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The Orangist Myth, 1650–1672

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Chapter Summary

In November 1650 the young stadholder William II died unexpectedly of smallpox. The House of Orange was faced with an unprecedented situation, the death of a stadholder without a successor of mature years. The stadholderate was the essential 'monarchical' component in a mixed constitution and the authority of the Prince of Orange essential to counterbalance the dominant province of Holland. The crux of the Orangist "myth" was the contention that the Dutch Republic depended for its harmony and prosperity on the presence of a stadholder Prince of Orange to whose ancestors it owed an immense debt of gratitude. The myth could be presented by means of symbols and images which captivated sections of the public who were immune to theoretical discussion.

Keywords: Holland; House of Orange; Orangist myth; stadholder; William II



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