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Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory


On November 5, 1688, William of Orange, Protestant ruler of the Dutch Republic, landed at Torbay in Devon with a force of twenty thousand men. Five months later, William and his wife, Mary, were jointly crowned king and queen after forcing James II to abdicate. Yet why has history recorded this bloodless coup as an internal Glorious Revolution rather than what it truly was: a full-scale invasion and conquest by a foreign nation?

The remarkable story of the relationship between ...

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Going Dutch

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On November 5, 1688, William of Orange, Protestant ruler of the Dutch Republic, landed at Torbay in Devon with a force of twenty thousand men. Five months later, William and his wife, Mary, were jointly crowned king and queen after forcing James II to abdicate. Yet why has history recorded this bloodless coup as an internal Glorious Revolution rather than what it truly was: a full-scale invasion and conquest by a foreign nation?

The remarkable story of the relationship between two of Europe's most important colonial powers at the dawn of the modern age, Lisa Jardine's Going Dutch demonstrates through compelling new research in political and social history how Dutch tolerance, resourcefulness, and commercial acumen had effectively conquered Britain long before William and his English wife arrived in London.

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
“A thoroughly researched and provocative revisionist study.”
Associated Press Staff
“Going Dutch is elegant and thought-provoking. . . . Jardine evokes a dialogue of civilizations.”
Kathryn Shevelow
…the revelatory backstory of the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688-89…[Jardine] fills her pages with a distinguished cast of characters: The artists Rubens, van Dyck and Pieter Lely received commissions from the English court; Wren, Hooke and Anton van Leeuwenhoek together laid the foundation of modern science. Jardine writes clearly and colloquially for the non-academic reader. Her chapters on gardens and painting are particularly engaging
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

England's almost bloodless "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, in which the Dutch king William of Orange overthrew James II, began as a hostile takeover but rapidly turned into a friendly merger, according to British historian Jardine (The Awful End of Prince William the Silent). She explores the fascinating Anglo-Dutch relationship to answer how and why two sworn foes became friends so seamlessly. Jardine focuses mainly on the "subterranean" intellectual, cultural and scientific intersections between the two countries and finds that contacts were "continuous and mutually advantageous" for decades before William's invasion. Cross-border fertilization resulted in two of the greatest painters of the age-Peter Paul Rubens and Anton van Dyck-working for English patrons while esteemed members of the Royal Society (such as Isaac Newton) corresponded with their Netherlandish counterparts (such as Christian Huygens). By looking so closely at elite opinion, however, Jardine too lightly dismisses the virility of "petty nationalism" lower down the scale and too easily glosses over the very real military tensions between the two powers. Nevertheless, this is a highly original work that will appeal to fans of Simon Schama's groundbreaking The Embarrassment of Riches.Color and b&w illus. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Jardine's latest isn't as much about the English plundering of the Dutch as it is about both countries' development of common tastes and interests over the course of the tumultuous 17th century. Jardine (Centenary Professor of Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary, Univ. of London; The Awful End of Prince William the Silent) first deals with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when Dutch William of Orange ousted James II of England, forcing him into permanent exile and becoming King William III of England (of William and Mary). The rest of this engaging book-and very good history it is-examines the web of connections that brought together and reinforced a common Anglo-Dutch high culture-in the arts, music, architecture, landscaping and gardening, and science-in countries united by religion but still warring over empire. In the rich cultural dialog that preceded the Glorious Revolution, the key Dutch figure for more than 50 years was Constantijn Huygens, adviser to the stadtholders, diplomat and distinguished patron of the arts. When he died in 1687, his son Constantijn Jr. succeeded him as William III's adviser. Another of his sons, Christiaan, was a distinguished scientist. Jardine understands and appreciates her sources, and she writes exceptionally lively history. A pleasure to read, this book is enthusiastically recommended for large public collections and all academic libraries.
—David Keymer

Kirkus Reviews
An exploration of the thriving 17th-century cultural exchange between Holland and England. England doesn't bear too many traces of its once-close relationship with the Dutch, writes Jardine (Renaissance Studies/Queen Mary, Univ. of London; The Awful End of Prince William the Silent, 2007, etc.), who attempts to set the record straight with this examination of Anglo-Dutch relations. She begins by outlining the audacious Dutch invasion of 1688, sanitized by history as a "Glorious Revolution" whose (British) protagonists "invited" William of Orange to rule England with his wife Mary, daughter of England's unpopular James II. Jardine writes in awestruck tones of William's impeccable organization in steam-rollering the English and notes how widely accepted he was by people whose country was occupied by his troops. Dutch culture had been seeping into English society for quite some time, she points out: There were links between the Dutch and English royal families; both countries were Protestant; scientists and artists from both cultures had close ties. At the center of her retelling stands Constantijn Huygens, an advisor to the House of Orange whose exquisite taste in art and culture helped him act as a sort of 17th-century PR man for the Dutch. Also crucial is the author's investigation of the posthumous rewriting of history that occurred in the aftermath of William's invasion. Jardine meticulously studies the exchange of ideas between England and Holland, displaying an impressive ability to look at the bigger picture and tie together seemingly disparate strands of culture: art, commerce, even gardening. In her depiction, England had already borrowed huge swaths of Dutch culture, paving theway for William's rule. Illustrations and photographs that reveal the prevailing Dutch aesthetic of the time add weight to the author's words, and she leaves no stone unturned as she documents just how many significant figures from Holland held sway over English culture. Absorbing, enjoyable reading.
Associated Press
“Going Dutch is elegant and thought-provoking. . . . Jardine evokes a dialogue of civilizations.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060774097
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 930,942
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Jardine, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, is the director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, the centenary professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She lives with her husband and three children in London.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Map: The United Provinces, or Dutch Republic

1 England invaded by the Dutch: The Conquest that Never Was 1

2 From Invasion to Glorious Revolution: Editing Out the Dutch 27

3 Royal and Almost-Royal Families: 'How England Came to be Ruled by an Orange' 53

4 Designing Dutch Princely Rule: The Cultural Diplomacy of 'Mr Huggins' 81

5 Auction, Exchange, Traffic and Trickle-Down: Dutch Influence on English Art 113

6 Double Portraits: Mixed and Companionate Marriages 149

7 Consorts of Viols, Theorbos and Anglo-Dutch Voices 175

8 Masters of All They Survey: Anglo-Dutch Passion for Gardens and Gardening 205

9 Paradise on Earth: Garnering Riches and Bringing Them Home 233

10 Anglo-Dutch Exchange and the New Science: A Chapter of Accidents 263

11 Science Under the Microscope: More Anglo-Dutch Misunderstandings 291

12 Anglo-Dutch Influence Abroad: Competition, Market Forces and Money Markets on a Global Scale 319

Conclusion: Going Dutch 349

Huygens Family Tree 359

Stuart Family Tree 360

House of Orange Family Tree 361

Notes 363

Bibliography of Secondary Sources 381

Index 393

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First Chapter

Going Dutch
How England Plundered Holland's Glory

Chapter One

England Invaded by the Dutch: The Conquest that Never Was

The Fame of the Intended Invasion from Holland, was spread all over the Nation, & most Men were preparing for the Generall Insurrection which ensu'd, when I was obliged to go to London to settle my accounts, in October 1688, & had not continu'd there above 3 weeks, before the News came of the Dutch Fleet's being sail'd to the Westward, & seen off the Isle of Wight.1

The assault on the supposedly impregnable sovereign territory came out of the blue—the slickest feat of naval planning and execution ever to have been witnessed in Europe.

On 1 November 1688 (new style), Prince William of Orange, elected ruler or Stadholder of the Dutch Republic, and husband of the English King James II's eldest daughter, Mary Stuart, embarked upon a seaborne invasion of the British Isles. His invasion force consisted of an astounding five hundred ships, an army of more than twenty thousand highly trained professional troops, and a further twenty thousand mariners and support staff. As a naval and military undertaking, the sheer scale, temerity and bold ambition of the venture captured the European imagination for years afterwards. The exact numbers of the invading forces were a matter of dispute and deliberate exaggeration (and have remained so ever since), but there was no uncertainty at all about William of Orange's intentions—this was a redoubtable force, and it was headed for the English coast.

Rumours of dramatic action against the increasingly absolutistbehaviour of James II had been circulating for months. As early as May, John Evelyn recorded anxiously in his diary:

The Hollanders did now al'arme his Majestie with their fleete, so well prepar'd & out before we were in any readinesse, or had any considerable number to have encountered them had there been occasion, to the great reproch of the nation.2

Reliable intelligence on Dutch naval and troop movements was unusually hard to come by. Some snippets of information, though, had leaked out. There was talk that troops were on the move on the Dutch borders. There were anxious whispers that France was making preparations to come to the assistance of the Catholic English regime (what Evelyn refers to as 'the Popery of the King' was increasingly an issue). Right up to the moment when William's fleet left the shelter of the Dutch coastline and headed out across open water, northern Europe was awash with unsubstantiated rumour and hearsay, anecdote and false alarm. Once the assault was under way, there was talk of little else.

The joint naval and military operation was on an unprecedented scale. Its meticulous organisation astonished political observers. There had initially been some suggestion that the build-up of troops in the Low Countries was in preparation for a land engagement with the French. It was then rumoured that the Dutch might send these forces to help prevent an imminent French invasion of the Palatinate. But by the time the size of the operation became clear in the middle of October there could be no doubt as to its destination or its purpose. The Dutch, reported the stunned English ambassador at The Hague, intended 'an absolute conquest' of England.3

'Never was so great a design executed in so short a time. All things as soon as they were ordered were got to be so quickly ready that we were amazed at the dispatch,' wrote one of those involved in the secret plan-ning,4 while the English ambassador at The Hague warned that 'such a preparation was never heard of in these parts of the world'.5 Not only the foreign diplomats at The Hague but all Europe was astounded by the unusual speed and efficiency with which the Dutch state—which historians generally like to describe as one of the less well-organised in seventeenth-century Europe—assembled so enormously complicated an expedition.6

William, it slowly emerged, had started to build up his army in the first half of 1688, without consulting the Dutch government—the States General. His closest and most trusted favourites, Hans Willem Bentinck and Everard van Weede van Dijkveld, had shuttled clandestinely around Europe for months securing backing from those known to be sympathetic to the Protestant cause, and negotiating supporting troops and financial loans. Between June and October they surreptitiously assembled a massive force of well-trained, well-paid and experienced soldiers drawn from right across Protestant Europe. They also made arrangements for troops from neighbouring territories to move into place to fill the gap left on the European mainland, to defend the Dutch borders against possible French attack once William had switched his best troops to the English campaign.7

The uncertainty and swirling rumours seem to have paralysed the English administration. By mid-September the diarist John Evelyn, on a visit to James II's court in London, 'found [it] in the uttmost consternation upon report of the Pr: of Oranges landing, which put White-hall into so panic a feare, that I could hardly believe it possible to find such a change'.8 He also reported 'the whole Nation disaffected, & in apprehensions'. The King himself was suffering from recurrent nosebleeds (a sign of raised blood pressure, perhaps). Strategically, over a period of months, the combination of extreme secrecy, rumour and false alarm sapped English morale.

The Dutch government was not consulted officially until well into September (and the French ambassador got wind of this through his 'intelligencers'—undercover agents—only days later). On 8 October William had let it be known in Holland that his invasion—if it took place—was to be both an intervention on behalf of the Dutch state, to prevent James II from forming an anti-Dutch Catholic alliance with France, and a bid to secure his own and his wife's dynastic interests. The States General were finally asked for, and gave, their approval, on the understanding that 'His said Highness has decided to start the said matter upon His Highnesse's and Her Royal Highnesse's own names, and to make use of the States' power only as auxiliary.'9

Going Dutch
How England Plundered Holland's Glory
. Copyright © by Lisa Jardine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    History Uncovered

    Unknown to most Americans the Glorious Revolution of 1688 has to be one of the least known invasions of all time.This book is not military, but concerns the artistic and cultural co-mingling of two European powers of the 1600's,Holland and England leading up to the overthrow of the Stuart monarchy.A fascinating,pivotal,and and mostly unknown period of English history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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