Prussian invasion of Holland

Prussian invasion of Holland
Part of the Patriot era
Entry of the Prussian troops in 1787, attributed to Johannes Merken.jpg
Prussian troops entering the Leidsepoort of Amsterdam on 10 October 1787.
Date13 September – 10 October 1787
ResultPrussian–Orangist victory;
Orange Restoration.
Kingdom of Prussia Kingdom of Prussia
Dutch Republic Orangists
Dutch Republic States of Holland
Dutch Republic Patriots
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Prussia Duke of Brunswick
Dutch Republic William V of Orange
Dutch Republic Rhinegrave of Salm
Dutch Republic Jean Baptiste Ternant
20,000 Prussian mercenaries
6,000 Orangist mercenaries
20,000 Patriot volunteers, Legion of Salm
Casualties and losses
211 deaths (71 killed, 140 died of disease)unknown

The Prussian invasion of Holland[1] was a Prussian military campaign in September–October 1787 to restore the Orange stadtholderate in the Dutch Republic against the rise of the democratic Patriot movement.


The direct cause was the Arrest at Goejanverwellesluis (actually Bonrepas) of Stadtholder William V of Orange's wife, Wilhelmina of Prussia, on 28 June 1787. She was on her way from Nijmegen, where William V had taken refuge, to The Hague, where she intended to request her husband to be allowed to return to, after the States of Holland had fired him as Captain General of their troops in 1786.This had not been done on a whim: the decision to travel to The Hague had only been taken after Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp had undertaken a secret mission to the Orangist leaders in that city to discuss its advisability, because her husband was, as usual, hesitating about what course of action to follow. The leader of the Orangist party in The Hague, the British envoy James Harris saw possibilities to put pressure on the States of Holland if the Princess suddenly arrived, and he told van Hogendorp to give the green light to the Princess, who was with her husband in the armed camp of the Dutch States Army in Amersfoort. The stadtholder then grudgingly gave his consent.[2]

Princess Wilhelmina, damsel in distress, by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein

The Princess then returned to Nijmegen, while preparations for the journey to The Hague were made by ordering fresh horses for her carriages along the route in two places. This caused suspicion among the Patriot Free Corps in the area, who in this way were alerted to her supposedly secret travel plans. The military authorities posted Free Corps patrols in the affected area with orders to intercept her. When on 28 June 1798 she departed from Nijmegen to The Hague with a small retinue (a chamberlain, a lady in waiting, and two officers, colonel Rudolph Bentinck, an adjutant of the stadtholder, and Frederick Stamford, the military tutor of her sons), but no armed escort (Harris had advised it was safe enough to only take a bag of gold along to bribe Patriot Free Corps with[3]) she was indeed intercepted near Goejanverwellesluis by a Free Corps patrol from Gouda. She was not mistreated, as has been asserted by Orangist propagandists, but only temporarily detained in a nearby farm, to await the arrival of members of the Military Commission in Woerden. The only untoward thing that happened was that the leader of the patrol drew his saber, but he put it back in its scabbard when requested. When the Military Commission arrived she was told she would not be allowed to proceed to The Hague, for fear of instigating public unrest there, but she was immediately released, and allowed to return to Nijmegen.[4]