Orange and Stuart 1641-1672

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Phoenix, 2002 - 443 pages
Regarded by many (including Simon Schama) as Pieter Geyl's finest work, this enthralling study describes the struggle between the House of Orange and the Regents of Holland in the mid-seventeenth century. In light of the links with the English House of Stuart, he views the dynastic marriage of William II and Mary as the root of future conflicts. An absorbing tale of intrigue and ambition.

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I'll begin by saying after reading "Orange & Stuart" I can understand why Professor Geyl is considered the greatest Dutch historian of his time. This book demonstrates his superb scholarship and his balanced and ground-breaking judgments of events and individuals.
For the most part, my prior reading on the period covered by this book, 1641 - 1672, has been by British or American historians. It was very interesting and informative to read about the same events from a Dutch perspective. It's impossible to read this history without gaining an increasing respect for Johan de Witt. What demonstrates Professor Geyl's greatness as an historian is that as much as he obviously admires De Witt, he is able to provide an objective view of William III. This is an example: ". . . the divorce of the Orange court and Orangists in general from the national interest . . . the underhand relations of Orangists with the English court -- if we recall all this, we cannot find praise enough for the action of William III when, overriding the young nobles in his retinue and the blind excitement of the crowd, and young though he was, he made common cause with the Dutch state against England. And yet his name would shine even brighter had he not misused his family ties with Charles to destroy regents who had done what they could for the national cause."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in relations between the Dutch Republic and England during the last half of the 17th century.

About the author (2002)

Pieter Geyl was born at Dordrecht in 1887 and educated at the University of Leyden, was the greatest Dutch historian of his time. He was the first occupant of the Chair of Dutch history at the University of London. Pieter Geyl died in 1966.

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