1st Edition

The Anglo-Dutch Favourite The Career of Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland (1649–1709)

By David Onnekink Copyright 2007
    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    322 Pages
    by Routledge

    Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland (1649-1709) was the closest confidant of William III and arguably the most important politician in Williamite Britain. Beginning his career in 1664 as page to William of Orange, his fortunes gained momentum with the Prince's rise to power in The Netherlands and Britain, emerging as William's favourite at court from the 1670s onwards. Taking a broadly chronological approach, the central concern of this book is not simply to provide a biographical account of Portland's life, but to explore wider political themes within a European context. By analysing Portland's role within William's government it shows how royal favourites could still wield considerable influence on European events and help shape royal policy, particularly with regard to foreign policy. By engaging with the question of why such a figure emerged, this study helps illuminate the workings of William's government and the central role of his foreign entourage. Drawing from archival material in England, Scotland, France and The Netherlands, it ties the history of post-Revolution Britain with political events in the Netherlands. It also analyses Anglo-Dutch political relations during the crucial period of the Nine Years War, Britain's first major commitment to a continental war since the sixteenth century. In so doing it connects Dutch and British historiography and significantly contributes to our understanding of British politics during the 1690s, both domestically and within an international context.

    Contents: Introduction; The making of a favourite (1649-85); 'For religion and liberty'? The crises of 1688; The consolidation of the Williamite Settlement (1689-91); 'Lord Portland takes all': the re-emergence of the favourite; 'The spirit of contention': politics and parties; 'The great affair': war on the continent; Ganymede: the image of the favourite; 'Arcana Imperii': war and peace (1697-1700); The vestiges of power (1697-1709); Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    David Onnekink is from the Research Institute for History and Culture at Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands.

    'David Onnekink has made an extremely valuable contribution both to broadening and especially deepening our understanding of the impact of King William III’s statecraft. His is an excellent piece of often ground-breaking research, fully vindicating the business of patient work in widely dispersed archives ... He demonstrates convincingly that vastly important consequences flowed, rather paradoxically, from a court politics which had a number of thoroughly traditional as well as some ‘modern’ characteristics. Not the least of the former was the vigorous ‘re-emergence of the court-favourite’ in the shape of the mysterious, greedy, deeply unpopular and high-handed Portland’ -Jonathan I. Israel, Princeton, USA

    ‘… Dr Onnekink's study is an important contribution to the historiography of later seventeenth-century Europe. It integrates British and Dutch history effectively and will be essential reading for historians of late seventeenth-century Britain and of the United Provinces’ - H-Albion

    ‘… The Anglo-Dutch Favourite is an important book about an important man, and will be a welcome addition to our growing understanding of the age of William III’ - Renaissance Quarterly

    ‘… presents a fresh, detailed, and widely-researched account of Bentinck, which should prove valuable to scholars of post-1689 polity and, in particular, the rule and kingship of William III’ -Parliamentary History

    ‘… a well-written, extremely competent study less of the life and career of Bentinck as such than of his role in the making of William III's career and major decisions, and as such is extremely welcome, filling a notorious gap in the literature and in our historical knowledge’ - Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden