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Correspondence of Willem III and of Hans Willem Bentinck 1656-1702

Edited by N. Japikse

Five volumes of letters, divided into two separate categories, have been published under the title Correspondentie van Willem III en van Hans Willem Bentinck, eersten graaf van Portland. From 1672 onwards, William III, Prince of Orange, was Stadholder of Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel. He was later crowned King of England in 1689 where he reigned until 1702. Throughout this period, Bentinck was William III’s political confidant and associate and held a number of high-ranking positions in both the Republic and, after 1689, in England where he was given the title first Earl of Portland.

This edition not only contains the letters that Bentinck and William III wrote to each other, but also features letters that each of them wrote separately to other people. The letters that appear in the first part of the publication (which covers two sections) are kept in the Bentinck archive in Welbeck Abbey, England, while the items found in the second section (divided over three volumes) come from different Dutch and English archives and libraries.

The letters featured in the first section do not follow any chronological order and the selection criteria used in the second section are at times ambiguous. Consequently, the way in which the material has been arranged is not always clear. Notwithstanding this, the publication does contain a lot of information about the political history of the Republic and its relations with other countries, for example the preparations made for the passage to England in 1688.

William III’s letters have also been published elsewhere. Detailed references are made in both the introductions and the bibliographies featured in all five volumes of this publication. One publication in particular comes to mind: the third series (in three volumes) of the Archives ou Correspondance inédite de la Maison d’Orange-Nassau, F.J.L. Krämer (ed.) (Leiden 1907-1909).