13th May

Born: Empress Maria Theresa, 1717; Charles, Marquis of Rockingham, statesman, 1730.

Died: Johan Van Olden Barneveldt, Dutch statesman, beheaded, 1619, Hague; Louis Bonrdaloue, French divine, 1704, Paris; James Basire, 1802; Cardinal Fesch, uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte, 1839.

Feast Day: St. Servatius, Bishop of Tongres, 384. St. John the Silent, Armenian anohoret, 559. St. Peter Regalati, confessor, 1456.


This name is usually associated with ideas of national ingratitude. Another is evoked by it, that there is no party or body of men safe by their professions of liberal principles, or even their professed support of liberal forms of government, from the occasional perpetration of acts of the vilest tyranny and oppression. After William of Orange, the Netherlands owed their emancipation from the Spanish yoke to the advocate, Johan Van Olden Barneveldt. He it mainly was who obtained for his country a footing among the powers of Europe. As its chief civil officer, or advocate-general, he gained for it peace and prosperity, freed it from debt, restored its integrity by gaining back the towns which had been surrendered to England as caution for a loan, and extorted from Spain the recognition of its independence. It owed nearly everything to him. Nor could it be shewn that he ever was otherwise than an upright and disinterested administrator. He had, however, to oppose another and a dangerous benefactor of Holland in Prince Maurice of Orange. A struggle between the civil and the military powers took place.

There was at the same time a struggle between the Calvinists and the Arminians. In British history, the former religious body has been associated with the cause of civil liberty. The history of the Netherlands is enough to shew that this was from no inherent or necessary affinity between liberty and the Genevan church. Barneveldt, who had embraced the tenets of Armin, contended that there should be no predominant sect in Holland; he desired toleration for all, even for the Catholics. The Calvinists, to secure their ascendancy, united themselves with Prince Maurice, who, after all, was not of their belief. By these combined influences, the sage and patriotic Barneveldt was overwhelmed. After a trial, which was a mockery of justice, he was condemned to death; and this punishment was actually inflicted by decapitation, at the Hague, on the 13th of May 1619, when Barneveldt was seventy-two years of age.