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  • Creaturen van de Macht: Patronage bij Willen Frederik van Nassau (1613-1664)
  • Charlie R. Steen
Geert H. Janssen . Creaturen van de Macht: Patronage bij Willen Frederik van Nassau (1613–1664). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005. 304 pp. index. illus. tbls. bibl. €29.50. ISBN: 90-5356-787-9.

Janssen's work is a carefully crafted study of the full range of patronage and clientage in the public sphere filled by William Frederick, a member of the House of Nassau in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. The study is associated by the author with those of Kettering, Neuchel, Harding, Mousnier, Price, and [End Page 919] Israel, who consider the complex relationships within patronage that perpetuate the control of the old elites while still contributing to the development of modern states. Janssen acknowledges a scholarly debt to their studies throughout his own, but also includes the methods of cultural anthropology to give full scope to his own investigation. Indeed, he emphasizes many different sources which provided unique insight and suggested various strategies to follow in his investigation. The introduction discusses these influences and explains his method. However, it is also crowded with questions which arise from the subject, which is an amalgam of the influences of the single most powerful family in the Netherlands within the context of the amazing complexity of political, social, and religious relationships within the Dutch Republic. William Frederick, after a brisk and unpleasant competition for the offices with Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange and head of the family, became stadholder of Frisia, Groeningen, and Drenthe. Each province had powerful traditions spelled out in instructions which regulated his powers. To compensate for irregular character of public life, Janssen concentrates on the personal relationships and objectives of patronage and clientage rather than trying to engage in a systematic structural analysis. Personal and public patronage mingled and the creation of a network of loyalties and dependencies affected both the aristocracy and the republic, the Dutch version of competition between castle and state. However, the House of Orange had its own court, which provided a center of power as well, making all relationships even more complex. William Frederick played many roles as stadholder, particularly at the Frisian center at Leeuwarden, and also as head of his own aristocratic court at Turnhout. However, he also resided once a year in The Hague, where he participated in the Orange court as client rather than patron, which, given the character of public life, actually enhanced his own powers at home. This study is divided into three sections that present all of these relationships clearly and thoroughly. The first part explores his personal and public development in the years after 1640, when he assumed the three stadholder positions. The second investigates his position at the Orange court, first during the awkward years under Frederick Henry and then in the cordial, positive times under William II. The third part discusses changes brought on by the death of William II, who had engaged in a major struggle with Amsterdam and the States General.

The career of William Frederick provides a perfect basis for a study of relationships within the entire political and social hierarchy, and, in Janssen's hands, it becomes a very personal story, drawing heavily on the stadholder's diary and correspondence. The use of these documents is exceptional and William Frederick comes to life through quotations. However, there is also a much broader perspective to this work, for Janssen balances the personal account with references to all the major historians who are engaged in studies of patronage and clientage, as well as the most significant new studies of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century. Factual material blends with theoretical considerations freely in this wonderfully-written work. General studies of patronage, particularly the work of Sharon Kettering, provide firm general points of reference, but the most recent volumes of Price and Israel on ideological relationships within the Dutch Republic [End Page 920] are equally vital to his presentation. Individual nuances of belief and behavior appear against the background of both Dutch and Western European experience.

There are many intriguing parts to this study, including consideration of the use of language, which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0236
Print ISSN
0034-4338
Pages
pp. 919-921
Launched on MUSE
2008-03-27
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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