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Representative Government in the Dutch Provinces

The Controversy over the Stadtholderate (1705–1707) and Simon van Slingelandt

Bert Drejer

Abstract

This article reconsiders the way political representation was understood in the early modern Netherlands by focusing on the contemporary contribution of Simon van Slingelandt. His views of the representative nature of the government of the Dutch Republic were deeply polemical when he developed them, but went on to have a profound influence on the later literature and are notably sustained in modern histories of the subject. The best way to nuance the view of political representation our historiography has inherited from Van Slingelandt is by returning to the earlier views he set out to discredit. By examining both views, I thus hope to shed some new light on the representative nature of early modern Dutch government.