CHAPTER X. FROM THE END OF THE TWELVE YEARS' TRUCE TO THE PEACE OF MUENSTER (1621-48). THE STADHOLDERATE OF FREDERICK HENRY OF ORANGE
The Prince of Orange, who had been long a martyr to the gout, became in the autumn of 1646 hopelessly ill. He lingered on in continual suffering for some months and died on March 14, 1647. Shortly before his death he had the satisfaction of witnessing the marriage of his daughter Louise Henrietta to Frederick William of Brandenburg, afterwards known as the Great Elector. He was not, however, destined to see peace actually concluded, though he ardently desired to do so. Frederick Henry could, however, at any rate feel that his life-work had been thoroughly and successfully accomplished. The services he rendered to his country during his stadholderate of twenty-two years can scarcely be over-estimated. It is a period of extraordinary prosperity and distinction, which well deserves the title given to it by Dutch historians - "the golden age of Frederick Henry." The body of the stadholder was laid, amidst universal lamentation and with almost regal pomp, besides those of his father and brother in the Nieuwe Kerk at Delft.
The removal of a personality of such authority and influence at this critical time was a dire misfortune, for there were many cross-currents of policy in the different provinces and of divergence of interests between the seafaring and merchant classes and other sections of the population. Finally the skill and perseverance of the two leading Dutch plenipotentiaries, Pauw and Van Knuyt, and of the Spanish envoys, Penaranda and Brun, brought the negotiations to a successful issue. The assent of all the provinces was necessary, and for a time Utrecht and Zeeland were obstinately refractory, but at length their opposition was overcome; and on January 30,1648, the treaty of Muenster was duly signed. Great rejoicings throughout the land celebrated the end of the War of Independence, which had lasted for eighty years. Thus, in spite of the solemn engagement made with France, a separate peace was concluded with Spain and in the interests of the United Provinces. Their course of action was beyond doubt politically wise and defensible, but, as might be expected, it left behind it a feeling of soreness, for the French naturally regarded it as a breach of faith. The treaty of Muenster consisted of 79 articles, the most important of which were: the King of Spain recognised the United Provinces as free and independent lands; the States-General kept all their conquests in Brabant, Limburg and Flanders, the so-called Generality lands; also their conquests in Brazil and the East Indies made at the expense of Portugal; freedom of trading both in the East and West Indies was conceded; the Scheldt was declared closed, thus shutting out Antwerp from access to the sea; to the House of Orange all its confiscated property was restored; and lastly a treaty of trade and navigation with Spain was negotiated. On all points the Dutch obtained all and more than all they could have hoped for.
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