Catalogue description Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Holland

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Details of SP 84
Reference: SP 84
Title: Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Holland

Correspondence and papers of the Secretary of State concerning the northern part of the Low Countries, the Netherlands, essentially from 1585 (though a few documents are dated earlier).

The records are mainly in-letters, mostly to the Secretary of State or his assistants from the English (later British) ambassadors, envoys, ministers or other representatives at The Hague. Many draft replies are included as well as some letters from outside Holland (ie Paris, Brussels, Brest, Toulon and Madrid) but sent via The Hague or Rotterdam.

Date: c1560-1780

The records are arranged generally in chronological order, except for a supplementary series, and some volumes containing undated material.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 590 volume(s)
Publication note:

Selected documents dated before August 1589 are described in the Calendar of State Papers Foreign Series of the Reign of Elizabeth I ed A J Butler S C Lomas and R B Wernham (London 1901-1950). For references to the more important papers for the period August 1589 to December 1595 see the List and Analysis of State Papers Foreign Series Elizabeth I I-VI ed by Richard Bruce Wernham (London 1964-1993). Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.

Unpublished finding aids:

See also Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Holland (formerly introductory note to SP 84)

Administrative / biographical background:

On 10 July 1584, Prince William of Orange, the leader of the resistance to the rule of Spain in the Low Countries, was assassinated at Delft. As a consequence, the Spanish Governor, the Duke of Parma, was able to make steady advances, and both Brussels and Antwerp capitulated to his forces in the following year.

The States General now met at The Hague in Holland, and represented only the seven provinces in the Union of Utrecht (Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen). Count Maurice of Nassau (the second son of the assassinated former leader) was appointed Stadtholder by the States General in November 1585, and in December English troops under Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, were despatched by Queen Elizabeth I to assist the Dutch rebels.

The provinces of the Union of Utrecht eventually became a separate state, called the United Provinces of the Netherlands, or more briefly, the Dutch Republic. Spain formally recognised Dutch independence in 1648 at the conclusion of the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648).

The mission at The Hague was regarded as one of the most important on account of the long close alliance with the United Provinces, and its position as a centre for news and intelligence. When King George I or King George II were in Hanover, it was customary for one of the two Secretaries of State to travel with the King and for the other to remain in Whitehall, and the British representative at The Hague would usually communicate with both secretaries, often sending duplicate despatches.

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