CHAPTER XIII. THE STADHOLDERATE OF WILLIAM II.
The "States party" in Holland had for their leaders the aged Adrian Pauw, who had for so many years been the moving spirit of the opposition in powerful Amsterdam to Frederick Henry's authority, and Jacob de Witt, the imprisoned ex-burgomaster of Dordrecht. The "Orange party" was for the moment practically impotent. Stunned by the death of their youthful chief, they were hopelessly weakened and disorganised by the dissensions and rivalries which surrounded the cradle of the infant Prince of Orange. The princess royal quarrelled with her mother-in-law, Amalia von Solms, over the guardianship of the child. Mary asserted her right to be sole guardian; the dowager-princess wished to have her son-in-law, the Elector of Brandenburg, associated with her as co-guardian. After much bickering the question was at last referred to the Council of State, who appointed the princess royal, the dowager-princess and the elector jointly to the office. This decision however was far from effecting a reconciliation between the mother and the grandmother. Mary did not spare the Princess Amalia the humiliation of knowing that she regarded her as inferior in rank and social standing to the eldest daughter of a King of England. There was rivalry also between the male relatives William Frederick, Stadholder of Friesland, and Joan Maurice, the "Brazilian," both of them being ambitious of filling the post of captain-general, either in succession to the dead prince, or as lieutenant in the name of his son. In these circumstances a large number of the more moderate Orangists were ready to assist the "States party" in preventing any breach of the peace and securing that the government of the republic should be carried on, if not in the manner they would have wished, at least on stable and sound lines, so far as possible in accordance with precedent.
The Great Assembly met on January 11,1651, in the Count's Hall in the Binnenhof at the Hague. The sittings lasted until September, for there were many important matters to be settled on which the representatives of the seven provinces were far from being in entire agreement. The chief controversies centred around the interpretation of the Utrecht Act of Union, the Dordrecht principles, and military affairs. The last-named proved the most thorny. The general result was decentralisation, and the strengthening of the Provincial Estates at the expense of the States-General. It was agreed that the established religion should be that formulated at Dordrecht, that the sects should be kept in order, and the placards against Roman Catholicism enforced. In accordance with the proposal of Holland there was to be no captain-or admiral-general. Brederode, with the rank of field-marshal, was placed at the head of the army. The Provincial Estates were entrusted with considerable powers over the troops in their pay. The effect of this, and of the decision of five provinces to dispense with a stadholder and to transfer his power and prerogatives to the Estates, was virtually the establishment in permanent authority of a number of close municipal corporations. It meant the supersession alike of monarchy and popular government, both of which were to a certain extent represented by the authority vested in, and the influence exerted by, the stadholder princes of Orange, in favour of a narrow oligarchic rule. Moreover, in this confederation of seven semi-sovereign provinces, Holland, which contributed to the strength, the finances and the commerce of the Union more than all the other provinces added together, obtained now, in the absence of an "eminent head," that position of predominance, during the stadholderless period which now follows, for which its statesmen had so long striven. When the amiable Jacob Cats, the Council-Pensionary of Holland, closed the Great Assembly in a flowery speech describing the great work that it had accomplished, a new chapter in the history of the republic may be said to have begun.
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