Guillaume Groen Van Prinsterer - Encyclopedia




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GUILLAUME GROEN VAN PRINSTERER (1801-1876), Dutch politician and historian, was born at Voorburg, near the Hague, on the 21st of August 1801. He studied at Leiden university, and graduated in 1823 both as doctor of literature and LL.D. From 1829 to 1833 he acted as secretary to King William I. of Holland, afterwards took a prominent part in Dutch home politics, and gradually became the leader of the so-called anti-revolutionary party, both in the Second Chamber, of which he was for many years a member, and outside. In Groen the doctrines of Guizot and Stahl found an eloquent exponent. They permeate his controversial and political writings and historical studies, of which his Handbook of Dutch History (in Dutch) and Maurice et Barnevelt (in French, 1875, a criticism of Motley's Life of Van Olden-Barnevelt) are the principal. Groen was violently opposed to Thorbecke, whose principles he denounced as ungodly and revolutionary. Although he lived to see these principles triumph, he never ceased to oppose them until his death, which occurred at the Hague on the 19th of May 1876. He is best known as the editor of the Archives et correspondence de la maison d'Orange (12 vols., 1835-1845), a great work of patient erudition, which procured for him the title of the "Dutch Gachard." J. L. Motley acknowledges his indebtedness to Groen's Archives in the preface to his Rise of the Dutch Republic, at a time when the American historian had not yet made the acquaintance of King William's archivist, and also bore emphatic testimony to Groen's worth as a writer of history in the correspondence published after his death. At the first reception, in 1858, of Motley at the royal palace at the Hague, the king presented him with a copy of Groen's Archives as a token of appreciation and admiration of the work done by the "worthy vindicator of William I., prince of Orange." This copy, bearing the king's autograph inscription, afterwards came into the possession of Sir William Vernon Harcourt, Motley's son-in-law.

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