How England Plundered Holland's Glory
By Lisa Jardine
(HarperTorch, Hardcover, 9780060774080, 406pp.)
Publication Date: September 2008
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On November 5, 1688, William of Orange, Protestant ruler of the Dutch Republic, landed at Torbay in Devon with a force of twenty thousand men. The Glorious Revolution that followed forced James II to abdicate, and William and his wife, Mary, were jointly crowned king and queen on April 11, 1689. How was it that this almost bloodless coup took place with such apparent ease yet was not recognized as the full-blooded invasion and conquest it undoubtedly was?
In this wide-ranging book, Lisa Jardine assembles new research in political and social history, together with the histories of art, music, gardening, and science, to show how Dutch tolerance, resourcefulness, and commercial acumen had effectively conquered Britain long before William and his English wife arrived in London. Going Dutch is the remarkable story of the relationship between two of Europe's most important colonial powers at the dawn of the modern age.
Throughout the seventeenth century, Holland and England were engaged in an energetic commercial and cultural exchange that survived three Anglo-Dutch wars. Dutch influence also permanently reshaped England's cultural landscape. Whether through scientific discoveries, the design of royal palaces and gardens, or the introduction of works by the greatest painters of the age—Rubens, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck among them—the England we know today owes an extraordinary amount to its fierce competitor across the "narrow sea."
Going Dutch demonstrates how individuals, such as Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, and successive generations of the remarkable Huygens family, who were usually represented as isolated geniuses working in the enclosed environment of their native country in fact developed their ideas within a context of the easy Anglo-Dutch relations that laid the vital groundwork for the European Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.
Above all, Lisa Jardine tests the traditional view that the rise of England as a world power took place at the expense of the Dutch. She finds that it was a "handing off" of the baton of cultural and intellectual supremacy to a Britain expanding in international power and influence. Going Dutch not only challenges conventional interpretations of England's role in Enlightenment-era Europe but raises questions about the position in which post-empire Britain finds itself today.