Michiel Jansz. van Miereveldt, Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, 1623

Elizabeth Stuart (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was, as the wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine, Electress Palatine and briefly Queen of Bohemia. Due to her husband’s short reign in Bohemia, Elizabeth is often referred to as the Winter Queen. She was the eldest daughter of King James VI and I, King of Scotland, England and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark.

With the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714, her descendants, the Hanoverian rulers, succeeded to the British throne.

Workshop of Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, Portrait of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619).

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (Dutch pronunciation: [joɑŋ vɑŋ oldə(n)bɑrnəvəlt] ), Lord of Berkel en Rodenrijs (1600), Gunterstein (1611) and Bakkum (1613) (September 14, 1547 – May 13, 1619) was a Dutch statesman who played an important role in the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain.

Van Oldenbarnevelt was born in Amersfoort. He studied law at Leuven, Bourges, Heidelberg and Padua, and traveled in France and Italy before settling in The Hague. He was a Calvinist, he supported William the Silent in his revolt against Spain, and fought in William’s army.

He served as a volunteer for the relief of Haarlem (1573) and again at Leiden (1574). Oldenbarnevelt was married in 1575 to Maria van Utrecht. In 1576 he obtained the important post of pensionary of Rotterdam, an office which carried with it official membership of the States of Holland. In this capacity his industry, singular grasp of affairs, and persuasive powers of speech speedily gained for him a position of influence. He was active in promoting the Union of Utrecht (1579) and the offer of the countship of Holland and Zeeland by William (prevented by Williams death in 1584). He was a fierce opponent of the policies of the Earl of Leicester, the governor‐general at the time, and instead favoured Maurice of Nassau, a son of William. Leicester left in 1587, leaving the military power in the Netherlands to Maurice. During the governorship of Leicester, Van Oldenbarnevelt was the leader of the strenuous opposition offered by the States of Holland to the centralizing policy of the governor.

On March 16, 1586,[1] van Oldenbarnevelt, in succession to Paulus Buys, became Land’s Advocate of Holland for the States of Holland, an office he held for 32 years. This great office, given to a man of commanding ability and industry, offered unbounded influence in a multi-headed republic without any central executive authority. Though nominally the servant of the States of Holland, Oldenbarnevelt made himself the political personification of the province which bore more than half the entire charge of the union. As mouthpiece of the States-General, he practically dominated the assembly. In a brief period, he became entrusted with such large and far-reaching authority in all details of administration, that he became the virtual Prime minister of the Dutch republic.

On 23 August 1618, by order of the States-General, Oldenbarnevelt and his chief supporters, Hugo Grotius, Gilles van Ledenberg, Rombout Hogerbeets and Jacob Dircksz de Graeff, were arrested or lost their political positions in government.

Oldenbarnevelt was, with his friends, kept in strict confinement until November of that year, and then brought for examination before a commission appointed by the States-General. He appeared more than 60 times before the commissioners and the whole course of his official life was severely examined. During the period of inquest, he was neither allowed to consult papers nor put his defense in writing.

On 20 February 1619, Oldenbarnevelt was arraigned before a special court of twenty-four members, only half of whom were Hollanders, and nearly all of whom were personal enemies. This ad hoc judicial commission was necessary, because, unlike in the individual provinces, the federal government did not have a judicial branch. Normally the accused would be brought before the Hof van Holland or the Hoge Raad van Holland en Zeeland, the highest courts in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland; however, in this case, the alleged crime was against the Generaliteit, or federal government, and required adjudication by the States-General, acting act as highest court in the land. As was customary in similar cases (for instance, the later trial of the judges in the case of the Amboyna massacre), the trial was delegated to a commission. Of course, the accused contested the competence of the court, as they contested the residual sovereignty of the States-General, but their protest was disregarded.

It was in fact a kangaroo court [“a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted”.], and the stacked bench of judges on Sunday, 12 May 1619, pronounced a death sentence on Oldenbarnevelt. On the following day, the old statesman, at the age of seventy-one, was beheaded in the Binnenhof, in The Hague. Oldenbarnevelt’s last words to the executioner were purportedly: “Make it short, make it short.”

Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt, Portrait of Jacob Cats (1577-1660), 1634

Jacob Cats (10 November 1577, Brouwershaven (Zeeland) - 12 September 1660, the Hague) was a Dutch poet, humorist, jurist and politician. He is most famous for his emblem books.

Having lost his mother at an early age, and being adopted with his three brothers by an uncle, Cats was sent to school at Zierikzee. He then studied law at Leiden and at Orléans, and, returning to Holland, he settled at the Hague, where he began to practise as an advocate. His pleading in defence of a person accused of witchcraft brought him many clients and some reputation. He had a serious love affair about this time, which was broken off on the very eve of marriage by his catching a tertian fever which defied all attempts at cure for some two years. For medical advice and change of air Cats went to England, where he consulted the highest authorities in vain. He returned to Zeeland to die, but was cured mysteriously with the powder of a travelling doctor (later sources claim he was a quack). He married in 1602 a lady of some property, Elizabeth van Valkenburg, and thenceforward lived at Grijpskerke in Zeeland, where he devoted himself to farming and poetry.

In 1621, on the expiration of the twelve year truce with Spain, the breaking of the dykes drove him from his farm. He was made pensionary (stipendiary magistrate) of Middelburg; and two years afterwards of Dordrecht. In 1627 Cats came to England on a mission to Charles I, who made him a knight. In 1636 he was made Grand Pensionary of Holland, and in 1648 keeper of the great seal; in 1651 he resigned his offices, but in 1657 he was sent a second time to England on what proved to be an unsuccessful mission to Oliver Cromwell.

Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt, Portrait of Frederick V, Elector Palatine,1628-32

Frederick V (German: Friedrich V.) (16 August 1596 – 29 November 1632) was Elector Palatine (1610–23), and, as Frederick I (Czech: Fridrich Falcký), King of Bohemia (1619–20); for his short reign he is often nicknamed the Winter King (Czech: Zimní král; German: Winterkönig).

Frederick was born at the jagdschloss Deinschwang (a hunting lodge) near Amberg in the Upper Palatinate. He was the son of Frederick IV and of Louise Juliana of Nassau, the daughter of William the Silent and Charlotte de Bourbon-Monpensier. An intellectual, a mystic, and a Calvinist, he succeeded his father as Prince-Elector of the Rhenish Palatinate in 1610. He was responsible for the construction of the famous Hortus Palatinus gardens in Heidelberg.

In 1618 the largely Protestant estates of Bohemia rebelled against their Catholic King Ferdinand, triggering the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War. Frederick accepted the offer and was crowned on 4 November 1619. The estates chose Frederick since he was the leader of the Protestant Union, a military alliance founded by his father, and hoped for the support of Frederick’s father-in-law, James VI of Scotland and I of England. However, James opposed the takeover of Bohemia from the Habsburgs and Frederick’s allies in the Protestant Union failed to support him militarily by signing the Treaty of Ulm (1620). His brief reign as King of Bohemia ended with his defeat at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620 – a year and four days after his coronation.

After this battle, the Imperial forces invaded Frederick’s Palatinate lands and he had to flee to Holland in 1622. An Imperial edict formally deprived him of the Palatinate in 1623. He lived the rest of his life in exile with his wife and family, mostly at the Hague, and died in Mainz in 1632.

His eldest surviving son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine returned to power in 1648 with the end of the war. His daughter Princess Sophia was eventually named heiress presumptive to the British throne, and was the founder of the Hanoverian line of kings.

Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt, Portrait of the Dutch lawyer and statesman Hugo de Groot, also known as Hugo Grotius, 1631

Hugo Grotius (10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645), also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. He was also a philosopher, theologian, Christian apologist, playwright, and poet.

Grotius’s influence on international law is paramount, and is acknowledged by, for instance, the American Society of International Law, which since 1999 holds an annual series of Grotius Lectures. Additionally, his contributions to Arminian theology provided the seeds for later Arminian-based movements, such as Methodism and Pentecostalism and he is acknowledged as a significant figure in the Arminianism-Calvinism debate.

In The Free Sea (Mare Liberum, published 1609) Grotius formulated the new principle that the sea was international territory and all nations were free to use it for seafaring trade. Grotius, by claiming ‘free seas’ (Freedom of the seas), provided suitable ideological justification for the Dutch breaking up of various trade monopolies through its formidable naval power (and then establishing its own monopoly).

England, competing fiercely with the Dutch for domination of world trade, opposed this idea and claimed That the Dominion of the British Sea, or That Which Incompasseth the Isle of Great Britain, is, and Ever Hath Been, a Part or Appendant of the Empire of that Island. William Welwod, a Scottish jurist who was the first to formulate the laws of the sea in the English language, argued against Grotius’ Mare Liberum in An Abridgement of All Sea-Lawes (1613), eliciting a response from Grotius around 1615 under the title Defensio capitis quinti Maris Liberi oppugnati a Gulielmo Welwodo (“Defense of chapter five of the ‘Free Oceans,’ opposed by William Welwod”). In Mare clausum (1635) John Selden endeavoured to prove that the sea was in practice virtually as capable of appropriation as terrestrial territory.

The dispute would eventually have important economic implications. The Dutch Republic supported the idea of free trade (even though it imposed a special trade monopoly on nutmeg and cloves in the Moluccas). England adopted the Act of Navigation (1651), forbidding any goods from entering England except on English ships. The Act subsequently led to the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654).