The Dutch Republic: In the Shadow of a Glorious Past
This chapter seeks to analyse the position of naval officers within discourses about the decline of Dutch power across the eighteenth century. It first looks at the decay, or ‘strategic reprioritizing’ as it has also been interpreted, of Dutch naval power during the period in question, before focusing on the social, professional, and educational composition of the corps and the career trajectories of its members. It then moves on to present three separate cases that together provide an overview of the various roles of officers in these discourses, namely that of the ambitious professional eager to live up to the historical benchmark, that of the active participant, that of the Patriot seeking to rejuvenate the Republic, and that of the criticized or worshipped stereotype.
KeywordsThe Dutch Republic Batavian Republic Dutch navy Decline Professionalization Social backgrounds Politics
I would like to thank Jaap Bruijn and Roger Downing for their constructive comments on a previous draft of this article. Thanks are also due to Marc van Alphen for generously sharing his knowledge of the eighteenth-century Dutch navy.