Jeroen Koch

The House of Orange in War & Revolution

A European History, 1772–1890

An epic narrative of joy and tragedy, progress and catastrophe, disappointment and glory

Three kings from the House of Orange-Nassau ruled over the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1813 to 1890, but their sovereignty was subject to constant challenge. Their life stories stretch from the latter days of the Dutch Republic to the origins of the modern Netherlands. Historian Jeroen Koch places the nineteenth-century Orange dynasty and their struggles within the broad panorama of European history.

William I (1772–1843) had been destined at birth to become the stadholder of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. But a French-backed revolution forced his family, the House of Orange, into exile.

For almost two decades, they roamed a European continent plunged into chaos by the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. It seemed that William would never reign again, but at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, he managed to become King of the new United Kingdom of the Netherlands and embarked on a programme of national modernization. His authoritarian policies made many enemies and formed a major factor in the Belgian secession.

In contrast, his son William II (1792– 1849) was an adventurer, known for his military exploits, his far-flung travels and his amorous intrigues. In 1848, the European year of revolution, it was he who accepted the country’s first liberal constitution. William III (1817–1890) has gone down in history as King Gorilla, an aggressive man constantly struggling against the constraints imposed by his ministers and the new constitution. Yet his reign also saw the rapid modernization of the Netherlands.

This story of the House of Orange takes a novel approach, placing the nineteenth-century Dutch kings firmly in the context of their families and of European history. The Orange dynasty was and is an international family: William I, William II and William III were related to the royal houses of England, Prussia, Russia and Württemberg. The book thus offers a panoramic survey of Dutch history against a European backdrop. It also incorporates the latest scholarly approaches and insights, with a detailed examination of the kings’ many roles: dynastic, political, military, ceremonial, representative, and international.

Jeroen Koch has written a gripping narrative for both general readers and the scholarly community, combining probing research with a knack for eye-opening anecdotes and colourful details. His biography of King William I (2013) was part of a landmark trilogy on the three nineteenth-century Dutch kings. Based on this trilogy, The House of Orange in War & Revolution: A European History, 1772–1890 offers a synthesis of those earlier biographies combined with exciting new insights.

The press on Koch’s biography of William I:

‘A magnificent, fluidly written biography.’

NRC Handelsblad

‘A brilliant, revelatory biography.’

Het Parool

Jeroen Koch

Jeroen Koch (b. 1962) is a historian at Utrecht University, specializing in intellectual history from the Enlightenment onwards. His earlier books include a biography of the influential neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920), which attracted considerable attention. He wrote The House

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Oranje in revolutie en oorlog. Een Europese geschiedenis (2018). Non-fiction, 320 pages.

English sample available

Themes: dutch history



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