Capital and seat of Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as of the (civil) Province of South Holland
Hague, the (Fr. LA HAYE; Dutch ‘s GRAVENHAGE, “the Count’s Park”; Lat. HAGA COMITIS), capital and seat of Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as well as of the (civil) Province of South Holland. It is situated two miles from the shores of the German Ocean, on a piece of low ground, which was at one time thickly wooded, between the mouths of the Maas and the Old Rhine. In 1908 it had 254,500 inhabitants, of whom 71,000 were Catholics. Among the most noteworthy edifices are the Gothic Groote Kerk (Great Church), originally a Catholic church, dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) built in 1649, with the monuments of the brothers de Witt and of Spinoza. Of the nine Catholic churches in the city the most famous are St. James’s (built, in 1878, by Cuypers), St. Joseph‘s (1868), St. Anthony’s (1835), and the Willibrordus (built, 1821; enlarged, 1865). The Binnenhof is historically the most important public edifice. It is an irregular pile of architecture of various dates, enclosing a square court and formerly surrounded by a moat. The nucleus of the whole is the Rittersaal (Hall of the Knights), which dates from the time of the city’s foundation. In the Binnenhof are the council chambers of the old States-General, as well as the assembly halls of both houses of the actual Parliament of the Netherlands. Other structures worthy of mention are the royal palace, built in the first half of the seventeenth century and extended in 1816; the Mauritzhuis picture gallery, rich in masterpieces of Rembrandt, Potter, and Rubens, the City Hall (erected in 1565; enlarged and restored 1882-83), and the royal country residence, ‘t Huis ten Bosch (the House in the Wood), the meeting place of the famous first International Peace Conference.
Ecclesiastically, The Hague is a deanery of the Diocese of Haarlem, and has nine parishes, two of which are administered by Jesuits (eighteen fathers) and one by Franciscans (nine fathers). There are also houses of the Brothers of Mercy, the Brothers of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Sisters of Tilburg, the Sisters of Rosendaal, the Sisters of Delft, the Borromean Sisters (two convents), and the Ladies of the Sacred Heart (one school). There are numerous pious associations, of which the most important are the Dutch Society of St. Gregory, the League of St. Peter Claver, the Catholic Teachers’ Union, the St. James’s Association for the Instruction of the Catholic Youth of The Hague, the Societies of St. Boniface and St. Canisius, the Society of St. Vincent, and the Catholic People’s Union.
HISTORY.—In the eleventh century the Counts of Holland built themselves a hunting-lodge in the great forest which then covered the site of The Hague. William II, Count of Holland and King of Germany, replaced this earlier building with the castle which formed the nucleus of the Binnenhof mentioned above. This castle was enlarged by his son Floris V, who made it his residence after 1291. Although many of the Counts of Holland maintained a brilliant Court, affording hospitality to poets and painters (Jan van Eyck among the latter), the place nevertheless remained unimportant. During the war between Guelders and Germany, The Hague was captured and pillaged by bands of Guelders, freebooters under Martin of Rossum. The ideas of the German Reformers soon found entrance into the city, but were suppressed with sanguinary rigour. It was here that the first Dutch martyr for the new creed, the pastor Jan de Bakker of Worden, suffered death by fire in the Binnenhof in 1526. Again, in 1570, under the Duke of Alva’s reign of terror, four preachers were burnt for heresy at The Hague. The Reformation, however, gained the upper hand during the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain. The town suffered grievous pillage at the hands of the Spanish troops in the course of the Dutch War of Independence. But with the conclusion of peace commerce and industry rapidly recovered. In 1593 The Hague was the seat of the Dutch States-General, but, owing to the jealousy of the cities which had votes, it was deprived of representation in the States, and became “the largest village” in Europe, having, in 1622, as many as 17,430 inhabitants. With the rise of Holland to the position of the first maritime and colonial power of Europe, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, The Hague became the most important center of European diplomacy. Many international treaties were concluded there: in 1666, the alliance between Denmark and Holland against England; in 1668, the Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and Holland, which compelled Louis XIV to conclude the Peace of Aachen; in 1707, the great alliance of the maritime powers and the Emperor Leopold against France; in 1710, the “Concert of The Hague“, consisting of the German emperor, England, and Holland, to maintain the neutrality of Northern Germany in the war of the Northern powers with Sweden; in 1718, the Quadruple Alliance between England, France, the emperor, and Holland, to enforce the conditions of the Treaty of Utrecht, and thereby check the aggressive policy of Spain.
During the bitter partisan strife within the Republic, The Hague was the scene of many memorable historical episodes. In the course of the religious feuds between the Arminians and the Gomarists, Prince Maurice of Orange caused the arrest of Jan van Olden-Barneveld, the septuagenarian grand pensionary, an Arminian, together with his learned companions Hugo Grotius and Hogerbeets, in the Binnenhof (1619). The grand pensionary, in spite of a brilliant defense, was condemned and executed (May 13, 1619). The death of the two brothers de Witt, in 1672, was even more tragic. Jan de Witt, as grand pensionary, had directed the policy of Holland for nearly two decades and, while at the height of his power, had, by the Perpetual Edict, debarred William III of Orange from enjoying the hereditary office of stadtholder. When, in spite of this, William was elected Stadtholder of Holland and Captain-General of the Netherlands, in 1672, Jan’s brother, Cornelius de Witt, was falsely accused of an attempt to murder the prince, and was thrown into prison. A frenzied rabble of partisans of the Prince of Orange broke into the prison, into which Jan de Witt, also, had been inveigled by a pretended summons from his brother, seized both the de Witts, and tore them to pieces.
During the French Revolution, The Hague was the capital of the Batavian Republic. When Napoleon turned this republic into a kingdom for his brother Louis, The Hague obtained a city charter, but the seat of government was transferred to Amsterdam, until the Restoration (1815), when The Hague regained its political importance. It was the meeting-place of the International Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, and is the permanent seat of the International Court of Arbitration.