Dutch States Party

The Dutch States Party[1] (without the qualifier "Dutch" if the meaning is clear from the context) is the name used in Anglophone historiography for the faction in the politics of the Dutch Republic referred to in (older) Dutch historiography as the Staatsgezinde partij.[2]:8–12 This republican faction is usually (negatively) defined as the opponents of the Orangist, or Prinsgezinde faction, who supported the monarchical aspirations of the stadtholders, who were usually (in this context) members of the House of Orange-Nassau.[3] The two factions existed during the entire history of the Republic since the Twelve Years' Truce, be it that the role of "usual opposition party" of the States party was taken over by the Patriots after the Orangist revolution of 1747.[4] The States party was in the ascendancy during the First Stadtholderless Period and the Second Stadtholderless Period.

Ideological characteristics

The two factions were not political parties in the modern sense of the word. They were mostly kept together by animosity between families belonging to the Regenten class on the local level, for reasons that differed between localities. These local factions might take sides to either faction simply based on the fact that their opponents were loyal to the other faction. There was little explicit ideological coherence, and whatever ideology existed on either side differed with changing circumstances over the course of the history of the Republic.[2]:10 Still, since the days of the conflict between Maurice, Prince of Orange and Land's Advocate of Holland Johan van Oldenbarnevelt[5] the States Party stood for provincial sovereignty, vested in the provincial States (like the States of Holland), whereas the Orangist party emphasized the "supra-provincial" sovereignty, residing in the States-General of the Netherlands.[2]:15ff. The supremacy of the provincial States was first defended by François Vranck in his debate with Thomas Wilkes in 1587 during the rule of the Earl of Leicester as governor-general under the English protectorate, and later taken up by Hugo Grotius in his De antiquitate reipublicae Batavicae (On the Antiquity of the Batavian Republic).[6] The theme was taken up again during the conflict between stadtholder William II and the States of Holland in 1650, in which first the Prince prevailed, and after his death the States, ushering in the "True Freedom" of the First Stadtholderless Period.[2]:17

The doctrine of the "True Freedom" was expounded by political philosophers like the Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt in his "Deduction"[7] and Pieter de la Court in his the Interest van Holland (Interest of Holland) and De stadthouderlijcke regeeringe in Hollandt ende West-Vrieslandt (History of the stadholders of Holland and West-Friesland). In these works the doctrine was extended into a distinctly anti-monarchical and pro-republican direction as a justification for the de facto abolition of the office of stadtholder in most provinces as "superfluous" and "positively harmful to the general welfare."[8]:758–790


Some of the most important representatives of the States Party in the history of the Republic were:


First Stadtholderless Period

Second Stadtholderless Period

References and Notes

  1. Grammatically better would be: "States' Party", but the possessive apostrophe is almost never used in the literature, just like in Dutch States Army.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Troost, Wout (2005). William III the Stadholder-King: A Political Biography. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  3. In the days that there were stadtholders who were not members of that House, the factions did not yet exist.
  4. The States-party regenten were equally opposed to the democratic tendencies among the Patriots as the Orangist regenten.
  5. When the States Party was referred to as the Loevesteiners (after the state prison, Loevestein, where the leaders of the Oldenbarnevelt faction were incarcerated).
  6. During their trial for treason the Loevesteiners disputed the competency of the ad hoc court that tried them on the ground that the court had been established by the States-General in an usurpation of the sovereignty of the States of Holland.
  7. Deductie, ofte Declaratie, uyt de Fondamenten der Regieringe, tot justificatie vande Acten van Seclusie, raeckende 't employ vanden Prince van Oraigne (Deduction, or Declaration, from the foundations of the government, as justification of the Act of Seclusion, concerning the employment of the Prince of Orange).
  8. Israel, J.I. (1995). The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477-1806. Oxford U.P. ISBN 0-19-873072-1.
  9. Who was the last States-Party Grand Pensionary; he was an unimportant politician, but so tainted by his partisanship that the Orangists, led by Willem Bentinck van Rhoon demanded his dismissal in 1749 after the appointment of William IV, Prince of Orange as stadtholder-general.
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