder and master of the registers of the fiefs of Holland and keeper of its great seal, but Cats had retained them as a sinecure when he resigned in 1651.¹ In 1656 the order of the Nobility had formally promised that the offices would be granted to De Witt when Cats died or resigned them.² The promise was made good in 1660, when the aging poet-statesman put down the first of these...

  34. CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT KING CHARLES’S WAR (1665–1667)
    (pp. 574-597)

    The clash between De Ruyter and Holmes on the Guinea Coast was soon followed by acts of war in Europe.¹ On December 29, off Cadiz, Sir Thomas Allin with seven ships attacked the Smyrna fleet on its way home, but the little Dutch convoy fought off the English and lost only 3 of the 11 ships it was protecting. In England, Charles II publicly instructed admiralty courts to confiscate all Dutch ships in English harbors or at sea, and more than 130 were seized. De Witt found this an adequate equivalent to a formal declaration of war, which did not...

  35. CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE THE MOUSE THAT BIT A LION (1665–1666)
    (pp. 598-610)

    The outbreak of war in 1665 between the United Provinces and Great Britain, the two great Protestant sea powers, gave to Bishop von Galen of Münster, a churchman whose love of weapons clashed with his ecclesiastical virtues, in the words of an astute observer, the opportunity to attempt what he had long dreamed of, the establishment of a strong Catholic state on the lower Rhine.¹

    Galen was encouraged in the early months of the Anglo-Dutch war by the apparent readiness of Brandenburg and Mainz to join him in seizing the opportunity to regain rights withheld from them by the United...

  36. CHAPTER THIRTY THE WAY TO BREDA (1665–1667)
    (pp. 611-633)

    Again and again during the second English war De Witt’s battle cry—wage war to make peace!—rang out in his letters. He anticipated by almost two centuries the formula by which Clausewitz brought the two contraries into natural relationship: War is the continuation of politics by violent means; combat is a way of preventing an enemy from imposing his will upon yours while imposing your own upon him. For the Dutch to impose their will upon Charles II in this strange war they had to do no more than prevent him from imposing his will upon them; letting things...

  37. CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE FRANCE: THE RELUCTANT ALLY (1665–1667)
    (pp. 634-658)

    Throughout the two and a half years of the second English war the belligerents fought and talked with an eye over the shoulder for the third great power, France, which helped the one as a dubious ally and fought the other with plain reluctance. Keeping France as friendly as possible was a constant concern in the foreign policy of the United Provinces as guided by De Witt in these years. It was not an easy task. For the moment the problem did not lie in commercial and maritime rivalry with France, although Colbert had taken the lead in the government...

  38. CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO WARTIME POLITICS (1665–1667)
    (pp. 659-682)

    Although De Witt gave his primary attention all during the second English war to the task of defeating the enemy militarily and diplomatically, he could never put aside for long his guidance of domestic politics. If he lost his hold within the country, he would imperil his very ability to lead its war effort. Domestic politics was in part a continuation of the usual rivalries of towns and provinces and in part a renewed and intensified struggle of the friends of the prince of Orange to put him back in the offices of his forefathers.

    De Witt was almost alone...

  39. CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE (August 1667–June 1668)
    (pp. 683-708)

    The Breda peace brought the war with England to a glorious end, but De Witt had little time to spare for savoring a triumph universally acknowledged to be his achievement. The diplomatic situation of the Dutch Republic was, if anything, more snarled than ever, more filled with puzzling complexities. The peril from England gave way to less immediate but even greater danger from the south, where it seemed that France would need only some months or at most another year to complete its conquest of the Spanish Netherlands. The obvious means for warding off the threat was a league of...

  40. CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR THE DOVER TREATY (June 1668–June 1670)
    (pp. 709-730)

    The War of Devolution was at an end, but peace was anything but assured. It depended overwhelmingly on the success of the strategy De Witt had used to achieve the peace, which was, in Wicquefort’s words, “to live on good terms with England [and] give no umbrage to France.”¹ It was a task that would require the utmost in diplomatic deftness, especially in the key courts in France and England. Just at this juncture De Witt found himself without men of competence in either Paris or London. William Boreel, the ordinary ambassador in France, had never been particularly able and...

  41. CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE THE FRUITS OF DOVER (June 1670–April 1672)
    (pp. 731-759)

    The Treaty of Dover was a triumph of secretiveness. The demeanor of Charles II may have been that of “a conspirator, not a patriot king,”¹ but, amid the revels, the decisions remained inviolate, and that was what mattered. Boreel not only remained in the dark, he pulled the blinkers over his own eyes. Three times before going back to London he reiterated to De Witt his confidence that the French had been disappointed in their expectations and that the Triple Alliance was still intact.² Yet, by the end of the month it was rumored that the league was “quite broken,”...

  42. CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX QUEST FOR NEW ALLIES (1668–1672)
    (pp. 760-780)

    The year 1668 had begun with what the world saw as a diplomatic triumph for De Witt—the Triple Alliance, which brought new allies to the Dutch republic at the same time as the old alliances remained in force, at least formally. Over the next four years, however, the triumph proved a hollow one: the two chief alliances were undermined and overturned, so that disaster threatened in the spring of 1672. But De Witt had not looked on passively; although unable to solve the puzzle of Dutch relations with France and England, he tried as best he could to replace...

  43. CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN THE PRINCE STARTS BACK (1667–1670)
    (pp. 781-797)

    Whatever equivocations and uncertainties lay behind the Eternal Edict, it marked for the general public, which knew only what it saw, the triumph of De Witt and the States party over the cause of Prince William. The enactment of the edict was linked by a pamphleteer “who loves the freedom of Holland” with the victory of Cornelius de Witt in the Medway.¹ But where the naval triumph had brought an end to the war, the passage of the edict did not assure the solidity of De Witt's authority. On the contrary, it required his constant attention, as the French ambassador...

  44. CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT THE PRINCE ADVANCES (June 1670–April 1672)
    (pp. 798-814)

    The election of William III to the Council of State did not bring civil peace to the republic. On the contrary, it whetted the appetite of the prince and his supporters, and they set their eyes on the captaincy general as the next goal. The rapidly growing realization that France was intent upon war against the republic made the post of commander in chief all the more important, by giving military leadership a preponderance it did not possess in peacetime.

    The ambitions of the prince were brought home almost at once in an episode that involved his rights as a...

  45. CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE THE DESPERATE MONTHS (April–June 1672)
    (pp. 815-839)

    De Witt took the occasion of the French declaration of war to reaffirm his judgment of the origins of the conflict. It provided, he wrote to the Dutch ambassador in Sweden, “clear proof” that the indignation of Louis XIV derived solely from Dutch interference with his plans to become master of the Spanish Netherlands. It was “palpable” that if there had been any other reason, “it would have been explicitly expressed,” but this could not be done, lest the obligations of Sweden under the Triple Alliance be brought into force.¹ In a letter to the bishops of France Louis XIV...

  46. CHAPTER FORTY THE FALL FROM POWER (June–August 1672)
    (pp. 840-860)

    By the time De Groot returned from the French camp, the course of events at The Hague was no longer in De Witt’s hands. For weeks there had been venomous attacks against the councilor pensionary in speech and in numerous pamphlets, which “seemed to rain from the sky.” He was accused of everything from neglecting the defenses of the country to selling it out.¹ “We are betrayed, sold out, handed over!” was the popular outcry.² Hatred of De Witt as the chief obstacle for so long in the advancement of the prince of Orange merged with the need for a...

  47. CHAPTER FORTY-ONE THE FINAL HORROR (July–August 1672)
    (pp. 861-884)

    The defense of his reputation and honor, even the laying down of his office—these mattered greatly to De Witt. Yet his deepest concern from July 24 had been the arrest of his brother in Dordrecht under accusation of plotting the assassination of the prince of Orange. Cornelius had been home, bedridden with the illness that had brought him back from the fleet, since June 4. On June 21, at just about the hour of the attack upon his brother in The Hague, four armed men had come to his home and asked to speak to him. When they tried...

  48. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 885-894)

    The bodies of John and Cornelius were in the ground, but the life of family and country went on. Johanna de Witt took charge of the family, because her father, now eighty-three years of age, although still sound of mind, could no longer do so. On the afternoon when the danger had risen on the Square a block to the east, she had sent Jacob and the children to the refuge provided by two Anabaptist sisters who were seamstresses for the De Witt family and aunts of John’s domestic clerk, Reinier van den Ouwenaller. They stayed all night in the...

  49. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 895-928)
  50. INDEX
    (pp. 929-948)
  51. Back Matter
    (pp. 949-949)