His task was far from easy: the States-General, and more particularly the aristocratic party, were jealous of the fame of the state- holder, fearing a restoration of the monarchy in his favor, and were also fearful of the consequences that could derive for their economic interests. and commercial since the annexation of Antwerp. On four occasions (1637-46) the statolder he besieged the port at the mouth of the Scheldt, but the conquest was not successful due to the help granted by Amsterdam to the besieged. More fortunate was the war on the sea: repeated times (the battle of the Dunes is famous, 1639) the Spanish fleet was defeated. The virtual elimination of the Spanish threat and the fear of the new French power facilitated the peace negotiations, which were signed in Münster (30 January 1648); the most absolute independence was recognized to the united provinces. With the subsequent Peace of Westphalia they ceased to be part of the empire. Thus ended the so-called Eighty Years War. The conclusion of the peace was not favorable to William II, statolder from 1647, since the dismissal of the mercenary troops, requested by the States General, clearly tended to his overthrow. He resolved the conflict by force, but his premature death (1650) removed all obstacles to the hegemonic aspirations of the regents, who imposed on the other provinces the vacancies of the posts of captain general and statolder (except in Friesland and Groningen). The Orang-utan party, strong above all from popular support, did not disarm, even if the direct heir of the deceased statolder he was a baby in swaddling clothes (William III was born eight days after his father’s death). The popularity of the family manifested itself during the First English War (1652-54), when the defeats caused by Cromwell’s fleet caused economic difficulties and riots in favor of the Orange and against the regents. The disastrous outcome of the war forced the States General to vote the Act of execution, with which they undertook never to elect the Orange state- holder of their province (William III on his mother’s side was the grandson of Stuart’s pretender to the English throne).
The Navigation Act (1651), which in the intentions of the English was to inflict a fatal blow to the maritime trade of the United Provinces, only partially achieved its intent. The rivalry on the sea between the two powers resulted in the Second English War (1665-67), when the Stuarts with Charles II had returned to the throne. This time the victory, thanks above all to the valor of Admiral MA de Ruyter, remained with the United Provinces, and the Peace of Breda sanctioned it with the partial modification of the Navigation Act. Much of the credit for all these successes went to Johan de Witt, a grand pensioner from 1653, whose political and diplomatic ability elevated the united provinces, under Dutch hegemony, to great power. In internal affairs, on the one hand he sought the support of the merchant class, on the other hand he reduced the powers of the statolder (1667). He believed he had thus excluded the Orange from the lordship once and for all, but his calculations were wrong in the face of the aims of Louis XIV, wishing to extend his sovereignty over the united Provinces. War broke out in April. 1672: the united provinces, faced with the coalition constituted by France, England, the elector of Cologne and the bishop of Münster, found themselves in serious difficulty. William III was appointed captain general for a single campaign, later elected statolder ; and, thanks to the support and patriotism of the population, the country was able to overcome the serious crisis. Louis XIV and his allies were forced into a hasty retreat, when they believed they had defeated the Republic; the united provinces went on the counterattack: Bonn was conquered, the elector of Cologne and the bishop of Münster asked for peace, followed by England (Treaty of Westminster, 1674) and France (Nijmegen, 1678). Louis XIV’s plan had failed, but the personal rivalry between the Sun King and William III was, from then on, a determining element of European politics. The policy of Louis XIV favored the designs of the statolder and of the great anti-French coalition of 1686 (League of Augusta) of which he was the inspiration.
In 1689 William of Orange ascended the throne of England and from then on to his death (1702) the Republic found itself almost continuously involved in European conflicts, reducing itself to a position of political dependence on England and rapidly decaying. She participated in the War of the Spanish Succession, at the end of which, with the Treaty of the Barrier, she was granted the right to hold garrisons in various cities of the southern Netherlands, now subject to Austrian sovereignty, as a guarantee against new French invasions. That apparent political success, as well as the extension of Dutch sovereignty over Venlo and Stevensweert by virtue of the Peace of Utrecht, did not prevent the seven great-power provinces from decaying. Multiple reasons concurred, including the fear of a restoration of the Orange. Since the death of William III, the States of the Provinces decided not to appoint a new one statolder, the ruling oligarchy sought to isolate itself in a rigorous policy of neutrality for fear that participation in the war could offer the Orangutan party an opportunity to return to power. This occurred in fact during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the population rose up accusing the merchant oligarchy of having sacrificed the public interest to personal gain: William IV, statolder of Friesland, Drenthe and Gelderland, assumed the same position in all the other provinces (1747), transmissible by inheritance to his male and female offspring. Under his successor William V (1751-95), the crisis in foreign and internal politics worsened. During the Seven Years War, being regents first Anna of Hanover, mother of the new statolder, and thus the Duke of Brunswick, trade was severely restricted; other negative repercussions on the country’s economy came from the revolt of the English colonies of America, as England prevented the Republic’s trade relations with the rebels, up to the point of war (1780-84). At the same time in the country the request for reforms became more and more pressing, especially from the party of the so-called “patriots”, openly siding against the statolder.