Who's Who

The Foundation of the Dutch Republic

William of Orange owes his current stature and reputation to the leading role he played in the Revolt of the Netherlands, one of the most successful revolutions in history. Whereas almost all previous uprisings had either been suppressed or failed to serve the cause of political freedom, the Revolt of the Netherlands led to the foundation of an independent, prosperous republic where, in sharp contrast to the political development in other European countries of the time, representative assemblies exercised sovereign power. This remarkable outcome was partly the result of Orange's outstanding gifts of leadership, not the least of which was his great talent in negotiating with parliamentary bodies.

The policies which Orange pursued towards the States – as representative assemblies were called in the Low Countries – were less determined by firmly held political convictions than by tactical considerations. Orange was an opportunist in the sense that, in his bitter struggle against the powerful King of Spain, he was inclined to use almost any means which might serve his purpose. And as a pre-eminently practical statesman, he frequently adjusted his attitude toward the States according to changes in the political situation.

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