Freedom is central to Dutch and Polish history. Ever since the Dutch rebelled against the Spanish king, in the sixteenth century, their love for freedom has often been labelled typically Dutch. At the same time, Polish nobles developed their idea of Aurea Libertas, Golden Liberty, which stood for the privileges of the nobility. Both the Dutch and Poles, therefore, idolized a state system in which power was shared, not held by one monarch. Still, there were notable differences as well: while the Polish idea of Golden Liberty concerned the nobles, power in the Dutch Republic mostly lay with rich and powerful burghers and merchants. Moreover, the Dutch increasingly disapproved of the Polish love for freedom, which they thought was exaggerated and led to anarchy. In the eighteenth century, several Dutch authors argued that this was the cause of Poland’s eventual downfall.
The picture shows a statue from the tomb of William of Orange, in Delft. The figure holds a so-called freedom hat, which was a symbol of freedom. It is inscribed with the words Aurea Libertas: Golden Liberty.
*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 5. Also see my previous post (in Dutch), on early modern Dutch responses to Polish Golden Liberty.