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Utrecht

union, dutch, republic and barneveldt

UTRECHT, Union of. In the evolution of the political life of the Low Countries, com prising the region which ultimately became the kingdoms of Belgium and the Netherlands, the most notable events were the establishment of the duchy of Burgundy (13134-1482) ; the act of Charles V in detaching the Seventeen Prov inces from the German Empire (1543) ; the Pacification of Ghent (1576); the Union of Brussels (1577); and the confederation of the seven northern provinces by the Union of Utrecht, under John of Nassau. In the "Old Cradle of Liberty," in 1579, the delegates met and formed a compact for mutual defense in 26 sections. This document has ever been re garded as the foundation of the Dutch Republic (1579-1814), of which the kingdom, with more freedom than in the old regime, is but a de velopment and disguise. While not a consti tution, in the strict modern sense, this docu ment served as such in the Dutch Republic of the United Netherlands for 215 years and was ever appealed to as the Xgrondwet" or funda mental law of all the component members of the federation. The common people and the Calvinists, when religion and politics were in extricably intertwinedófor the Reformed Church was older than the State, or Republic, which had grown out of religionóconsidered that this Act of Union had made the people of the seven northern, or Protestant provinces, a nation (natie) and not merely impotent mem bers of a political league, from which one of the signatories, even the Greatest Holland, could secede. They, therefore, opposed the

ideas of state sovereignty, as held by Barneveldt and the Arminian party; and on this ground, even more perhaps than on questions of reli gious dogma, the politics of the republic, from 1581, when the Dutch abjured Philip II, and issued their declaration of independence, were colored and dictated. The National Synod was held and the Union and national ideas pre vailed, though the era was disfigured by pro cedures common to the age. The issue raised between the stadtholder Maurice and the Ad vocate of Holland, John of Barneveldt, so un fairly stated by Motley, has been expounded voluminously by Dutch authors and is to this day the root and ground of political parties in the Netherlands. Consult Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic' (1855) ; Salmon, (The Union of Utrecht' (1894) ; and the exhaustive serials of Dosker, (Barneveldt : Martyr or Traitor?' (1898) in the Presbyterian and Re formed Review.