The Info List - Grand Pensionary

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The grand pensionary (Dutch: raad(s)pensionaris) was the most important Dutch official during the time of the United Provinces. In theory he was only a civil servant of the Estates of the dominant province among the Seven United Provinces: the county of Holland. In practice the grand pensionary of Holland
was the political leader of the entire Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
when there was no stadtholder (in practice the Prince of Orange) at the centre of power. The Dutch name raad(s)pensionaris literally translates as "councillor or advisor pensionary". Indeed, other provinces could also have a raadspensionaris, e.g. Zeeland, but only the one of Holland
was considered by foreign powers to be of any importance, so they called him the grand pensionary. The position of the grand pensionary was in many ways similar to what through later political and constitutional developments came to be a prime minister.


1 The office of grand pensionary 2 Grand Pensionaries 3 Holland

3.1 In the Seventeen Provinces 3.2 In the Dutch Republic

4 Zeeland 5 Batavian Republic 6 See also 7 See also 8 References

The office of grand pensionary[edit] The office started in 1619 and replaced the title of land's advocate. When there was a stadtholder, then the grand pensionary was often the second leader of the republic. Being the raadspensionaris of Holland, the grand pensionary acted as the chairman of States of Holland. He was appointed by the Estates and could be fired instantly by the Estates. A decision of the Estates was made by a summarizing of all the statements of the delegates by the grand pensionary, with an implicit conclusion about what collective decision had been made. He had the first say on a subject during a meeting of the Estates and controlled the agenda. This way, if he was a competent man, he could control the entire decision-making process, especially as one of his "duties" was to represent the ten members of the nobility delegates (the ridderschap) in their absence and phrase the single opinion they as a body had the right to express. The office existed because all delegates of the States were, although ranked according to ancient feudal hierarchy, still basically equal (pares) and none among them could thus act as a head. The Batavian Republic
Batavian Republic
first abolished the office but in its last year, 1805–1806, the title had to be reinstituted on orders of Napoleon
as part of a number of measures to strengthen the executive power; Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck thus acted for a short time as the last grand pensionary. He officially functioned as a president of the entire Republic, not just of Holland. Grand Pensionaries[edit] The most famous and most significant grand pensionary was Johan de Witt, who held the office between 1653 and 1672. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, who played an extremely important role in the Dutch struggle for independence should also be mentioned, though he held the position when it was still called "land's advocate". The following is a list of Grand pensionaries of Holland, Zeeland
and the Batavian Republic. During the time of the Dutch Republic, the Grand Pensionary was the most prominent member of the government. Though officially only a civil servant of the Estates, the Grand Pensionary was the de facto leader of the entire republic, second only to the stadtholder, and often served in a capacity similar to that of today's prime ministers. Holland[edit] In the Seventeen Provinces[edit] Grand Pensionaries of the province of Holland
during the time of the Seventeen Provinces:

Portrait Name (Birth–Death) Term of office

Barthout van Assendelft (ca. 1440–1502) 1480 1489

Jan Bouwensz (ca. 1452–1514) 1489 1494

Barthout van Assendelft (ca. 1440–1502) 1494 1497

Frans Coebel van der Loo (ca. 1470–1532) 1500 1513

Albrecht van Loo (ca. 1470–1532) 1513 1524

Aert van der Goes (1475–1545) May 1525 January 1544

Adriaen van der Goes (ca. 1505-1560) 30 January 1544 5 November 1560

Jacob van den Eynde (ca. 1515-1570) 1560 1568

In the Dutch Republic[edit] Holland
formally adopted the Act of Abjuration
Act of Abjuration
in 1581 to become a province in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. Grand Pensionaries of the province of Holland
during the time of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands:

  Prince's Faction   States' Faction   Unknown/neutral

Portrait Name (Birth–Death) Term of office

Paulus Buys (1531–1594) 1572 16 March 1584

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547–1619) 16 March 1586 12 May 1619

Andries de Witt (1573–1637) 12 May 1619 1621

Anthonie Duyck (1560–1629) 1621 1629

Jacob Cats (1577–1660) 1629 1631

Adriaan Pauw (1585–1653) 1631 1636

Jacob Cats (1577–1660) 1636 1651

Adriaan Pauw (1585–1653) 1651 30 July 1653

Johan de Witt (1625–1672) 30 July 1653 4 August 1672

Gaspar Fagel (1634–1688) 20 August 1672 5 December 1688

Michiel ten Hove (1640–1689) 5 December 1688 24 March 1689

Anthonie Heinsius (1641–1720) 27 May 1689 3 August 1720

Isaac van Hoornbeek (1655–1727) 12 September 1720 17 June 1727

Simon van Slingelandt (1664–1736) 17 July 1727 1 December 1736

Anthonie van der Heim (1693–1746) 4 April 1737 7 July 1746

Willem Buys (1661–1749) 7 July 1746 23 September 1746

Jacob Gilles (1691–1765) 23 September 1747 18 June 1749

Pieter Steyn (1706–1772) 18 June 1749 5 November 1772

Pieter van Bleiswijk (1724–1790) 18 June 1772 5 November 1787

Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel (1736–1800) 9 November 1787 9 February 1795

Zeeland[edit] Grand Pensionaries of the province of Zeeland
during the time of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands:   Prince's Faction   States' Faction   Unknown/neutral

Portrait Name (Birth–Death) Term of office

Christoffel Roels (1540–1597) 3 July 1578 18 May 1597

Johan van de Warck (died 1615) 25 March 1599 24 November 1614

Bonifacius de Jonge (1567–1625) 18 February 1615 June 1625

Johan Boreel (1577–1629) 28 October 1625 1 November 1629

Boudewijn de Witte 19 February 1630 23 March 1641

Cornelis Adriaansz. Stavenisse (1595–1649) 19 April 1641 28 May 1649

Johan de Brune (1589–1658) 16 August 1649 7 November 1658

Adriaan Veth (1608–1663) 29 November 1658 25 November 1663

Pieter de Huybert (1622–1697) 19 March 1664 9 October 1687

Jacob Verheije (1640–1718) 10 October 1687 16 August 1718

Caspar van Citters (1674–1734) 28 November 1718 28 September 1734

Dignus Francois Keetlaer (1674–1750) 2 November 1734 23 March 1750

Johan Pieter Recxstoot (1701–1756) 31 May 1751 31 January 1756

Jacob du Bon (c. 1695–1760) 3 January 1757 1 June 1760

Wilhem van Citters (1723–1802) 15 December 1760 25 May 1766

Adriaan Steengracht (1731–1770) 26 May 1766 6 May 1770

Johan Marinus Chalmers (1720–1796) 13 August 1770 12 May 1785

Laurens Pieter van de Spiegel (1737–1800) 22 September 1785 24 April 1788

Willem Aarnoud van Citters (1741–1811) 25 April 1788 1795

Batavian Republic[edit] Grand Pensionaries of the Batavian Republic:

Portrait Name (Birth–Death) Term of office Faction

Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck (1761–1825) 15 May 1805 4 June 1806 Moderate

Carel de Vos van Steenwijk (1759–1830) 4 June 1806 18 June 1806 Federalist

See also[edit]

List of Prime Ministers of the Netherlands

Other provinces also had pensionaries. A list of some of them can be found here. See also[edit]

First Stadtholderless Period List of Grand Pensionaries pensionary


Rowen, H.H. (2003), John de Witt: Statesman of the "True Freedom", Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521527082  Brouwer, M. (2008), Governance and Innovation: A Historical View, Routledge, ISBN 0415437059  Bockel, J. van (2009), Gevormde kaders: bureaucratische en professionele reguliering van het werk van ambtenaren in de Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden [Embedded constraints: Bureaucratic and professional regulation of officials' work in the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands] (in Dutch), Eburon Uitgeverij B.V., ISBN