Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Through its military and political service to the United Provinces of the Netherlands during the course of the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain, the house of Orange came to occupy a special place in Dutch culture. The image of the house of Orange in Dutch political culture followed a trajectory of cultural assimilation from the sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century, whereby Orange's continued service linked it inextricably to certain aspects of Dutch culture. Having granted the house of Orange legitimacy as political leaders, the Dutch people went about incorporating Orange into the heart of their cultural spirit. In May 1650, William II, prince of Orange, tried to bully the province of Holland into a more favorable political settlement by visiting its principal cities at the head of the army. The first stadholderless era commenced upon the death of William II in November 1650, with the major political crisis not yet settled. The house of Orange in these years depended on the cultural loyalty of Orangists for support. These new circumstances resulted in a displacement of Orangist loyalty from the person of the stadholder-prince of Orange to the house itself, and a fidelity to the idea that the prince of Orange belonged in the offices of stadholder, captain- and admiral-general. Orangists had strong hopes that the young William III would one day come to power. The sources examined here reveal three major themes in the expressions of Orangism during the first stadholderless era. Printmakers relied on the familiarity of their audience with nature to depict William III as a young sprout who would one day grow into the strong Tree of Orange. In addition to this arboreal metaphor, images of nursing mothers in conjunction with the house of Orange reinforced the notion that William III benefited from proper nurturing and education. Finally, an analysis of the use of classical imagery in Orangist materials suggests conclusions about the social and religious composition of the audience for popular Orangism.



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Committee Chair

Christine J. Kooi



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