Orangism (Dutch Republic)

Cornelis Tromp by Abraham Evertsz. van Westerveld (ca. 1666). Tromp is pictured in Roman costume. His orangist sympathies are reflected by the color of his mantle.
This article is about pre-1795 Dutch Orangism. For monarchism in the Netherlands, see Orangism (Kingdom of the Netherlands). For other uses, see Orangism.

In the history of the Dutch Republic, Orangism or prinsgezindheid ("pro-prince stance") was a political force opposing the Staatsgezinde (pro-Republic) party. Orangists supported the princes of Oranges as Stadtholders (a position held by members of the House of Orange) and military commanders of the Republic, as a check on the regents' power.[1]:12 The Orangist party drew its members largely from the common people, soldiers, the nobility and orthodox preachers, though its support fluctuated heavily over the course of the Republic's history.[1]:13


Orangism can be seen as a continuation of the political opposition between the remonstrants and counter-remonstrants during the Twelve Years' Truce. The Remonstrants were tolerant and republican, with a liberal view on biblical interpretation, no belief in predestination and were led by men like Johan van Oldenbarnevelt. Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange relied on the counter-remonstrants to oppose van Oldenbarnevelt and support the prince's claim to the Dutch throne or stadthoudership, and things got so bad that civil war threatened.

Orangists such as the Vice-Admiral Johan Evertsen backed the election of William III, Prince of Orange, the posthumously-born son of William II, Prince of Orange, to the office of stadtholder of the Netherlands. The office had been vacant since the death of William II in 1650. The pro-Republic party was marked by caution (especially in all matters that could harm trade), led by raadspensionaris Johan de Witt and had supporters among the ruling class and the regenten. It was de Witt who, in the 1654 peace with England and its leader Oliver Cromwell, included the secret Act of Seclusion banning the stadtholder from leadership of the Republic. De Witt then put pressure on all seven of the Republic's provinces to uphold this ban. The pro-prince party was led by the stadholder himself and by men such as Cornelis Tromp. It played an important part in the expulsion of the de Witt brothers, which culminated in 1672 with William III's election as stadtholder on 28 June and with an organised lynch-mob at the Binnenhof on the Hague on 20 August.

In the second half of the 18th century the anti-Orangist party became known as the Patriots. These Patriots strongly opposed both the Prince of Orange, and the British connection. Many of their numbers were drawn from those with commercial and maritime interests who saw Britain as a natural rival of the Dutch, and generally supported the French. At various times the Princes of Orange tried to counter this by moving closer or further away from the British alliance.


Following the French invasion of the Dutch Republic and the Fall of Amsterdam in 1795, William V, Prince of Orange fled to Britain with many supporters, troops and ships - where he and his successor maintained a Government in Exile until their return in 1813. In his name the British Royal Navy and small contingents of the Dutch Navy conquered much of the Dutch Empire to keep it out of the hands of the French and their allies the Batavian Republic.

Political theory

The stadtholderate was never a well-defined concept in the constitution of the Dutch Republic, instead being a patchwork of responsibilities. Likewise, Orangism never became a consistent political theory.[2]:120 In particular, the Orangists never formulated a desire for absolute sovereignty in the hands of the princes, even though they "lean[ed] heavily on the concept of monarchy", since this would have been problematic in the Republic that wrested its independence from the kings of Spain under William of Orange.[1]:12 Instead, they stated their views in terms of republican liberty, sharing the idiom of their States Party opponents.[3]:47

Attempts to introduce elements of John Locke's natural law and Montesquieu's separation of powers (by Elie Luzac) failed when these same theories were taken over by the opposing Patriot faction in the 1780s.[2]:120

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Reinders, Michel (2013). Printed Pandemonium: Popular Print and Politics in the Netherlands 1650–72. Brill.
  2. 1 2 Velema, Wyger R. E. (2007). Republicans: Essays on Eighteenth-century Dutch Political Thought. Brill.
  3. Weststeijn, Arthur (2011). Commercial Republicanism in the Dutch Golden Age: The Political Thought of Johan & Pieter de la Court. Brill.

Further reading

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