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John de Witt: Statesman of the "True Freedom"
by:Herbert H. Rowen
If the combination of superb political skills and a powerful intelligence were enough to make a 'philosopher-king' such as Plato dreamed of, the Dutch 'Grand Pensionary' John de Witt (1625-72) would fit the prescription as well as any statesman in history. Manoeuvring among the powers of Europe in the period of France's growing ascendancy, and facing the...
If the combination of superb political skills and a powerful intelligence were enough to make a 'philosopher-king' such as Plato dreamed of, the Dutch 'Grand Pensionary' John de Witt (1625-72) would fit the prescription as well as any statesman in history. Manoeuvring among the powers of Europe in the period of France's growing ascendancy, and facing the bitter commercial and political rivalry of the English, he managed to preserve the eminent position the United Provinces had reached when Spain recognized their independence at Munster in 1648. Not until the kings of France and England combined against the Republic in 1672 did De Witt's political system, called the 'True Freedom' and consisting of the maximum autonomy of the provinces and the exclusion of Prince William III of Orange from high office, collapse during the French invasion, an event accompanied by the horrific assassination of De Witt and his brother Cornelius.
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